Frittata and papaya bring tropical rhythm to meatless fare (April 8, 2011)

By Joseph M. Donadieu
Our Lenten series on meatless meals is here. So I asked my daughter-in-law, Leigh, for an idea. True to form, she came up with a flavorful, exciting and easy-to-make recipe for Chilled Papaya Soup. To round out the meal, I have added a Vegetable Frittata.

Several weeks ago, Leigh and son John had the opportunity to spend a weekend at a resort in Jamaica, checking it out for Leigh’s magazine.

She is the publisher and editor of Cuizine, a restaurant and food magazine circulating in the Philadelphia and South Jersey area. John is a chef/baker specializing in artisan breads.

As I get the story, the chef, being a chef, couldn’t resist talking shop with the chef at the resort. One result was this recipe they worked out for Chilled Papaya Soup.

Papaya is a tropical fruit often used in fruit salads, fruit drinks or even shish kabobs. It is a year-round crop from Jamaica and other semi-tropical places. The fruit is rich in vitamins A and C and potassium, and the skin contains an enzyme called papain that is a natural meat tenderizer. Papaya is said to be good for the digestive tract because of the papain content.

When ripe, papaya has a golden-yellow skin; when it yields to gentle pressure it is ready to eat. Green papayas will ripen at room temperature in just a few days, especially if stored in a paper bag. Ripe papayas should be refrigerated until you are ready to use them.

The flesh of the ripe papaya is golden-yellow, juicy and silky smooth, which is one of the characteristics that make it good for a pureed soup. The flavor can be described as exotic, sweet and slightly tart.

Chilled Papaya Soup
– 3 cups peeled papaya
– 1/2 cup yogurt
– 1 cup orange juice
– 1/2 tsp cinnamon
– fresh ground nutmeg

Combine all the ingredients and puree until the mixture has a smooth consistency. Garnish with a dollop of yogurt and chopped fresh mint leaves. Serve.

The frittata is one of my favorite egg dishes because it is so easy and versatile. You cook it slowly until it’s firm and finish it under the broiler.

It can have almost any sort of fresh vegetables, herbs, leftovers from last night’s dinner, any kind of sliced or grated cheese or diced cooked meat, ham, sausage or bacon, cooked shrimp or crabmeat.

It’s the sort of dish that lets your imagination and creativity run wild.

Vegetable Frittata
– 6 eggs, lightly beaten
– 2 tsp olive oil
– 1 cup goat cheese
-1 red bell pepper, chopped
– 1 small shallot, chopped
– 1 medium zucchini, halved down the middle and sliced
– 4 medium mushrooms, sliced
– salt to taste
– 1/4 tsp black pepper
– 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
– 1/4 tsp paprika
– 1 tsp tarragon
– 1 tsp dill
– 1/2 cup prepared salsa

Preheat the broiler. Using a hot skillet (one without a plastic handle), add oil, saut‚ the bell pepper and zucchini until they begin to soften. Add the shallot, the mushrooms and herbs and spices. Let them cook and blend a few minutes and when the mushrooms are soft add the beaten eggs and stir, then add pieces of goat cheese (or some other sliced or grated cheese) on the top of the cooking eggs. Let the eggs cook until the edge starts to set up.

Place the skillet under the broiler, about 4-5 inches from the broiler unit, until the top of the frittata gets firm. When it’s finished, remove the skillet, take a knife and slide it around the edge to be sure it comes out when you slide it onto a serving plate and top it with a nice smoky tomato and onion salsa.

Serve it hot, serve it warm, serve it cold. It’s great as a meal, part of a meal or as an appetizer. Serve it with bread; serve it with a glass of white wine.

Once you get the technique, try new ingredients. For a substantial frittata with fewer calories and less cholesterol from eggs, use four whole eggs and two egg whites.

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