Green Papaya Gratin Recipe
Green papayas - not just for salads!
I was given a crate filled with green papayas last week. I love a good Thai papaya salad, but this time I wanted something different, and this gratin hit the spot.
Creamy, cheesy and full of papaya health benefits it takes less than an hour to have on the table, and most of that time is in the oven.
I recently made this for a dinner party and the dish was scraped clean. It's so versatile - serve it as an entre, as a main meal alongside a salad and baguette, or bring it to a barbecue/picnic/potluck as the perfect side dish. It even freezes well. What more could you want?
Get ready for the best meal you've had in a while
I can walk out to my garden or local grocer's and find everything I need for this recipe. But if you don't know where to find emmental or whole nutmeg, Amazon saves the day. In many cases they're cheaper than buying locally, and you don't have to leave the house.
This is enough to make a big gratin for a dinner party, or half for your dinner and the rest in the freezer for a quick weeknight meal.
I swear by Le Creuset baking dishes. They last forever, look great and distribute heat well.
I use Emmental because it's not too strong, melts easily and is easily available here.Gruyere or a mild cheddar are perfect, too.
They thyme gives this otherwise tropical dish that distinctive French taste.
This gourmet dish is so delicious and makes a great vegetarian side for grilled meats, vege burgers or fish. My French friends like to have a baguette handy to mop up the sauce left in the baking dish, and serve it alongside a crisp garden salad for lunch.
I usually use garlic and thyme as my main flavours but the recipe is very versatile. I've already tried adding a bit of lemon zest, or sprinkling some chopped ham or smoked fish into the dish before baking. For dairy-free guests, I make my bechamel sauce using coconut milk and add some lime zest and crushed lemongrass to the sauce in place of the thyme, omitting the butter and cheese.
- Papaya mixture:
- 1 large green papaya (roughly 2lbs or 1kg)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 sprig dried thyme
- 2 tsp sea salt
- Bechamel sauce:
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp flour
- pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 cups cold milk
- salt & pepper to taste
- handful of grated emmental (or other mild) cheese
- Wash the papaya, then peel the skin off using a vegetable peeler. Scrape out any seeds and chop the fruit into bite-size pieces.
- Put the chopped papaya in a large pot, cover with water and add the peeled garlic, thyme and salt. Bring to a boil.
- Let the papaya simmer until a knife can be inserted easily. Drain, leaving the thyme and garlic with the papaya pieces.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter and whisk the flour into it until golden. Add the cold milk slowly, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens. Grate some nutmeg into the sauce, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Combine the drained papaya pieces and the bechamel sauce, stirring to coat each piece. Pour into a baking dish, sprinkle with grated emmental cheese and bake at 400F (200C) for around 40 minutes until golden brown.
Cooking green papaya step-by-stepClick thumbnail to view full-size
Papayas - good for your tastebuds and your health!
This short and sweet video goes through over 50 health benefits gained from eating papayas. If you're like me and find the taste and smell of ripe papayas too strong, try eating them green. You won't regret it.
Other ways to eat green papaya
I love papaya in all its many forms, and there are so many creative and delicious ways to cook this fruit. Sweet or savoury, raw or cooked it's always good.
- Green Papaya Salad
The classic green papaya salad we've all eaten in a Thai restaurant.
- Roasted green papaya recipe
Roasting the fruit brings out its natural sweetness
- Green PawPaw Curry
Comforting and easy to prepare curried papaya.
- Pickled Green Papaya
This papaya pickle would be fabulous in a burger or sandwich.