Mealtime: Papaya-Avocado Salad and Watermelon-Coconut Refresher | Kids VT | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Mealtime: Papaya-Avocado Salad and Watermelon-Coconut Refresher 

Published June 29, 2021 at 10:00 a.m.

click to enlarge Papaya-Avocado Salad - ANDY BRUMBAUGH
  • Andy Brumbaugh
  • Papaya-Avocado Salad

When summer gets underway in Vermont, I like to make dishes that hail from warmer climates. This month, I went with a tropical theme: papaya-avocado salad and a thirst-quenching drink made with watermelon and coconut.

Papaya is a popular ingredient in a wide range of countries, from Mexico to the Philippines. When unripe, it's green and crunchy and is often used in curries, stews or the popular Thai salad som tam. In its ripe form, it's a deep orange color, sweet and so buttery that it almost melts in your mouth. To ensure that your papaya is ripe, make sure it's a little soft to the touch and has plenty of yellow or orange skin.

Though avocado toast and guacamole are popular dishes now, avocados have been enjoyed for millenia. Some sources say they were first eaten about 10,000 years ago in Mexico and cultivated 5,000 years ago. They are full of healthy fats and rich in vitamins, and they have more potassium than bananas. Because avocado and papaya have similar textures, they pair well together on top of a spinach salad with a zesty lime vinaigrette.

The watermelon-coconut refresher is a great beverage for a hot day. With both blended chunks of watermelon and coconut water, it's super hydrating. I used reduced-fat coconut milk in it, so the drink doesn't feel heavy. Whip up a batch and keep it in a frosty pitcher in the fridge so it's ready to drink when you need to beat the heat.

Papaya-Avocado Salad

(Serves 4-6)


  • 1 ripe papaya
  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint


  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/8 cup avocado oil or olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • pinch salt


  1. Cut papaya in half lengthwise, and remove and discard its black seeds. Scoop out the flesh and cut into small pieces (or use a melon baller like I did).
  2. Cut the avocados in half and carefully remove the pits. Use a spoon to remove the flesh from the skin, and cut into small pieces.
  3. Make the dressing by putting the lime juice, oil, honey and salt into a small jar. If there is any leftover papaya juice, add that as well. Cover and shake vigorously.
  4. Add the papaya and avocado to the spinach, then toss with dressing. Top with fresh mint and serve.

Watermelon-Coconut Refresher

click to enlarge Watermelon-Coconut Refresher - ANDY BRUMBAUGH
  • Andy Brumbaugh
  • Watermelon-Coconut Refresher

(Makes 8 glasses)


  • 1 mini watermelon (or about 6 cups watermelon chunks)
  • 1 can reduced-fat coconut milk
  • 1 liter coconut water
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice


  1. Make this recipe in two batches unless you have a very large blender.
  2. Puree half of the watermelon in a blender, then add half of the coconut milk and half of the coconut water and blend well.
  3. Pour into a large pitcher and repeat with the second half.
  4. Stir the lime juice and mint into the drink. (If you prefer the mint in smaller pieces, you can add it to the blender.)
  5. Serve chilled, over ice if desired.

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.

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