It’s summertime in Bermuda, and pawpaws are ripe for the picking. The colour of the fruit, both inside and out, is a beautiful golden orange as warm as the summer’s setting sun. The pawpaw tree can produce fruit all year round, so you probably had pawpaws on your tree all winter when they were green and considered them a vegetable; now, however, the pawpaw can entice you with its deliciously sweet, musky taste and butterlike consistency. In fact, they are perfect for summer salads or salsas to accompany your barbecue fare. It’s no wonder Christopher Columbus called pawpaws the fruit of angels.

Bermuda is pawpaw paradise. It is believed the tree was introduced as early as 1616. They require no cultivation and grow quickly in just a few months, so it’s no wonder pawpaw trees are a common sight around the island. We fear, however, that as Bermuda continues to overdevelop her land, many Bermudians will never know what it’s like to have pawpaw Montespan prepared from pawpaws growing in their backyard.

Having said that, if you search for different varieties of pawpaws to purchase, you might be pleasantly surprised by the locally grown fruit for sale. Amaral’s has been known to have the beautiful Costa Rican variety. Exceptionally large, this beauty can have lovely rose-coloured flesh. Teddy Chapman, winner of multiple awards for pawpaws years ago at the annual Agricultural Exhibition, used to grow the West Indian variety among others while a Hawaiian variety has been spotted at Windybank Farm.

The Healthy Pawpaw
Pawpaws offer not only the luscious taste and sunlit colour of the tropics, but they are also rich sources of antioxidant nutrients such as carotenes, vitamin C and flavonoids; the B vitamins folate and pantothenic acid; and minerals potassium and magnesium; and fiber. Together, these nutrients promote the health of the cardiovascular system and also provide protection against colon cancer. In addition, Pawpaws contain the digestive enzyme, papain, which is used to treat sports injuries, other causes of trauma and allergies.

Here are a few of our favourite recipes to enjoy the fruits of summer, fresh-picked Bermuda pawpaws.

Pawpaw Mint Dressing and Fruit Salad
1 ripe medium pawpaw, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
3/4 cup mango nectar
2 tbsp. Rice-wine vinegar
2 tsp. Minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp. Sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
Assorted fresh fruit, sliced
1 bunch mint, chopped fine (reserve some whole leaves for garnish)

In blender combine 1/2 pawpaw, nectar, vinegar, ginger and sugar, and blend until smooth.

With motor running, pour in olive oil in a slow, steady stream until incorporated. Pour into a bowl, stir in mint and refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. Pour over remaining pawpaw combined with other fresh fruit and garnish with mint leaves.

Grilled Shrimp and Pawpaw Salad
16 whole large shrimp deveined and shelled
2 ripe medium to large pawpaws, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
2 tsp. Asian chili oil
1 lb. arugula
1 Bermuda onion, finely sliced
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 small jalapeño pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup olive oil plus extra for brushing shrimp
1/2 cup peanuts, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat grill.
Brush the shrimp with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill the shrimp until just cooked, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Season pawpaw with salt and chili oil. Grill for 2 minutes, or until grill marks appear and papaya softens.
Arrange the arugula on a large platter. Top with the pawpaw and green onion. Whist together the lemon and lime juices, soy sauce, jalapeño and olive oil until combined. Dress salad. Mound all of the shrimp in the centre of the platter. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and sprinkle with peanuts and cilantro.

Mango Pawpaw Salsa
1/2 firm ripe pawpaw
1 medium firm ripe mango
1/2 medium red onion, chopped fine
3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/2 small jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Seed and peel pawpaw. Peel mango and cut flesh from pit. Cut pawpaw and mango into 1/4-inch diced and in a small bowl toss with onion and lime juice. Stir diced jalapeño into salsa with cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. Chill salsa, covered, at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

Pawpaw-Avocado Salad
1 ripe pawpaw, peeled, seeds removed, and cut into -inch dice
1 large avocado, peeled, seed removed, and cut into -inch dice
1 tbsp. minced red onion
1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. fresh lime juice
1/8 tsp. salt

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir to combine. Serve immediately.

Pawpaw Montespan
4 green pawpaws, skinned and diced
Thinly sliced ripe tomatoes
3/4 cup tomato sauce
1 large Bermuda onion, sliced and fried
1 lb. ground top round, browned
Grated cheddar cheese
Bread crumbs

Cook pawpaws until tender. Season with salt and pepper, mash and put a layer into a greased baking dish. Cover with a thin layer of tomatoes followed by tomato sauce, then meat and onion, then cheese. Repeat these layers until all ingredients are used. Finish with pawpaw, sprinkle with cheese. Cover with bread crumbs. Bake at 350° F for 40 minutes.