Well the holidays have come and gone and it’s time to begin the New Year with a renewed commitment to eat more fruits and vegetables; which isn’t always easy when the weather turns cold, is it? It gets harder for you to get excited about veggies the same way you do in the summer when the produce department is brimming with Melissa’s organic corn, tomatoes, and green beans. I know, you’re thinking, "Produce, exciting?", what is he talking about? Just because January has you wishing for warmer weather and looking for some excitement in your daily routine, it doesn’t make you unique. Most folks around the country are thinking the same thing. I say, don’t let yourself fall into a winter rut, your produce department and its many choices of Melissa’s fine produce can be so delightful if you look at it with a different set of eyes and are open to what is being offered. And let’s get serious, in reality that tropical vacation to some exotic location with swaying palms and warm blue water is probably not in many of our budgets right after the holidays anyway. So do the next best thing and head to your produce department and load up on an array of Melissa’s tropical delights. If the weather has been kind to the southern hemisphere you will be greeted with all sorts of tropical treats such as pineapples, mangoes, bananas, ginger, and on and on. If your body can’t leave the country, there is no reason why you can’t take your mouth on a vacation! Sound good?
Then, let Melissa’s and your produce manager be your vacation planner. We’ve got organic bananas, juicy mangoes, and ripe pineapple along with all of your other winter produce favorites, like organic tangelos. You know, the large, bright orange and somewhat bell-shaped globes that are as different in taste as they are in shape from other tangerines you’ve enjoyed this winter. If you haven’t had them, here’s why you’ll love them. They are seedless and have just the right balance of sweet and acid. What makes them this way? Call it good parenting, as they get their unique taste from a cross between a grapefruit and a Dancy tangerine. These don’t really fall into the tropical category, but they are great vacation food, so why not bring them along? They are great alone or can add that perfect touch of citrus to accompany some Mango and Banana Spring Rolls. I adapted this recipe from www.recipezaar.com
Mango and Banana Spring Rolls
4 cups vegetable oil, for frying
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large mango, ripe but firm
1 large banana, ripe but firm
½ cup sweetened coconut, shredded
1/3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 dashes ground ginger
12 spring roll wrappers
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Icing sugar for dusting
1 cup mango purée (see below)
Pour enough oil into a medium-sized deep frying pan to reach at least 2 inches in depth, but no more than one-third up the side of pan. Place 1/3 cup granulated sugar in a shallow dish. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Peel mango and slice fruit from pit. Slice flesh into matchstick-size pieces. Place in a medium-size bowl. Peel banana and slice into matchstick-size pieces.
Place in a separate bowl. Add 1/4 cup coconut and 1 tablespoon each of granulated and brown sugar to each filling. Stir ginger into mango filling; add to your taste. Place 6 spring roll wrappers on a counter. Cover remaining with a damp cloth. Dividing mixture equally, spoon mango filling onto 1 top corner of each wrapper. Tightly roll corner toward center to partially enclose filling. Once you reach center, fold in sides to cover filling.
Tightly roll wrapper to form a small log. Seal seams, by brush with egg white. Repeat with banana filling for other 6 wrappers. To fry spring rolls, place pan with oil over medium-high heat and heat to 350ºF (180ºC). Carefully slip 2 to 3 rolls into hot oil. Don’t overcrowd. Fry, turning once or twice until golden brown, from 2 to 3 minutes. Once browned, immediately remove rolls to lined sheet. Blot dry, then immediately roll in granulated sugar until lightly coated. Place on a tray. Repeat with other rolls. To serve, place rolls on a plate, Sift a little icing sugar over the top. Drizzle mango purée around rolls. Optional -Add a scoop of coconut or ginger ice cream and a few slices of tangelo.
Purée pulp of 1 mango in a food processor with 1/4 cup water. Add lime juice or sugar to taste. If too thick, thin with water. Don’t these sound great!?
Now lets get this vacation started! Do you have any of those little umbrella toothpicks around the house? No? Then pick some up to stick in the fruit and get you in the mood. I guess since you’re on vacation you could just eat these delicious spring rolls with your fingers. Now that’s really fun. Light a big fire, and slip into your favorite Hawaiian shirt or sarong. Now cube the mango, cut up the pineapple, peel the banana and put them on a festive plate on a table near the hearth. As you feel your tensions start to melt away, grab a piece of tropical delight and let it’s sweetness and firm, yet subtle texture take you far, far away. Bon voyage!