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Simple Sides: Sapūrana™ Mango Bean Salad

By Dennis Linden
Image of Mango & Red Kidney Bean Salad
Children in this country consume an estimated 12 percent of their calories from fast food, and 20 percent of all American meals are eaten in the car! The consequences are predictably unhealthy. Competing schedules in the day-to-day lives of a busy modern family make it difficult to share a home-cooked meal, but not impossible. In fact, with a little planning, cooking together can become a fun family event and learning opportunity. This feature will focus on providing a child or a group of children, working together under an adult's supervision, with one uncomplicated, healthy and delicious side dish recipe. The dishes will be centered on seasonal fresh produce items; the recipes will always contain tasks that will allow even the youngest kitchen helper to contribute to the family meal. Parents should read through each recipe carefully to judge the division of labor based on age and ability and identify where adult attention might be especially needed.
Image of Cookin with the Kids
Many of the recipes presented here will seem very basic; this is by design. It is hoped that these simple preparations will provide the culinary foundation and confidence to inspire kids to try more challenging recipes as their experience and confidence in the kitchen develops. Melissa's encourages parents to find the time to gather as a family unit at least once a week for a dinner that everyone pitches in to prepare. It's a wonderful way to teach a child basic culinary skills, and, more importantly, cooking with your children will build memories in all of your hearts forever. "No one is born a great cook; one learns by doing" – Julia Child.

Here's a very tasty, healthy and easy to prepare salad-type side that pairs two of Melissa's most popular items that are seldom seen together in the same dish – and there is no cooking involved! Melissa's Steamed Red Kidney Beans are combined with a couple of beautifully pre-ripened mangos from the company's Sapūrana™ Mango line, as well as a few staple fresh items for flavor support. Spring is in the air; the kids can prepare this as a side dish for grilled chicken with plenty left over for a standalone filling lunch the next day, and this dish seems to improve in flavor with an overnight chill!

Melissa's pre-conditioned Sapūrana™ Mango takes the guesswork out of choosing the perfectly ripe mango, especially when the retail selection can vary from dead green to beyond overripe choices. The process is similar to one developed for ripening bananas and avocados by tweaking the temperature and oxygen content in a storage room. What it took behind the scenes to make this recipe underscores the need for such a mango. That is, the mangos pictured and used in this recipe are not Sapūrana™ but rather picked randomly off a display at my local grocer's. I chose two big fat mangos that appeared to be half-ripe, with lots of green but had beautiful red blushes developing. While these mangos ripened, I busied myself with the other two blog recipes I write for this site. EIGHTEEN days later, those two mangos were ripe enough to use finally! While experiencing a growth in popularity in this country, mangos are still considered an "impulse buy" by retailers. An impulse buy that takes 18 days to enjoy?! Good luck with that – look for the Sapūrana™ sticker on Melissa's fruit for ready-to-eat assurance!

BTW, chopping up a mango is easier than it looks, but it does take some adult supervision for your young sous chef. Cut the mango in half lengthwise, remove the thin pit, and make several slices down each half without removing the skin, first lengthwise then crosswise. Then, turn the fruit inside out (as depicted in Step 1). The pieces can then be separated from the skin with a knife and rough chopped.

Come to think of it, speaking of impulse buys, the other main component in the tasty recipe is Melissa's Steamed Red Kidney Beans. I love beans, though they take a bit of pre-planning, i.e., soaking for 24 hours. Being a fresh produce professional, I eat nothing that comes in a can that I could not cook. Still, I cannot count the number of times I have picked up a package of dried beans at the grocers on impulse. I fully intend to go home immediately and start the soaking process, but the bag of beans usually sits in my pantry for weeks before I get around to it. Your helpers will have plenty of soaking opportunities in the years to come; right now, it's all about piquing their interest in the culinary arts. Besides, these red kidney beans can be used right out of the box. Melissa's also offers several other legumes; Black-eyed Peas, Lentils, Chickpeas and 6-Bean Medley, all pre-cooked and no can opener required!

This is a really simple recipe. With some knife experience, your oldest helper can practice on the mango, onion, avocado and tomatillo; no precision required, just bite-sized pieces. A younger child can be tasked with "chopping" the cilantro with a pair of kitchen shears, as well as measuring out the few other ingredients. Everything ends up in one large salad bowl and is probably served out of that same bowl for at least a few meals! Enjoy!

Mango & Red Kidney Bean Salad
Serves 6
Image of Ingredients for Mango & Red Kidney Bean Salad

2 Sapūrana™ Mangos, chopped
1 large Avocado, chopped
3 Tomatillos, chopped
½ Red Onion, chopped
¼ cup Cilantro leaves and stems, roughly chopped [for blender]
1 Lime, juiced and zested
1 teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoon Black Pepper
1/3 cup Olive Oil
2 packages Melissa's Steamed Kidney Beans
Cilantro, for garnish

What the kids can do:
Image of Step 1
Step 1: Have the kids start by carefully dicing the mango, avocado, tomatillos and red onion—also, rough chop and measure out the cilantro for the blender.
Image of Step 2
Step 2: In a blender or food processor, combine the lime zest and juice, salt, pepper, olive oil and cilantro to make the dressing.
Image of Step 3
Step 3: Place the mangos, avocado, tomatillos and red onion into a salad bowl. Add in Melissa's Steamed Red Kidney Beans right from the packages. Toss gently to blend. Lastly, pour dressing over salad ingredients and toss to coat. Let the salad sit for 15 minutes to allow flavors to meld together.

What the supervising adult should do:

Closely supervise the chopping necessary, as well as oversee your helpers in CLEANING the blender after use. Serve on small plates and garnish with chopped cilantro.
Image of Mango & Red Kidney Bean Salad
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