Thursday, September 18, 2008

Off to Bloomington Indiana, and Stuffed Green Papaya

Ok. I admit it. School has got the best of me. I barely have time to look at a blog, even mine. Even when people leave comments. Even when people post amazing recipes and I receive emails announcing them to me in my inbox. I haven't read the comics page in weeks. Words like postmodernist and epistemology are pouring out of my ears. I am working on 5 1/2 hours sleep, a 3 inch stack of flash cards and 700 pages of reading. And I have a flight out of DC at 6:45 tomorrow morning.

But I thought I had better at least post something to let people know that I am still alive and breathing. I'm still eating too, but I haven't taken a single picture of food since I got back from Belize. My meals have been centered around rapidly assembled salads and things wrapped up in some kind of flat bread: hummus and pita sandwiches, burritos, wraps made with the overwhelming abundance of late summer peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini that I lug home from the farmers' market every week. Saute with spices, toss onto a tortilla. Eat. Peaches and plums are hastily devoured while standing over the sink. Lengthy culinary preparations are a thing of the past. The question now is, what can I cook in 10 minutes, eat in five and be on campus in time to meet with my advisor?

I'm hoping that I will settle into my new routine soon and have more time to post, but until then I'll be happy if I can churn out four new articles a month. I'm only working 25 hours a week this semester instead of full-time so you would think that would help take some of the pressure off, but my classes seem to have simply gotten harder to make up for it.

Today I'm going to post a few pics of another recipe from my August vacation in Belize. It seems like a distant memory now, as I lug around my bag full of books and flash drives, but this stuffed green papaya was a delicious meal for my parents and I, and healthy too!

Stuffed Green Papaya

This recipe lends itself to experimentation. A green papaya, like a big zucchini, can be stuffed with pretty much anything. My combo of papaya flesh, tofu, carrot, tomato, sunflower seeds, onion, garlic and various spices topped with bread crumbs was a tasty vegetarian version. Feel free, of course, to substitute any filling of your choice.

1 medium large green papaya (about 3 lbs)
1 large onion
2 medium large tomatoes
1 large or 2 medium carrots, grated
2-6 cloves of garlic-to taste
fresh ground black pepper
lots of oregano (2 tsps dried or to taste)
red recado or just use a good quality chili powder instead
1 tsp paprika
1 cube vegetable or chicken bullion
1 lb firm tofu, crumbled.
2-3 tablespoons sunflower or sesame seeds (optional)
1 tsp olive oil
1 finely diced medium bell pepper (optional)
1 cup fine breadcrumbs
Juice of one lime


1. Cut the green papaya in half lengthwise. Remove all the seeds and scrape out any white membrane. Steam until still firm, but pierce-able with a fork. Scrape out about half of the flesh and mince finely. Set the papaya shells aside in a baking pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Finely chop all the vegetables. Saute them over medium low heat with the olive oil, sunflower seeds, bullion and spices. Add the garlic after the vegetables have begun to soften.

3. Add a little water as necessary to keep things from sticking. Add the crumbled tofu and minced green papaya and cook until the flavours have blended together. Take off the heat and mix in the lime juice.

4. Mix the breadcrumbs with a bit of salt and pepper, a spritz of olive oil, oregano and recado to taste.

5. Stuff the papaya shells with the filling, top with the breadcrumb mixture and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the breadcrumbs have browned and the papaya is soft on the outside.

6. Cut in sections to serve, accompany with extra lime wedges to squeeze over. The skin of the papaya is bitter, so you will want to discard that bit while eating. The flavour of green papaya is excellent, like that of a slightly sweet summer squash. It also makes a good stand alone vegetable (although why let a decent vegetable stand alone?) and a good addition to soups and stews.

I am off to Bloomington, Indiana for a weekend fact-finding mission. I leave at the crack of dawn tomorrow and return late on Sunday evening. The purpose of the trip is to see what Indiana University at Bloomington, the Anthropology Department there, and the city itself, are like in the flesh. Of course it is also a great excuse to eat out in a new place. I hope to post some pictures and report on the Bloomington food scene when I return. Til then, I recommend scrolling through the excellent websites listed on my blogroll if you have not done so already. There are some great posts out there! Now if only I had time to read them myself...


Cynthia said...

I've never had green papaya before.

All the very best with your studies.

Lyra said...

Thanks Cynthia:)Green papaya is good, you should try it sometime! The Thai eat it green a lot as well, and have some great dishes made with it.

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