A few weeks ago my editor from the Jewish Press asked that our team submit summer recipes with "lots of fruit." I was put in charge of the main course. What came to mind was fish and mangoes (that recipe at a later date--and worth waiting for!). Since that time, I have been on a real mango roll. Sweet, juicy, and a great taste of summer.
During the development process, I was reminded of a gazpacho my mother always raves about--pineapple gazpacho. I thought, "hmmm....I bet this would be GREAT with mangoes!" It was. I don't know if this recipe is similar to my mom's, but I think it would be just as big a hit. I really couldn't stop eating it.
This cold soup combines flavors we usually don't think of putting together: sweet--mangoes and pineapple, sharp--red onions and garlic, fragrant and strong--cilantro, hot--jalapeno. At first glance it may seem a little scary. Truth be told, this is a dish for a more adventurous palate. But let me assure you the taste is anything but scary. The differing flavors combine to pop in your mouth with a sweet, spicy, sharp kick. I was positively addicted to it. Now, if you don't like hot, leave out the jalapeno. But I warn you, you'll really be missing out on something spectacular!
Before I give you the recipe, let's have a mango Q & A session for a minute.
How do I know when a mango is ripe?
See that color? That's your best case scenario for a ripe mango. Sometimes there is a little less red and more green. That's ok. The best way to really tell if a mango is ripe is from its feel. The fruit should give a little when you squeeze it. If it seems hard, it's under ripe. If it's very soft, it's probably on its way out so you should avoid it.
Can I ripen a mango if it's not ready yet?
Yes. Just put the uncut fruit in a paper bag. This releases a gas which speeds up the ripening process. Check it the next day and see if it's ripe. If not, put it back in the bag and keep checking it each day until it feels right. Remember, you want it to give a little but still be somewhat firm. If it gets too squishy, then you left it in the bag too long.
How on earth do I cut this thing???
I'm sure there are many different opinions and methods. Mangoes are tricky because they have a very large pit in the center. I can tell you how I do it. I think this is the easiest and least messy method I have found so far. Here's what you do:
- Using a paring knife, cut 4 slices in the skin, lengthwise.
- Now cut a line in each one of those quarters, dividing the mango into eighths.
- Gently but firmly, peel the skin off each section of the mango. Discard.
- Look to see where most of the meat is. Cut a large slice of the fruit, very close to the pit. Keep slicing until most of the fruit seems to be off. Be careful because the fruit can get slippery from the juices.
- Cut the slices in cubes. They don't have to be uniform.
Are mangoes good for you, anyway?
Yes! Read this blurb from Dr. Mercola ("What are Mangoes Good For?" www.mercola.com. Here's a link to the whole article: foodfacts.mercola.com/mango.html )
Impressive amounts of vitamin C, vitamin A, and flavonoids like betacarotene, alphacarotene and beta-cryptoxanthin in mangos help provide benefits, such as healthy immune function, normal blood pressure, good vision and strong bones, plus added protection from lung, mouth, colon, breast and prostate cancers, leukemia, ...
Now that we've answered your questions, get ready for a spectacular cold soup just in time for summer!
Mango Pineapple Gazpacho
Yield: 2 cups Keeps 1 week in refrigerator in airtight container.
1 large mango
1 15-oz can crushed pineapple
1/8 red onion
1/3 medium jalapeno
1/4 cup cilantro
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic
Salt to taste
1. Peel and cut the mango as described above. Put in the food processor or blender.
2. Cut the jalapeno and remove the seeds. Set aside.
IMPORTANT: Always wear gloves when working with hot peppers. Do not touch any part of your face until you have removed the gloves.
3. Peel the garlic and onion. Cut onion coarsely. Set aside.
4. Wash and check cilantro in accordance with halacha (Jewish Law--herbs, many vegetables and fruits can be infested with small insects or worms and must be checked. For more information, here's a link to the Star-K, a reputable kosher agency from Baltimore: www.star-k.org/checking ). Cut the stems off and discard.
5. Place all ingredients in the food processor or blender. Grind until somewhat smooth. Eat cold.
Eat. Enjoy. Aaah.....this is the life......