My husband couldn't resist a large "green" papaya for $1.25 at the grocery store. This was directly influenced by our recent viewing of the movie The Scent of the Green Papaya (see Roger Ebert's review of this 1994 Vietnamese/French film). As it turned out it was not a green papaya but a Red Caribbean! Right away I felt liberated to make a papaya salad that did not have to try to emulate the amazing green papaya salads of Vietnam... Since I had been craving black eyed peas, and had a few limes on hand, a framework quickly turned into a new summer favorite. Here's what happened.
RED PAPAYA SALAD WITH BLACK EYED PEAS
Half a red papaya - peeled, de-seeded, sliced and "cubed"
1-1.5 cup dry black eyed peas
3 cups water for peas
1/2 pint grape tomatoes
3 cloves fresh garlic - crushed and chopped finely
3 slices Vidalia onion, chopped finely
good handful of fresh green beans (15-20 beans)
2-3 cups fresh baby arugula (if you like it), baby spinach or fresh watercress
1/2-1 tsp sea salt
(a few red pepper flakes if spice is desired)
1. Prepare the papaya by cutting in half, peeling, slicing lengthwise, scooping out seeds, slice and then chop. Don't worry about everything being the same size, just think abouta nice bite size.
2. Steam the green beans, rinse in cold water and chop into 1/2 inch pieces. Set aside.
3. Cook the black eyed peas in a good amount of water, about 25 minutes, with just a little salt. While these are cooking, you can crush and chop the garlic and chop the onion. Drain and add the chopped onion and garlic to this, and cutting the grape tomatoes in half and stirring them into the warm beans. Let this cool to room temp or put it in the fridge.
4. Construct: Add papaya chunks and green beans to the black eyed peas mixture. Add salt, a dash of red pepper flakes if you want heat, and the juice of at least half the lime or possibly the WHOLE lime! Set in the fridge for a bit if you want it cool or eat at room temperature. SERVE on a bed of baby arugula. Great for picnics. Can be eaten as leftovers the next day.