To be honest, this recipe almost didn't make it to the blog. After hollowing out the papaya, I thought, "Stuff the blog. I'm just going to eat this papaya right here, right now." But thanks to my incredible powers of self-control, I managed to get these into the oven and even hold off eating them until I had taken the photos.
Which is a lie.
I ate one papaya, and stuffed the other.
Pfft! You wouldn't have known.
Now, you can make this with green papaya, but I like the taste of almost ripe papaya better. It adds a sweetness to the dish, much like pumpkin or carrots.
Serve this hot out of the oven with rice and a salad.
Esi Fafao (serves 4)
1 small onion
1 red pepper
4 cloves garlic
½ cup fresh parsley
½ cup fresh basil
1 tablespoon oil
½ pound (250 grams) ground beef
1 cup grated cheese
¼ cup breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
extra grated cheese for topping (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F(180°C).
Halve the papayas. Spoon out the seeds and discard. Scoop out some papaya flesh and put that aside (it will be added to the meat mixture). Be sure to leave enough flesh all around the inside of the skin to hold the filling. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet (use foil wedges to keep them from rolling around, if necessary).
Dice the onion and pepper. Finely chop the garlic, and roughly chop the parsley and basil.
Heat the oil in a frypan and brown the beef. Drain off the fat, then return to the heat, adding the onions, peppers and garlic. Cook until fragrant then turn the heat off. Cool slightly, then throw in the rest of the ingredients, including the reserved papaya flesh. Season the mixture to taste.
Divide evenly between the papaya shells, top with a little more grated cheese if desired, and bake for 50-60 minutes.