If this summer's hot, hazy weather is beginning to wear thin, why not pretend you're in the islands and perk up your meals with a tropical twist! Luscious mangos are at the peak of their season right now. That means they are at their sweetest, juiciest, and most flavorful.
They are also inexpensive - local markets have the mangos priced as low as two for a dollar! Now is a perfect time to enjoy the fresh fruit with your breakfast, or add them to a fruit salad plate.
Mangos can replace the more traditional grapes in a fruity chicken salad (if you do, try adding a little curry to the seasonings). Of course, they can be used in a refreshing fruit smoothie, or pureed and made into a mango ice cream. The choices are endless - and all delicious!
When selecting mangos, choose those that are firm but not hard, and yield gently under pressure. Look for fruit that have smooth, unblemished skin and no bruising. The skin may have some green in it, but it should be predominately yellow to red in color.
Mangos do continue to ripen after picking, so if you aren't planning to use them immediately, select fruit that is slightly under ripe and allow it to set at room temperature to ripen. Be careful, though, not to let it over- ripen or you'll wind up with a mushy texture that's not too appealing.
The mango has a long flat seed that runs lengthwise from the blossom to the stem end. To cut the fruit, run a sharp knife just off center lengthwise, letting the blade rest against the seed. Slice along the other side of the seed in the same manner, then trim the remaining flesh off of the seed. This will yield two large pieces perfect for slicing or dicing, as well as a few smaller pieces.
Here's a recipe for an unusual cooked Mango Salsa. It's equally tasty hot or cold served with chicken, fish, or pork. The recipe makes a good amount, 2 to 3 cups, depending on the size of the mango. Since the salsa freezes nicely, this allows for a quick and easy meal on a future sultry summer day.
Try to dice everything to a uniform size - about a quarter inch is a good size. Put the mango, onion, pineapples with juice, and the tomato into a large skillet. Bring the mix to a boil, then stir in the chicken bouillon, chili powder, lemon juice, and hot pepper sauce (if using).
Stir well. Reduce the heat and let the salsa simmer for about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, or refrigerate and serve chilled. This is good served over chicken, fish, or pork. It is also nice over rice for a vegetarian dish.