Recipe: Papaya-Cantaloupe-Coconut Salad

So, we discovered yesterday that one of the large grocery store chains here in Mexico City has online ordering and delivery. Just like NYC. I signed up and went a little nuts — since we don’t own a car, we can only carry so many groceries home, even though it’s a fairly short two-block walk. This was my chance to get heavy, fluid-based products. In mass quantities. And bet your bippy, indeed I did:

Papaya Close Up

Along with this juicy papaya from Chiapas, I bought a coconut, cantaloupe, limes and bananas. The produce here is exceptionally fresh, since it’s all grown nearby. Year-round.

But, there’s just two of us, and the dog. So, what the hell did I do with all this produce?

I made a mouth-wateringly good fruit salad. Check out my bounty:

Joy’s Papaya-Cantaloupe-Coconut (and maybe bananas) Salad


– A ripe papaya

– A ripe cantaloupe

– A ripe coconut

– If desired, little bananas — the tropical sweet kind

– Juice of 2 or 3 limes

– Salt, chili pepper (if desired, this is an acquired taste that I’ve definitely acquired, but it’s odd to some. If you like salt on your watermelon, chances are you’ll like it).

Directions: Drill holes in the coconut, using any means necessary. Electric drills work great, so does a hammer and nail. Drain the coconut juice out:

drain the coconut

Then smash the shell to bits in a towel:

smash the coconut

Then, work meticulously to remove the flesh from the shell, rinse off debris, and place in a food processor and grind it up. It’s OK to keep on the thin brown shell layer attached to the flesh.

(Reducing a whole coconut to grated bits is exhausting, but you’ll keep reminding yourself that you’re burning calories).

You’ll only need about 1/2 the flesh of the coconut for a big bowl of fruit salad. You can freeze the rest and use it any way you wish.

Then, slice open and scoop out the seeds from your cantaloupe and papayas:



Scoop ’em out with melon baller or ice scream scoop or equally round tool. Or slice them up in squares or however you want.

Mix it all together in a big bowl and add lime juice and other spices, if desired. Let sit in the fridge for a few hours. Immediately before serving you can add bananas, too — don’t add those early on, or they’ll get mushy and gross.


fruit salad!

11 thoughts on “Recipe: Papaya-Cantaloupe-Coconut Salad

  1. junemoon says:

    I love salt on watermelon. I love salt, period. And I like hot spicy foods. Your salad looks so mouthwatering! It sounds like a lot of work to get the coconut meat out of the shell 😦 but all good things come to those who work or some such thing. Thank you for sharing your pics and recipe! junemoon

  2. Martha says:

    Ahhh, this brings back memories of my childhood. Papaya with lime juice. Yumm. And spending lots of time trying to pry that last bit of coconut from the shell! I used a hammer and nail.

  3. Betty Victory says:

    When my age was mostly in the single digits, my friend, Joyce, and I would use an old time ice pick to get the coconut milk with straws. Then out on the sidewalk, we would use a hammer. Yummmmm

  4. Joy says:

    I think next time I will just buy pre-cut coconuts. While nothing beats extremely fresh coconut — nothing! — I just don’t have time nor energy to crack ’em on a regular basis.

  5. Betty Victory says:

    You sound like your Grandma Vera. She REALLY loved coconut and made wonderful coconut cake. Yes, precut is a good idea. Just too much trouble, otherwise.

  6. Michelle Cassady says:

    I’m a student at the California State University in Bakersfield and we just finished reading Esperanza Rising where we learned that Esperanza’s grandmother made her papaya, coconut, and lime salad every year for her birthday. We will be having a celebration in the classroom the last day of class and we’re all supposed to take a piece of the book that inspired us and create something to share with the rest of the class. I will be making your recipe. Thank you so much for the beautiful picture. I wasn’t sure if I would make it because it somewhat sounded like an odd combination but the picture sealed the deal. Thank you.

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