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Papaya a versatile, exotic addition

How many times have you pushed your cart through the produce section and passed a papaya? You kind of know what it is and what it tastes like, but you kept right on going because you really didn’t know quite what to do with it.

So today when I was standing there contemplating the culinary merits of buying a papaya, mango or pomegranate, and since the papaya was on sale, it won. I bought six (like I said, they were on sale) and hurried home to figure out how I was going to convince my somewhat skeptical family (who think a Clementine is an exotic fruit) that eating this much papaya was going to be a good idea.

Papayas are a luscious, juicy tropical fruit with smooth green transitioning to yellow skin. In order to get the best, ripest papaya, you should look for one that seems heavy for its size and doesn’t have any visible bruises. It should give to the touch but not be mushy.

Crab and Papaya Appetizer

1 large papaya, cubed

6 1/2 ounces canned crabmeat drained (you can use the faux stuff and shred it)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon curry powder or more to taste

Combine all the ingredients into a bowl and mix to combine. Serve with crackers or mini rye breads.

Papaya, Mango and Avacado Salad

1/3 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

2 papayas, peeled and sliced thin

3 mangos, peeled and sliced thin

4 avocados, peeled and sliced thin

1 cup toasted almonds

In a jar with a lid combine the olive oil, sugar, vinegar and salt and pepper. Close the lid, shake and set aside. On a platter arrange the papaya, mango and avocado slices in whatever way you like. Sprinkle the almonds over the top and then drizzle the dressing over the top. Serves 6 to 8.

Raspberry Papaya Smoothie

1 banana

1/2 fresh papaya

1/2 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)

4 to 6 ice cubes

Water or apple juice as needed

Put all ingredients into blender. Blend until desired consistency is reached. If you like chunks of fruit, process less; smoother, process more. Add the water or juice to thin the smoothie if needed. Serves 1. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

Turkey Burgers with Pineapple-Papaya Sauce

Pineapple-Papaya Sauce:

1/4 cup chopped fresh pineapple

3 tablespoons fresh papaya, finely diced

2/3 cup barbecue sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Turkey Burgers:

1 pound ground turkey breast

3 tablespoons breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

4 thin slices fresh pineapple (optional)

4 hamburger buns

4 lettuce leaves

4 slices of tomato

For the sauce: In a sauce pan combine all the sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer. Cook 7 to 8 minutes.

For the burgers: Preheat grill pan. In a bowl combine the ground turkey, breadcrumbs, onion, cayenne, sugar and 1/3 cup sauce in a bowl and mix just until combined. Make 4 (1-inch) patties. Brush both sides of the burgers with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill the burgers over medium heat, turning once, about 6 minutes per side. Baste with sauce, and grill 2 minutes more. You can, if using, grill the pineapple slices 2 minutes per side. Place burgers on the buns, and spoon the remaining sauce over the top and top with the lettuce and tomato slices. Serves 4.

– From a Cat Cora recipe in Health, June 2009 Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.