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March, 2011

Tale of Two Seasons

By Mark Mulcahy

Even though it seems like Melissa’s organic mangos have one long season, it is really divided into two seasons—one in the spring/summer and one in the fall/winter
.

Because the two seasons overlap, we are able to enjoy a year-round supply. I love the spring season because of the abundance (close to 70 percent of the total mango volume is sent to the United States in the spring and summer) and it offers two of my favorite mangos, the Ataulfo and the Haden.

Organic Ataulfo Mangos
Spring brings Organic Ataulfo Mangos (although this year we had a nice surprise with an early January start). I love everything about these vibrant yellow-gold beauties. From their small, flattened oval shape (they sort of remind me of little baby chicks), to their smooth, firm, abundant, non-stringy flesh; the Ataulfos have a very small seed, so there is a high flesh-to-seed ratio, which means you get more of the nice mango flavor, topped off with refreshing citrus overtones. Ataulfos usually start in March and run through early summer so once you try them you can enjoy them for a while. To choose the perfect Ataulfo, wait until it turns a deep golden color and small wrinkles appear, then place it in the palm of your hand and give it a slight squeeze. If it yields to gentle pressure it’s ready to enjoy.

My other favorite starts in this month and is called Haden. This one you’ll have to enjoy now, as it is only around through May. How do I love thee, Haden? Let me count the ways! Let’s start with your firm flesh, ovalish round shape and deep rich flavor, one that delights my taste buds. Your wonderful aromatic scent draws me closer with each bite. Your multicolored skin of bright red with green and yellow is a treat for the eyes. If you are interested in trying this delectable mango, look for one that is more yellow-red than green that yields to gentle pressure with a slight squeeze.

Both of these are great to eat out of hand, or sliced or cubed on whole wheat toast with almond butter. Another way to enjoy them is mixed with spring greens, which are in great abundance now. I love them with Mizuna greens, a mild Japanese green that is great for salads. You’ll recognize them by their jagged, feathery leaves and light green color. You’ve more than likely tried them, as they are a staple in many organic spring mixes.

Here is a nice healthy salad from http://www.epicurious.com to use both mangos and spring greens.

Mixed Green Salad with Mango, Jícama and Cashews

1 large ripe Organic Ataulfo Mango, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons rice vinegar or 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 10-oz. bag mixed baby lettuces
1 cup diced peeled jicama
1/2 cup salted roasted cashews

Combine 1/2 cup mango with next six ingredients in blender. Purée until smooth. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Transfer to small bowl. (Can be made three hours ahead. Cover; let stand at room temperature.)

Combine lettuces, jicama and remaining 1 cup mango in large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Sprinkle with cashews. Serve, passing any remaining dressing separately. If you are not ready for a fresh salad how about a warm mango soup? Check out this one I found at http://www.epicurious.com

Ingredients:
1 shallot - finely chopped
1 piece ginger (approx. 2 cm thick) - finely chopped
7 oz. zucchini, sliced
1 teaspoon curry powder
13.5 oz. vegetable broth
7 oz. mixed vegetables - cut in julienne/thin strips. Organic Carrots, bell peppers (if organic bell peppers are hard to find this will work fine with the other ingredients),leeks, asparagus and celery.

Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons roasted, unsalted peanuts - coarsely chopped
8 oz. of organic mango - cut in cubes
2 tablespoon lime juice
13.5 oz. unsweetened coconut milk Oil for cooking

Method:
In a pot, heat up some oil and sauté the onions, ginger and zucchini slices without allowing them to take on color. Add the curry powder and sauté for a few more minutes. Pour in the vegetable broth. Cover and simmer for approx. 20 minutes.

In the meantime, heat up some oil in a large pan and throw in the vegetable julienne. Allow to cook through, making sure the vegetables are not overcooked but still a bit crunchy. Salt and pepper to taste and keep warm.

Mix the mango, vegetables and nuts together with 1 tablespoon of lime juice.

Back to the soup: Purée the zucchini in the broth. Depending on how thick you like the soup to be, you can either leave it the way it is or strain the soup through a sieve. Place the puréed soup back on the heat and add the coconut milk. Bring to a gentle boil and then add some salt and pepper.

Place the vegetable mango mixture in the middle of soup bowls and then pour the piping hot soup over the top. Warm, tangy, tempting, and full of delicious flavor.