Looking for a few good fruits? Try mangoes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 27, 2001

One of my favorite things about summer is fresh vegetables and fruits.

There is no better time to try a new fruit than now when they are at the peak of freshness and availability. If you are looking for a new fruit to try I would suggest a mango. Mangoes come in a variety of sizes and shapes, such as round, oblong and kidney shaped. When choosing a mango at the market look for a large, slightly green and yellow skin that is blushed with red. There are a few varieties that are solid green when ripe. With all varieties a ripe mango will be very fragrant and softly yielding when squeezed. Mangoes have an oversized flat seed that runs lengthwise in the fruit so you need to look for a large fruit to ensure a high fruit-to-seed ratio.

The flesh of the mango is very fragrant, bright golden orange and very sweet and juicy. While they are great in many recipes they are also delicious peeled and eaten plain.

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Try your newfound favorite fruit in these recipes to add a taste of the tropics to your summer meals.

Grapefruit, Mango and Sweet Onion Salad

Dressing ingredients

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1 tablespoon minced red bell pepper

3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

Salad ingredients

1 small head leaf lettuce, torn into bite size pieces

2 medium pink seedless grapefruits, segmented and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 medium mangoes, peeled, pitted and chopped

1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced

1/4-cup fresh chopped cilantro, optional

Whisk the dressing ingredients together. Cover and let set for an hour to allow the flavors to blend.

Layer the lettuce, grapefruit and mango in a salad bowl and top with the onion. Sprinkle with the cilantro if you are using. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Just before serving, pour dressing over the salad and toss to coat. You can substitute oranges for the grapefruit.

This next recipe, mango salsa, is perfect with grilled meats and fish. It’s also good by itself with chips as a dip. Like most salsas it is best if made ahead so the flavors can blend.

Mango Salsa

2 cups diced ripe mango

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint or cilantro

1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

1/4-teaspoon fresh lime juice

Salt and pepper to taste.

Mix all the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

Tip: If all you can find are underripe mangoes you can place them in a paper bag and leave at room temperature for a few days. They will ripen beautifully. If you find ripe mangoes and aren’t ready to use them, they will hold for about two days in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Christina Hall writes a weekly food column for The Democrat.