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Fruit of the Month: Mangoes

Posted by Emma on: May 30, 2011

whole mangoes farmers market
 - Costa Rica

Costa Rican mangoes are rich and juicy – like biting into a velvety fruit covered in mild honey sauce. Native to India, these tropical delights are in season year-round, so you can enjoy them any time!

In Costa Rica the large mango fruits are known as mangas, while their smaller counterparts are called mangoes. Mangas are the most familiar variety – oblong, about the size of a softball, and with smooth flesh – while mangoes are smaller than a baseball and have a slightly stringy fruit. Both are common throughout the country, and almost every yard is home to at least one mango tree.

Thanks to their popularity and prevalence, mangas and mangoes are some of the least expensive fruits at your farmers’ market – during high season, they sell for as little as 25 cents per pound! You’ll know they’re ripe when the flesh has a little give and strong mango scent wafts off the skin. Grab a bunch and take them home; mangoes make a lovely juice or cool snack. Unripe mangoes are a favorite treat– sliced up and served with a lime wedge and salt, this crunchy snack is low in calories and high in flavor.

Mangoes also deliver healthy servings of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. One of the world’s best sources of astragalin, betacarotene, and quercetin, these fruits also contain large quantities of vitamin C, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin E and fiber, as well as smaller portions of vitamin K, magnesium and phosphorus.

There are several ways to cut the fruit, but my favorite is to slice a mango length-wise – skin on – into three sections. Set aside the center section, which holds the pit, and score the two outer sections length and width-wise until each is cubed. Turn the skin inside out, and your perfect mango cubes will fall into the bowl. To ripen a mango, put it in a paper bag at room temperature until ready; you can store ripe mangoes in the refrigerator up to five days.

Manga Salsa

1 large ripe manga, peeled, pitted and cubed
1 bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
3-4 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (optional)

Combine the manga, bell pepper, red onion, cilantro, and jalapeno pepper in a bowl. Add the citrus juice and stir to mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate.

Tilapia with Manga Salsa

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice to taste
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 6-ounce tilapia fillets

In a bowl whisk together extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, cilantro, garlic, pepper, and salt. Pour into a resealable plastic bag and add the tilapia fillets. Shake to coat fish, squeeze out excess air, seal the bag, and marinated for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat an outdoor grill, preferably charcoal, for medium-high heat and oil grill lightly. Alternatively, preheat an indoor grill or grill pan for the stove, and oil lightly.

Remove the tilapia from the marinade, shaking off excess. This marinade may not be used to add additional flavoring to the fillets after cooking. Grill the tilapia until cooked through (when the fish flakes easily with a fork), approximately 3-4 minutes per side. Serve topped with mango salsa.

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