Papaya with Lemon Basil and Vodka Sorbet

Papaya with Basil Lemon Sorbet

As we go into August Bank holiday weekend in the UK, which is the weekend  before America’s Labour Day, both celebrations signify the end of the all too brief summer.

During my first job in America in Ocean City, Maryland, I always the remember stark contrast on the beach. Once the long weekend was over the long stretch of fine sandy beach was virtually deserted even though the hot sunny weather was still here.

So if you lucky enough to be planning a dinner or lunch party to enjoy the last vestiges of summer, then here is a great idea for a simple and yet different appetiser.
Papaya (also called pawpaw) has a smooth skin which turns from yellow to orange when ripe. The sweet juicy pulp is orange-pink, has a melon-like texture and a slightly spicy flavour. When cut in half the black seeds that lie in the centre are easily removed. Traditionally the availability of Papaya was June-December but now their available most of the year. Just like Melon they are very versatile and can be combined in cold seafood salads or served as a starter on their own or even a dessert.

Ingredients (serves 4)
2 Large ripe Papaya (avoid ones with dry or blemished skins)
4 scoops of lemon sorbet
6-8 large basil leaves
Fresh black pepper ( from a pepper mill)
1 small bag of Rocket leaves (optional for garnish)
*Raspberry coulis (sauce)

  • Cut the  ripe papaya in half  (lengthwise)
  • Use a teaspoon to carefully remove the seeds, then put in the fridge to get cold.
  • Stack the basil leaves, then roll them up together and cut them into very fine ribbons (this is called a chiffonade). Or you could just roughly chop the basil.
  • Quickly stir the basil into the lemon sorbet, it’s important not to stir it too much or you will take too much air out of the sorbet and spoil the texture. So just a few quicks stirs, then return the sorbet to the freezer.

Raspberry sauce
You can make the raspberry coulis (sauce) if you wish, here’s how.
1 small box or bag of frozen raspberries
1/2 pint of water
1 tablespoon of castor sugar.

  • Boil the ingredients down until soft then strain through a fine mesh strainer & cool.
  • I don’t add much sugar to the raspberry sauce because there is sweetness in the papaya and the sorbet.

To Serve

  • To make your papaya look professional use dinner plates so the dish does not look crowded on the plate.
  • Wash rocket leaves then drain well in the colander.
  • Take a piece of paper towel and make slightly wet then carefully rub the rims of 4 plates. Use a pepper mill to screw black pepper onto the plate rims.
  • Pour the strained raspberry coulis into a squeezie bottle (you can buy a ketchup squeezie bottles from discount stores like Poundland.  Make a zig-zag design in the centre of each plate.
  • Place a small mound of rocket leaves in the centre of each plate, trying not to cover all of your zig-zag patterns.
  • Place a chilled half of Papaya on top of the rocket. Then scoop a nice round ball of the Basil-lemon sorbet into each portion.
  • Placing your finger over the top of your open vodka bottle sprinkle the vodka over the sorbet and serve immediately.

Chef’s Tips
In such a simple dish the ripeness of the papaya is very important.
You can use fresh raspberries to make the sauce if you wish. By planning ahead this dish can be whipped up in 3-4 minutes so you spend more time with you guests and enjoy the last rays of sunshine.

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