It didn’t matter what we were having for dinner, growing up, there was always salad on the table. This was before pre-washed, boxed lettuces were as common, so the base was usually leaf lettuce or fresh spinach with green onions sometimes fruit sometimes tomatoes, cucumbers or peppers, sometimes a bit of goat cheese or pine nuts and always lots of lemon juice.
We were really lucky. It meant that we got our greens every day in a world before green smoothies, green supplements, or even kale, as we know it now, anyway. It also meant that we learned to crave fresh veggies from a young age. This didn’t mean we weren’t hitting up the candy store, the DQ or eating pizza pockets on some soccer practice nights, but it was all balanced out most nights of the week.
My Mom made great salads, and this is one of my favourites (that I try not to make too often because I always want it to remind me of her). She would definitely have used toasted pine nuts, but I subbed them for Brazil nuts because we could all use a little more food-sourced selenium in our lives. The lettuce is deep purple-y red leaf lettuce (pigment power) but use kale or romaine or any other green that you’re feeling these days. It might be odd to see papaya in this salad when there are fresh local berries and peaches etc popping up all over the place this time of year, but here’s the thing; papaya is really good for you.
It is an anti-carcinogen, containing carpine, an anti-tumor compound. It is full of antioxidants and vitamins and is relatively low in sugar. It also contains digestive enzymes papain and chymopapain, which break down protein and keep things moving along in your digestive tract. This is the reason you can’t use papaya in Jello (not that you’re making Jello, but you might remember from Brownies), because the enzymes in the papaya break down the protein in the gelatin, which doesn’t allow it to set. Cool, hey? This also helps to heal injuries, making papaya a great post-surgery snack.
The papaya seeds are also good for you. My Aunt actually makes a salad not unlike this one, and crushes them up in the dressing. They look like black peppercorns and taste quite peppery like peppercorns, but are softer. They work as an anti-parasitic, anti-viral, antibacterial and some say even anti-cancer. Even if you don’t throw them into the salad because you’re unsure of how your family or friends might respond, try a few yourself, as you’re cutting it up. Maybe save them in your fridge for a few days and take a few bites here and there. It’s free medicinal food that you would normally compost and then pay big money for in the pill form. Take advantage of that!
You can very easily replace the papaya with any summer fruit that is taking over your farmers market these days, this salad would be good with any and all of it. I chose to make this a warm weather post (despite all of the local fruit available) because tropical fruit (when you live in colder climates) is better for you to consume during the warmer months. In general I am all about eating locally and in season, but there are some exceptions (*ahem* lemons, avocado, coconut) and some of that tropical fruit has amazing health benefits and is a nice treat.
- 1 head of red or green Leaf Lettuce, chopped up, washed and dried
- half of a small Papaya, peeled, seeded and diced into bite-sized pieces
- 1 Avocado, diced into bite-sized pieces
- 4 Green Onions, thinly sliced
- ½ c Brazil nuts, chopped
- ¼-1/2 c Fresh Herbs (ie: dill, cilantro, parsley, tarragon, chervil, chives) (optional)
- ⅓ c Lemon Juice
- ¼ c Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Sea(weed) Salt to taste
- Toss all ingredients together with the lemon juice, oil & a good pinch of sea(weed) salt.