Picadillo of Papaya Verde (Green Papaya)

Recipe from Arenas del Mar (with liberties taken)

  • By Mara Jernigan
  • November 1, 2010
  • Yield: 4


3 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
¼ white onion – sliced
½ medium red pepper – diced
½ cup cooked ham – chopped
2½ tbsp powdered chicken stock (optional)
½ tbsp annatto paste (without spices)
1 tbsp Lizano sauce (available at Latin foods stores)
1 cup green papaya – peeled and grated
½ cup cilantro leaves – coarsely chopped
8 small corn tortillas


Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion and red pepper until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the ham and stir into the onion mixture until heated through. Add the powdered chicken stock, annatto paste, Lizano sauce, papaya and cilantro. Stir frequently until mixture is slightly caramelized and turns a lovely orange hue from the annatto paste.

While the picadillo finishes cooking, heat corn tortillas in a warm oven or in a dry frying pan over medium heat.

Serve picadillo with warm tortillas and hot sauce.

Options: Grated or small-diced potato is an easy stand-in for green papaya, as is arracache (a Costa Rican root vegetable). Meat, firm white fish, shellfish or even scrambled eggs on the side are all welcome additions to this recipe.

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