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Green Papaya Gratin Recipe

Updated on May 13, 2014

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.

Fresh green papaya 3-4 lbs
Fresh green papaya 3-4 lbs

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.

 
Le Creuset Heritage Stoneware 1-Quart Oval Au Gratin Dish, Cerise (Cherry Red)
Le Creuset Heritage Stoneware 1-Quart Oval Au Gratin Dish, Cerise (Cherry Red)

I swear by Le Creuset baking dishes. They last forever, look great and distribute heat well.

 
Emmentaler Cheese (1 lb)
Emmentaler Cheese (1 lb)

I use Emmental because it's not too strong, melts easily and is easily available here.Gruyere or a mild cheddar are perfect, too.

 
Thyme Herb-8oz-Dried Thyme Herb Bulk
Thyme Herb-8oz-Dried Thyme Herb Bulk

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.

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 50 min
Ready in: 1 hour
Yields: 4

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Wash the papaya, then peel the skin off using a vegetable peeler. Scrape out any seeds and chop the fruit into bite-size pieces.
  2. Put the chopped papaya in a large pot, cover with water and add the peeled garlic, thyme and salt. Bring to a boil.
  3. Let the papaya simmer until a knife can be inserted easily. Drain, leaving the thyme and garlic with the papaya pieces.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
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Cooking green papaya step-by-step

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Slice off the stem end of the papaya and wash off the 'glue' that comes out.Use a vegetable peeler to peel off the skin, then scrape out the immature white seeds.After chopping the fruit, cover it with water in a pot and add garlic, thyme and salt.Simmer until tender.Drain and discard the cooking liquid.Cook the butter and flour to make a roux.Add the cold milk, and don't forget to keep whisking!Grate in some fresh nutmeg, and season to taste with salt and pepper.Mix the papaya pieces into the sauce.Pour into a baking dish and sprinkle with cheese.Bake until golden.
Slice off the stem end of the papaya and wash off the 'glue' that comes out.
Slice off the stem end of the papaya and wash off the 'glue' that comes out.
Use a vegetable peeler to peel off the skin, then scrape out the immature white seeds.
Use a vegetable peeler to peel off the skin, then scrape out the immature white seeds.
After chopping the fruit, cover it with water in a pot and add garlic, thyme and salt.
After chopping the fruit, cover it with water in a pot and add garlic, thyme and salt.
Simmer until tender.
Simmer until tender.
Drain and discard the cooking liquid.
Drain and discard the cooking liquid.
Cook the butter and flour to make a roux.
Cook the butter and flour to make a roux.
Add the cold milk, and don't forget to keep whisking!
Add the cold milk, and don't forget to keep whisking!
Grate in some fresh nutmeg, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Grate in some fresh nutmeg, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Mix the papaya pieces into the sauce.
Mix the papaya pieces into the sauce.
Pour into a baking dish and sprinkle with cheese.
Pour into a baking dish and sprinkle with cheese.
Bake until golden.
Bake until golden.

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.

Have you tried green papaya? - Raw, cooked, pickled...let us know!

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    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      I never had papaya before. I hope to try new recipes and fruits this spring. hanks for sharing this scintillating recipe in this great hub!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for this recipe. I am sharing it with a number of my Caribbean friends.

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