This month, the mangoes are literally falling off the trees. If you want them at their prime, you have to pick them before that happens and let them ripen a few days or more on your kitchen counter. Or, purchase them at the supermarket where the Florida fruit is presently 10 for $10. It’s a buck apiece for a delicious, healthful fruit that can be used in so many different ways — some of them stunningly simple.
Nothing demonstrates that point better than mango salsa. Colorful, beautiful and tasty, it is a classic accompaniment for simple grilled or poached salmon. It is also excellent with other grilled fish, chicken and London broil and is a delightful condiment for spicy dishes from all manner of cuisines, especially Mexican. It is great as a side dish at a hamburger-and-hot-dogs cookout. You can also serve it as a dip with pita or other chips of your choice.
So delicious is the mango, that its health advantages are often overlooked. It is rich in vitamins (A, B1, B2, B6 and C) and a good source of potassium and beta carotene, high in fiber but low in calories (110 per average-sized fruit), fat (1 gram) and sodium (2 mg). Mangoes contain an enzyme with stomach-soothing properties similar to the papain of papayas; it acts as a digestive aid and contributes to the feeling of contentment that many experience after eating the fruit.
Mind your mango manners …
Discovering a laden mango tree in your neighborhood leads to temptation. Before you help yourself even to the groundfall fruit, ring the bell and ask if it is OK to do so. Most tree parents are glad to share when asked but justifiably riled when fruit is taken without permission.
Yield: 2 3/4 cups
2 cups chopped, pitted and peeled mango (about two medium mangos)
1 cup chopped red bell pepper (about one medium)
2/3 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and season lightly with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Salsa can be made six hours in advance. Store covered in the refrigerator. It will keep for a day or two, but it is best eaten shortly after being assembled.
• Add a small jalapeno chili, seeded and finely minced.
• Substitute red onion for the green onions or use a mixture of the two.
• Substitute seeded and chopped tomato for the red pepper.
• Parsley or mint can be used instead of cilantro for a significantly different flavor.
• Add one small cucumber peeled, seeded and diced (about one cup).
• Leave out the oil.