Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fresh Papaya Salsa

While we were in Hawaii we lived off of papayas. Papayas with lime for breakfast, papayas in green smoothies, and fresh papaya salsa. We packed rice, quinoa, and pink beans with us. I found it very easy to make a large pot of pink beans, cooked with cumin and onions, to have on hand for quick lunches and dinners.

The sublime flavor of ripe papayas was delicious. I took full advantage of their juiciness and made several large batches of salsa to put over our beans and rice or fish and rice. The salsa even doubled as a "salad dressing" when tossed with fresh greens.

The papaya photos you see here were not taken in Hawaii (except for the market shot above). The papayas I found here were not as ripe, dark, juicy, or as full of flavor compared to those in Hawaii (well, of course!). Still though, they made excellent salsa!

Fresh Papaya Salsa

Even if you don't live in a tropical place and want to try a papaya, you can find them at some health food stores or Hispanic markets. When we were in Hawaii, I made this salsa with halved local cherry tomatoes. I didn't add them to the salsa in these photos but you can. Remember to score your unripe papayas gently with a knife (shallow, lengthwise slits) to help let out some of the sap. The salsa will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

3 cups diced fresh papaya
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
3 to 4 green onions, thinly sliced into rounds
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 to 2 limes, juiced
dash extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Herbamare or sea salt

Toss all ingredients together in a bowl. Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving to let the flavors mingle. Serve over mixed greens, beans and rice, or grilled fish. Source:

Other raw recipes you might like:

The Winners of the Cookbook Giveaway have been posted! We brought Cumin with us as our only spice! We also brought Herbamare but I didn't consider this a spice. Since I wasn't clear, we picked a name from both the cumin group and the Herbamare group! Chaos and Love, who guessed cumin won as did Shanda who guessed Herbamare! Please email me your shipping addresses. Thanks everyone for participating!

Anybody have a favorite, unusual Salsa Recipe to share? If so, leave the recipe in the comment section below so we can all enjoy it! Happy Spring! -Ali :)

About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. Yum, that looks delicious!

    I have never actually made my own salsa but I really want to give it a go. I love mango salsa!

  2. I have a few bags of whole foods peaches in my freezer. Do you think these would work in place of the papaya? I woould really like to try this. Also interested in your pink bean recipe. Thanks for your lovely blog!

  3. Pascale ( Montreal, Qc, Canada)March 26, 2010 at 3:42 PM

    Thanks for your wonderful recipes. I am a mother of 4 and I don`t know where you find the time to write such a good blog. You are very generous to share your knowledge. Thank you for every words you write!

  4. Ali, by far my favorite recipe for salsa is the peach salsa in your cookbook. To the anonymous commenter: I've made your recipe using frozen peaches before. What I found to work best is to thaw the frozen slices on paper towels first before using in the recipe.

    Congratulations to the cookbook winners! You will love it no doubt.

    Many Blessings,

  5. Please be aware, all the papayas in Hawaii are genetically modified organisms--YEP--GMOs. Not great for human consumption.

  6. Thanks for the feedback. Yes peaches can replace papaya as well as mango. Thanks Jillian for the tip on thawing out frozen peaches.

    Louise, we are well aware of the GMO seed contamination issue of papayas which is why we purchased organic (though Kauai has showed only traces of contamination). Even the papayas we bought here in Washington recently were Hawaiian organic (though not sure which island they came from). Thanks for sharing this info with everyone else reading. I should have mentioned it in my post. :)

  7. OK. My salsa recipe is not all that unusual, but it is getting us through this winter!

    Take Ali's Baked Pizza Sauce recipe, and add a couple of your favorite chili peppers--preroasted, skinned, seeded and chopped. We like to add a couple of Anaheims and a Serrano or two to a recipe worth. Or maybe a Poblano and a sweet red.

    Bags and bags are rapidly disappearing from our freezer......

  8. I was interested in what you said about scoring the unripe papayas. I buy papayas often here in California, but have noticed that when I buy them unripe, they are unpredictable in how they ripen. I have had many disappointing papayas... what does the scoring do for them? How many days will they keep on the counter after scoring them? Do they ripen faster that way? It seems to be a science choosing the right papaya, at least here!

  9. I made this last night and tossed it over spinach and red leaf lettuce. So so good. Thanks for the great recipes!

  10. Until I get a food processor - not a lot of salsa being chopped up here!

    I am curious though; I have read in recent years that papayas are a top GMO crop, but also read that no fruits or vegetables in our food supply are GMO as of yet (legumes and grains, yes). Can you shed some light on this? It is really hard to find solid GMO info online!

  11. Beautiful photos, Ali! And, lovely, simple recipe ... something I've come to look forward to here. :-) I love the sweeter salsas. I just read a post/recipe on fruit salsa, which was a combination of fruits served with tortillas cut into strips and topped with cinnamon. I can't wait to try that one, too.


  12. One of my favorite salsa prep is to do this... this is a weight watcher s recipe.. and its a real yummy.. very very easy..

    one brown rice tortilla

    put in a flat skillet..
    put on top:

    some fresh salsa
    grated zucchini
    spoonfuls of black beans

    and some grated cheddar cheese on top.. let the whole thing warm up.. and then enjoy!

    Laura ( from Massachusetts)

  13. whoops ali...

    I shouldnt have added the cheese for the brown rice tortilla meal- since you are aiming for dairy free too.. you could do without. Its still very delicious because of the salsa itself.


  14. I haven't had papaya in a long while. This looks so delicious!

  15. Anon-
    About the scoring of the papaya...I was just taught to do this by my Grandpa (I grew up on Oahu for half of my childhood). He used to say that you do it when the papaya is mostly yellow with a little green at the top. The green part is where most of the sap comes out and leaves the papaya with less of a bitter taste. If you buy papayas too green, they will start to lose moisture before ripening and never really get rid of the bitter/sappy taste even if you score them. Ideally you would buy a papaya that will ripen within 2-3 days and you score them right when you get them home from the store.

    GMO info that I have enjoyed the most has come from Smith's "Genetic Roulette". I wrote a book review on this and was presented with some GMO handouts by the publisher. If you are interested in these, please e-mail me.
    And yes...papayas are a crop with GMO varieties in the food supply, and there are indeed other GMO fruits and vegetables in the food supply. When in Wisconsin this last Summer, it was hard NOT to find a GMO variety of corn growing in the fields.



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