I got a little excited about green papaya today on instagram.

When I was in Thailand a couple of years ago, I fell in love with the vibrant, fragrant, tangy, spicy green papaya salad. Made to order by street vendors with a few fresh ingredients, it was simply delicious. I may have fallen in love a couple of times ever since, but only that green papaya salad is still on my mind!

On Curaçao we have papaya’s in abundance. But besides a traditional papaya stew (note: can we please stop stewing everything!), I don’t think there are many other papaya recipes. So I have started a mission: LET’S START EATING (GREEN) PAPAYA.

For that, all we need is a few good recipes. And that’s where I come in. And maybe you as well. Do share your favorite papaya recipe. Just make sure it’s good.

I’ll start with this recipe for a surprisingly tasty green papaya gratin. It is based on a recipe by Vanessa Bolossier who wrote a wonderful cookbook about the Caribbean kitchen. Do try. It’s delicious!

Green Papaya Gratin

  • Author: Helmi Smeulders

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (250 grams) green papaya, diced
  • 1 cup (250 grams) eggplant, diced
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil ½ cup (75 grams) brown onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • ground black pepper & salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 cup (100 grams) grated cheese

Instructions

Put the eggplant and papaya in a stock pan, cover with water and add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 30-35 minutes. 

Strain the vegetables and mash with a fork. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F (200C). Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and fry the onions until translucent. Add the garlic and mashed vegetables. Season to taste and add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, if you like some spice.

Divide the vegetable puree over one big or a few small oven-proof bowls. Sprinkle with cheese and bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and browned, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.