It's a great time for mangoes! Here are some tips to help you choose and prepare them at home.
At the market: There are many varieties of mangoes, and color is not the best indicator of ripeness. It is best to choose them by touch and smell. Select full, somewhat firm fruit. Skin should be taut, smooth and waxy. They should have a strong perfume-like aroma. Avoid damaged, bruised, or shriveled fruit.
Storage at home: Mangoes that are a bit too firm, will ripen if left on the countertop. Mangoes that are ripe should be used, but can be refrigerated for 1-2 days.
Preparation: Mango skin is not edible and they have a pit. The pit is not removable like a peach or avocado. You cut the flesh from around the pit. Here's how: Holding the mango with the stem end up on a cutting board. Slice one of the fat sides of the mango off with sharp knife starting about ½ inch off the stem center. Do the same to the other side. If you meet resistance, you have hit the pit, and move the knife a little further over to the side. You can get a little more flesh off, by slicing the sides of the pit (but not too much, the pit is large). The next step is to remove the skin from the mango, which can be sliced off easily with a sharp knife. The average mango will yield about 1 cup of chopped fruit.
Here are a few easy ideas to add mangoes in your meals:
1. Ditch the standard green salad for an evening, and serve up a taste of the tropics. Toss mango, papaya, pineapple and bananas in a bowl. Garnish with chopped mint and lime wedges.
2. An impressive, effortless salad. Add chopped mango and cooked shrimp or crab with salad greens. Toss with any vinaigrette. Garnish with chopped red pepper and green onions.
3. A taste of Southeast Asian tradition. Add mango chunks to any curry dish. The sweetness of the mango mellows the spice of the curry- it's a terrific combination. Add mango 4-5 minutes before cooking is completed.
4. Mango salsa is quick and easy. 1 chopped mango, ½ cup chopped tomatoes, ¼ cup chopped sweet onion, ¼ cup chopped cilantro, 1 chopped jalepeno (optional), 1 Tbsp lime juice and 1 Tbsp olive oil. Mix well. Let marninate in the refrigerator 1-2 hours. Serve with chips.
5. Grilled or broiled fish and mangoes are a natural together. Serve mango chunks plain as a side dish or to the fish with the above mango salsa recipe.
6. BBQ skewers of tofu, basting them with a spicy BBQ sauce, serve on a bed of mango, chopped onion, chopped cilantro and lime juice.
7. Mangoes can replace apples in any tart recipe. For quick and easy tart that looks like you spent the day in the kitchen, roll out a sheet of puff pastry. Place the pastry on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Sprinkle the pastry with a mixture of 1-2 Tbsp sugar and ½-1 tsp. ground ginger, lay thin slices of mango over the ginger sugar, leaving 1 inch around the entire edge of the pastry. Bake at 400 until golden brown (20-30 minutes). Drizzle lightly with honey (adds a pretty shine).
Avocado Mango Salad
1 avocado, cubed
1/2 mango, cubed
1 graham cracker, crushed
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Prepare dressing: In small bowl, whisk all ingredients together.
Salad: Arrange avocado and mango cubes on a plate or bowl. Drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs. Serve.
About the author: Cheryl Tallman is the co-founder of Fresh Baby, creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit, and author of the So Easy Baby Food and the new book So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips and Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years. Visit Cheryl online at www.FreshBaby.com for more delicious tips.