Need a secret weapon against food boredom? Looking for a simple, foolproof ingredient to add an element of surprise to your next meal? Look to mangoes to makeover dishes with naturally sweet, tropical flavor.
Mango’s versatile taste enhances any meal, like on-the-go breakfasts, brown-bag lunches, after-school snacks and family dinners. They pair well with other flavors, transforming meals and snacks with fresh flavor that brightens your plate and your taste buds.
If you are trying to maintain a fresh and fit lifestyle, mangos deliver a host of nutrients to make healthy eating more delicious. They are high in fiber, cholesterol-free, fat-free, and a good source of dietary fiber. A one-cup serving of mangos is just 100 calories and provides 100 percent of your daily vitamin C. That’s not all: Mangos live up to their superfruit status with more than 20 vitamins and minerals.
A few simple tips when selecting a mango will make this healthy fruit a weekly staple on your grocery list. To find a ripe mango, just squeeze gently. Color isn’t always the best indicator of ripeness. A ripe mango will be slightly soft like a peach or avocado. Keep unripe mangos at room temperature and store ripe mangos in the refrigerator. To speed up the ripening process, place unripe mangos in a paper bag. Whole ripe mangos may be stored for up to five days in the refrigerator, or can be sliced, cubed and placed in an airtight container in the freezer for up to six months.
Once you have a ripe mango, wash the fruit and use a clean knife and cutting board for slicing. Simply slice off the sides of the fruit about a quarter of an inch off center, avoiding the large seed in the center. Once you have these two sides, or mango cheeks, you can get to the flesh by slicing through the flesh but not through the skin and scooping it out with a spoon.
Once cut, mangos don’t lose their color, and the texture holds up extremely well, making them a great prep-ahead fruit. Keep slices on hand to upgrade everyday staples like mango on cereal or oatmeal, quesadillas with mango, mango and ice cream, or yogurt topped with mango.
Since mangos are available year-round, they are a perfect addition to everyday favorites, family staples and tried-and-true recipes. The fresh taste of mango is a fun departure from tropical fruits such as banana or pineapple. Kick up the flavor in everyday meals like toast topped with almost butter and mango or gooey-sweet Mango Upside-Down Cake. Adding mango is also a great way to upgrade in-season produce year-round, from mango-strawberry shortcake and mango and peach crisp to mango-cranberry sauce and mango and yams with toasted marshmallows.
Mango’s flavor is bright and sweet with a little tang, so try it in dishes where you might use a tomato, like mango salsa, Caprese salad with mango, fresh mozzarella and basil or a mixed green salad. Also, don’t be afraid to try mango on the grill, baked in sweets or sprinkled with sugar and put under the broiler.
For a simple lunchtime makeover, add fresh mango slices to a classic sandwich like Grilled Ham and Cheese with Mango. Tropical mango makes a sweet addition to this traditional dish with an unexpected pop of flavor and color.
What do you call it when mangos create a tropical transformation? A Mangover, of course.
Grilled Ham and Cheese with Mango
2 Tbsp. softened butter (“Mom” prefers organic)
2 slices whole wheat bread
2 slices Monterey Jack cheese (“Mom” prefers Applegate Farms)
4 slices deli ham (“Mom” prefers Applegate Farms)
1 mango (about 1 pound), peeled, pitted and sliced
Spread 1 tablespoon butter on one side of each piece of bread. On first slice of bread, place 1 slice cheese, ham and mango on unbuttered side of bread. Top with remaining slice of cheese and second piece of bread, buttered side up. Heat small, nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Place sandwich in skillet and cook until golden brown and cheese is melted, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
Makes 1 sandwich.
For more mango recipe ideas, cutting technique details, and additional information about mangos, visit the National Mango Board at www.mango.org.