Mango with Cilantro, Coconut, and Chile Powder
Serves 6–8

Here’s a cool salad for a sizzling summer! It’s as hot as Hades here in the Sacramento Valley: Yesterday it was 108 degrees. Today it’s 102. Yikes! But no matter where you are, you’ll love this refreshing salad that’s super easy to make, especially when it’s hot and you don’t feel like cooking.

When we think of Mexican salads, we tend to think of traditional dishes such as tostadas, taco salads, and pico de gallo. But the main purpose of this blog is to publish Latin recipes that are off the beaten path. This recipe is from Saveur, the culinary magazine that is an excellent source of contemporary, cutting edge Latin recipes.

I suppose it’s human nature to cling to what’s safe and familiar. But you might miss out on things you might enjoy! My stepmother was from Zacatecas, Mexico, and so my dad got more than the average person’s exposure to Mexican cuisine. We lived in L.A. and one night we were at Barragan’s, one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. I ordered one of the usual suspects – a tostada, taco or something. Mexican food is more than that, my dad said, try something different, like arroz con pollo (chicken with rice). I did. It was terrific. So try this mango salad! It could become one of your go-to summer recipes.

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3 ripe mangos
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon chile powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup packed cilantro leaves
1/3 cup shaved unsweetened coconut

Peel mangos and cut fruit into cubes. Arrange on a platter and drizzle with lime juice, coconut, cilantro and chile powder. Serve.

 

Watercress Salad with Cilantro Dressing
Serves 4

One of the purposes of this blog is to expand the idea of what Latin food is and can be. And so I go to the public library to research recipes. As I said in a previous blog post, recipes in little-known cookbooks don’t always work. On the other hand, when they don’t work, there is a lot of opportunity to be creative and improve them. If you have the time and the patience, this is one way to invent your own recipes.

We associate watercress with sandwiches at English high tea, but it is a common salad green in Mexico. This recipe originally came from Simply Mexican by Lourdes Castro. But the “dressing” was a kind of pesto that was way too thick to put over a salad. My husband and I ended up eating it on spaghetti. And so back to the drawing board tinkering with cilantro dressing recipes until one came out right. Then I added orange slices and pine nuts for garnish. Hope you like it! Thanks for visiting my blog!

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The Dressing
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

The Salad
2 bunches watercress
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
1/4 cup queso fresco or to taste
4 orange slices

Whisk the vinegar, salt and pepper, garlic, cilantro and olive oil in a bowl. Set aside.

To toast the nuts, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, place the nuts on a baking sheet, and toast for about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

Remove watercress leaves from the thick stems and rinse. Pat the leaves dry gently so not to bruise or crush them.

Place watercress on 4 salad plates, pour dressing on and top with queso fresco and pine nuts. Cut orange slices into quarters and place them at the edges of each salad, two at the bottom of the plate, and two at the top.