Papaya, Chickpea and Feta Salad

Serves: 4
Cost: ~€4.30
Preparation time: ~25 minutes
Calories: ~550 per serving

Greetings folks – it’s Sunday, and while for many of us that does mean it’s just one day of blissful weekend left before returning to work on Monday, I’m not going to think about that right now. Oh no, for it’s a brand new day – time to sit on the balcony and stuff yourself with pancakes topped with a big blob of butter and… is that raspberry jam? Oops, seems that someone forgot to buy the maple syrup – well, never mind – a wonderful pot of coffee and a stack of pancakes and a day of nothingness ahead of me – what could be better?

The weather seems to have taken a turn for the HOT and all urges of turning on the oven or stove have fled from my mind. A colleague of mine very kindly brought me some halloumi in the week – it’s not the easiest thing to find in France. You often have to seek out overpriced Lebanese specialty stores (don’t ask me why, considering it’s a Cypriot cheese), but anyway – his parents were visiting him from Cyprus and brought over some halloumi for him and he very kindly brought me some of his stash! One of my favourite ways of eating it is just simply frying it and eating it atop a lovely couscous salad, loaded with fresh parsley, the lovely zing of lemon juice permeating throughout – It’s cool, quick and easy to make – perfect for hot weather. I had all the ingredients I needed, so I set to work.

I didn’t get very far.

I pulled out the box of couscous from the cupboard to reveal literally a small handful of of the stuff. I know it swells in water but expecting that to swell to a sufficient quantity to feed us both for dinner and lunch the next day would be pushing it a bit alas. I pondered what I could do instead for a bit and decided to chuck a few things together, including a papaya that I’d bought a couple of days previously. I was enormously satisfied with the results – packed with flavour and a real bit of zing in each bite, with just a hint of fresh, cold sweetness from the papaya. If you can get halloumi then I recommend this, but if not then feta works equally well! The tiny bit of couscous provides a perfect bit of “glue” which binds together with the rest of the ingredients to bulk it out nicely.

Papaya, Chickpea and Feta Salad

Let me ask you something though – What’s the deal with papayas? Am I missing out somewhere? Perhaps I’ve just never had a good one, but to me they just always seem like almost tasteless melons. I think that’s why the flavour works so well in this salad – there’s no sensation of “fruit” coming through to create some funky combination with the cheese and tomato… no, it just sits there in the background, sweetening things up a bit sometimes and giving a bit of body – lovely stuff!

Have a great day everyone – see you back on Wednesday and don’t forget – you still have a week from today to enter my giveaway if you didn’t already! :)

Papaya, Chickpea and Feta Salad

[learn_more caption=”Video Recipe”]



Papaya salad ingredients

  • 1 Papaya
  • 500g prepared Chickpeas
  • 80g of couscous (dry weight)
  • A large handful of Cherry Tomatoes
  • A 10cm length of Cucumber
  • 1 Red Pepper
  • 1 Onion
  • ~150g Feta Cheese or Halloumi
  • A good handful of fresh Parsley
  • A small handful of fresh Mint
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • ~5 tbsps Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper


  1. Start off by chopping the feta or halloumi cheese into small chunks. Place into a bowl and then finely chop the mint. Add this in and pour in a couple of tablespoons of the Olive Oil. Mix well and set aside to allow the flavours to infuse for a few moments while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
    Mixing the cheese with the mint
  2. Bring about 100ml of water to the boil in a pan and when boiling, remove from the heat and add the couscous into the bottom. Stir well and set aside. Meanwhile, peel the onion and finely chop along with the cucumber and the parsley. Cut the tomatoes and red pepper into bite-size pieces, and then cut the papaya in half. Remove the seeds and then peel the two halves before chopping into small chunks.
    Mixing all ingredients together
  3. Place the papaya into a large bowl with the chickpeas, the cucumber, tomatoes, red pepper, parsley, onion, feta cheese, lemon and lime juice and the rest of the olive oil. Drain off any excess water from the couscous, if needed, and add to the bowl with a few good twists of salt and pepper before mixing well to combine all ingredients. Serve immediately and enjoy!
    Papaya, Chickpea and Feta Salad

    Papaya, Chickpea and Feta Salad


  1. says

    What a light and refreshing salad, Charles. Papaya is a great aid to digestion, so pairing it with the cheese was perfect. The colours of this salad are very pretty too. Hope you have a great week too.

    • says

      Thanks Eva – I had no idea it was so good at aiding digestion, though it seems there’s some real papaya hate going on around here… people say it’s too fragrant? I guess I really need to find me a good papaya because they have almost no fragrance or flavour to me. I just love the colour and coolness of them!

  2. says

    I am wary of buying papayas because they can be so wooody, dry and tasteless. But the organic ones are incredible. A totally different melon experience. I would say that most papayas commercially grown are harvested long before they are ripe and that is what is causing the disappointing flavour. What a great salad but that is so strange that you can’t buy halloumi cheese readily. In France of all places! I would have thought you’d have it in abundance. Here it’s available in every supermarket, not a problem. I love it sliced and grilled and served on top of a barbequed loin of lamb – but I’d try it with this salad too! xx

    • says

      Hi Charlie – I actually discovered from someone that there is one place in a town nearby that sells halloumi… it’s a Lebanese market-stall. I can’t wait to check it out, I really think I’d end up buying about a ton of the stuff! 😀

  3. says

    “What’s the deal with papayas?” I couldn’t tell you — I’ll only eat green papaya in green papaya salad. You know how you feel about cauliflower? Well…

    • says

      lol, Sharyn 😀

      I never actually had green papaya, and didn’t even realise it was a “thing” until googling it. What’s it like?

  4. says

    Another chickpea dish….yumm.

    I am not a feta fan, and I cannot stand the smell of raw papaya. Too bad. But I love the freshness, and I can only imagine how lovely it will be for those who love the juicey flavors of papaya and feta cheese.

    I making a chickpea salad today.

    • says

      Hi Minnie, I guess I must get some really “boring” papayas, because the flavour and smell seems very dull to me – it’s why I don’t mind it in the salad because it just adds a lovely element of coolness and colour!

  5. says

    I’m not a big fan of salads like these but this one certainly looked colourful, and, I’m sure, was quite tasty. I have both regular and Israeli couscous in my pantry and am looking for possible recipes to use them up in my great ‘pantry cleanout’ project.

    • says

      “I’m sure, was quite tasty”

      Very much so :)

      Israeli couscous is the giant fat stuff which looks a bit like barley, right? I don’t think I ever used that before… I’ll have to check it out.

  6. says

    The deal with papaya is that they are picked before fully ripened. An in season tree ripened papaya is aromatic and flavorful.
    Your salad looks so refreshing.

    • says

      Hi Norma, I can understand that, but in that case, papayas must take really badly to this method of cultivation and distribution. Picking fruit before it’s ripe is very universtal practice, and while it’s not conducive to perfect tasting fruit… nothing can beat tree-ripening really… we still get perfectly ok results in stores usually, but papayas are just… so nondescript…

      • says

        I have issues with papaya I buty in the supermarket, sometimes I get a really good one other times it is like cardboard. I think it depends on which country it is from and the time of year, haven’t quite figure it out yet. It may also be they are being picked way too young (immature).

  7. says

    How PERFECT for Summer! I recently started liking Feta. I was just ok about it, so I’m excited to have found a unique way to enjoy it! (not to mention Papaya is one of my FAVORITE fruits)

    • says

      Thanks Squishy – I adore feta… if you try this though, I’d really recommend trying it with halloumi first! That is like “omg awesome”. :)

  8. says

    Hi Charles,

    I’m really on the fence with Papaya. I’ve had some dishes at restaurants which have been lovely but every time I’ve tried to use Papya at home the result has been naff-I think now they must have been under ripe. However your salad looks lovely-might try it with mango just to be on the safe side!!

    • says

      Hi GD – What sort of things did you have with papaya in the restaurant? I’d love to have a try at making more stuff with it.

      I’m not sure about the mango – I love the flavour but I find it tastes too much. If you found a papaya which was watery and juicy and colourful, but not necessarily full of flavour then I think it would be perfect!

      • says

        Hi Charles,

        I’ve had a lovely first course of Papaya with feta cheese and a mains of grilled kebabs of King Prawns with chunks of papaya glazed in a sweet chilli and garlic sauce…

  9. says

    The best papaya I’ve ever tasted was, perhaps not surprisingly, in Mexico. The varieties we import in Canada are not bad but never as good as where they are natively grown. I adore this type of salad Charles…this is the kind of food I eat pretty much every day… the couscous and papaya reminds me of my quinoa, strawberry toss. Love fruit in salads! So yummy with the halloumi too… lovely styling Charles.

    • says

      Hi Kelly – I was actually thinking that quinoa would be a really great replacement for the couscous. From the comments here I’m starting to feel like I’ve never had a good papaya and that bums me out a bit… what are they like? Do they have a strong flavour which makes me think “tropical fruit”? Mango has that sort of flavour to me…

  10. says

    Absolutely yummy! I love salads, any salad and especially ones with chickpeas. That’s already a meal on its own. I’ve never tried adding papaya in a salad tho (except maybe a fruit salad). Great idea!

    • says

      Thanks Ping – I don’t cook with papaya much either… last time I used it was when I made a fruit salad out of “10 fruits which I’ve either never heard of or don’t normally eat”… hehe, that was a lot of fun :)

  11. says

    I hate it when I go to get the key ingredients for a recipe I’m about to make, only to discover that the bag/box is almost empty! Been there too Charles. I keep trying to like papaya, but to no avail. The way you describe this though, it sounds like I just might like it. Loving all of the salad inspiration these days Charles. Hope you had a good weekend. Our relatives from out West have been here, so I’m behind on the blogging once again. I also have been flagged by the WordPress anti-spam filters so none of my comments have been appearing on WP blogs for a few days now…sigh, always something. I’ve been emailing and I’m hoping to have this resolved this week!

    • says

      Hi Barb, I can’t understand the dislike of papaya here… I think I must have never had a real good, ripe one because they always smell and taste almost of nothing… hmm :-/

      I hope you have a bit of calmness back at your place now after your busy sounding weekend, and I hope you have the spamming of your comments fixed too – did you get a reply from them yet?

  12. says

    I love everything about this salad Charles! It looks so refreshing and perfect for a weeknight meal followed by lunch the next day. Looks like I’ll be making another one of your recipes soon. :) Your mushroom pasta is planned for Tuesday this week. Yum! I can’t wait. Gorgeous colors in this salad too. It makes me smile and feel happy. Well, here’s to a good Monday…I’d much rather have another Sunday though.

    • says

      Hi Kristy – It’s pasta day today… I hope you enjoy it :)

      For the salad, it’s nice because juices come out and mingle in the salad overnight, so by the next day everything is in a state of hyper infusement, which isn’t even a word, but you get my point 😉

  13. says

    Ooh my this is a lovely salad! We love our chick peas here and adore cous cous, but would never have thought of mixing the two together, Delicious and perfect for the summer weather.

    • says

      Thanks Chica – can’t beat chick peas – they’re so nom-nom-licious :)

      The salad is even better the next day in my opinion, once mixed with all the juice from the fruit and veg over-night.

  14. says

    I love chickpeas and feta together, and I love hallumi when I can get it and not pay a fortune. Mostly I love all the flavors in this very refreshing sounding salad, though I don’t think I’ve ever used a papaya in my “cooking.” May have to give it a try. Thanks for another wonderful sounding chickpea recipe!

    • says

      Thanks Betsy – Halloumi….. mmmm, you know, I was told there’s a guy in a nearby town who runs a Lebanese market stall which sells the stuff! I just HAVE to go and check it out :)

  15. says

    What a great recipe to come up with on the fly like that! I think some of our most creative moments happen when least expected. Speaking of “expected”, I was expecting the papaya. I love papaya and don’t eat it near as much as I would like. This salad is a great excuse to buy one! Hope you have a wonderful week!

    • says

      Thanks MJ – I think the best thing of all about papayas is how they look inside… just incredibly beautiful! Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

  16. says

    Oh my, all my favorite ingredients (sans papaya). Fantastic job for just throwing it together, you are my kind of salad maker. Wonder how mango would go in place of the papaya, LOL? I bet you ate garbanzos growing up, I love those beans, probably my fave. Have a wonderful week, my friend.

    • says

      Hi Suzi – I’m not sure about the mango to be honest – I love the stuff, but I find the flavour is very strong. I loved the papaya here because it was bland… just watery, colourful with a hint of sweetness, but now it turns out that apparently papayas aren’t usually like this?

    • says

      Hi Balvinder – I think quinoa would go perfectly in this! I’m actually planning on making it this way myself next time :)

    • says

      Hi Sawsan – can you get melon there? Not water melon but other types? I think it might work well with some cubed melon – it really gives a great bit of background freshness in my opinion!

  17. says

    Hi Charles! Although I like the crunchiness of green papaya salad, I am not a big fan of papaya much. It has the certain smell of it that it’s hard for me to consider fruits… I know I am weird! But I eat enough and I start appreciating it and this cycle always happen every year. My husband buys it and I reluctantly eat it and then I start enjoying it. So funny how I can’t just love every season from the beginning… Your salad looks good! I’ve never had papaya in salad. I can’t imagine how it tastes like and I’m definitely intrigued!

    • says

      Hi Nami – I actually had no idea people ate “green papaya”… I’ve never heard of it until I looked it up on Google… I’d love to try it… is it slightly sour like a very hard mango?

      It seems I’ve never had a “good” papaya… all the ones I’ve had are low in flavour and smell so I can’t really know what they’re truly like… must try and find a really good one, then maybe I will change my mind about wanting to put it in a salad, lol 😀

  18. says

    What a wonderful, creative salad! I love the variety of colours too.
    Where do you buy your papayas? Those I see in Asian shops have such a strong aroma, I simply never buy them (I’m not a papaya fan, just like Nami I cannot stand the smell, so I would replace it here with mango probably). The thing is that the Europeans don’t know how to recognise the quality of exotic fruits, so they are often tasteless and low-quality when sold in supermarkets. On the other hand in Asian shops many clients come from exotic fruit growing countries and now how to recognise a ripe, good fruit (it’s just my theory).

    • says

      Hi Sissi,

      I usually get my papayas, either from Auchan or Carrefour. I never tried getting one from an Asian supermarket… I didn’t even know they were considered an Asian fruit to be honest. All these comments have got me really curious as to what a good papaya really tastes like – maybe I will change my mind about putting it in salad, lol 😀

      I think mango might be too strong flavoured for this – if you must replace the papaya then I would recommend cubes of melon (not watermelon but other kinds like honeydew). It would be the most faithful reproduction of the gentle sweetness and background freshness!

  19. says

    I’m going to feature this in my blog’s daily foodporn list called “Daily Foodporn For Your Inspiration”. Check it out. You might get to find a new cooking and food blogs too. Don’t worry, I will definitely link back here.

  20. says

    I absolutely love it for a light colorful summer dish. I guess this is one case where not so tasty papaya works better than a sweet one. 😉 I also don’t think it’s only the papayas that lack in flavor. In Denmark we get most fruits and vegetables from abroad, which means they’re not picked up when fully ripe. It makes such a huge difference when it comes to fruit sweetness and vegetable flavors.

    • says

      Hi Marie – ah, tell me about it… I made the mistake of buying two mangoes in north of Sweden once. Now, in France, it’s not really “the tropics”, but we probably eat a fair bit of mango here. We can usually get pretty tasty mangoes. The ones I bought in Sweden… aw, I was so sad. They were just the worst I’ve ever seen in my life!

    • says

      Hi Kankana, when you say “raw”, do you mean “green papaya”, because this papaya in the salad is fresh and not cooked or anything like that :)

  21. says

    I have always felt that couscous was indeed best as “glue” as you say. It is just not interesting enough alone. It doesn’t have the tooth of other pastas so it needs other textures to help you appreciate it’s finer points. Of course papaya is a very creative solution and one that intrigues me thanks. GREG

    • says

      Hi Greg – I gotta say, in a good couscous (as in, the middle-eastern/arabic dish itself) couscous is really good… I can’t think of anything else which would work so well with the lovely rich sauce and vegetables, but it’s true – on its own it’s often a bit “meh”.

  22. says

    Hi Charles,

    Just to let you know I made your salad this weekend and it was absolutely delicious!! Ripe and ready to eat papaya were on special offer 2 for £1.50 so I went for it to give them another go and this time they were lovely and juicy and the resulting salad was marvellous. Definitely one to do again-thank you so much for giving me the nudge to give them another chance!!

  23. says

    We make chickpea salad quite often, but have never thought to add papaya. This sounds wonderful and is very inventive.

    • says

      Thanks Greg – I guess a lot of papayas here aren’t very tasty ones, hence why I was able to add it and still keep the salad tasty!

  24. says

    Hmm… I wonder why so many people do not like papaya. Here is Asia it is so sweet and delicious and vibrant orange. I love the Mediterranean flavors of the dish and the Halloumi cheese sounds like a fun addition. Take care, BAM

  25. says

    What a beautiful salad! I would have never come up with this combination of ingredients, but now I’m ready for a bowlful :) I loved Paris (despite being there in monsoon season ;))…but I need to come back without the kids for some fine dining and shopping (I don’t think I’ll mention the shopping part to the hubby…LOL).

    • says

      Hi Liz, it’s too bad – the weather was terrible around when you came. It’s still not perfect now… rain one day, sun the next. I went to Chinatown on Saturday and bought a huge papaya… it’s about 3x bigger than normal ones… can’t wait to try it! 😀

    • says

      Thanks RG – lucky for you… today is the first day of proper hot weather we’ve had in weeks! Just in time too, I’m on vacation next week :)

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