<img src="http://static1.squarespace.com/static/55413e07e4b0cd39c01f4040/5546dc6de4b09a1d83e23aad/5546dc7fe4b09a1d83e23dee/1430707647867//img.jpg feels like home to us.
Its my second week in Miami and its starting to feel like home. We had a weird first week — JiT attended a training out of town, so I was on my own for five days — so it sort of felt like I was on a solo vacation. But now that he’s back, we’re starting to settle into a normal pattern again.
Even so, there are some new “normals” I’m still getting used to. My favorite things about Miami so far:
– The PRODUCE! I visited Whole Foods and purchased oranges, strawberries, raspberries, papaya, avocado and mangoes….and nearly all of it was grown right here in my new home state. I even saw a TV commercial for a u-pick strawberry farm thats open right now. I’m still trying to wrap my cold, midwestern brain around the possibilities here.
– The weather has been fantastic….in the mid-seventies and sunny nearly everyday since we arrived. And this week we’re supposed to rise into the 80s. Its almost surreal considering where we came from.
<img src="http://static1.squarespace.com/static/55413e07e4b0cd39c01f4040/5546dc6de4b09a1d83e23aad/5546dc7fe4b09a1d83e23ded/1430707641355//img.jpg just wander for a block or two until I find someplace to whir me up a smoothie. Ahhh. Delicious.
– The wildlife here is completely different than the Midwest and full of surprises. In fact, we saw this gigantic manatee swimming in the bay just a few blocks from our apartment last weekend. This was right in the downtown area and we just happened to look over the edge of the retaining wall at just the right moment. Its sort of a magical feeling to see a creature this large and gentle, floating around in a big city!
Even so, Miami weather doesn’t jive with our typical January comfort food of roasts, soups and stews so instead I’ve been experimenting with more summery, tropical fare. The best dishes so far have been fish tacos, Saigon cabbage salad with cilantro-lime shrimp, and our new favorite starter: Papaya & Avocado Salad.
I know it sounds like a really weird combination but its actually quite refreshing. The creamy avocado provides the perfect balance for the sweetness of the papaya. For a final kick, tear some fresh basil leaves on top (mint would probably be good too), sprinkle on some kosher salt and give it a squirt of lime. The flavor is bright, refreshing, sweet and salty and the colors are absolutely brilliant on the plate. I got the idea from the February issue of Martha Stewart Living, but we adapted this slightly to suit our tastes. And its so easy to make that we seem to be putting a plate together almost every night.
I know most of you are experiencing a deep freeze right now and this might not sound too appealing, but if you’re looking for a way to bring some sunshine to your world (and your mouth), this is an easy way to do it. Not to mention the great nutritional benefits: avocados are a good source of healthy monounsaturated fats, potassium and other nutrients, while papaya is rich in Vitamin C, folate and potassium. And lets not forget they’re delicious.
Papaya & Avocado Salad
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living
1 large, ripe papaya
2 ripe haas avocados
3 – 4 fresh basil leaves, torn to bite size
Fresh lemon juice from 1/2 a lemon
Kosher salt to taste
Cut papaya in half lengthwise, scoop out and discard the seeds. Slice each half of the papaya widthwise into 1/2 inch wide half-moon shaped pieces. Use a paring knife to cut the skin from each slice.
Next, slice each avocado in half lengthwise; remove and discard the pit. Using a paring knife, score slices 1/2 inch lengthwise slices all the way through the flesh of the avocado, but do not pierce the outer skin. Use a large spoon to carefully scoop the avocado flesh from the skin and separate the individual slices.
Divide papaya and avocado slices into four portions and arrange on four individual plates. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over each plate, sprinkle with salt to taste and dot with basil pieces. Serve immediately.