My daughter, Valentine, fell in love with mango the second she had her first bite of the creamy orange flesh when she was 2, and she dutifully repeated back the name of this wonderful fruit. In fact, she loved mango so much that she started to use the word “mango” as a descriptor to mean “delicious.” For years, after eating anything she particularly loved, she called it “mango,” with her sweet, deliberate toddler pronunciation.
I agree with Valentine. I love all fresh fruit, but the unique taste of mango reminds me of my childhood when we would travel to Mexico to visit friends and eat mangos around the clock.
This summer fruit is jammed with vitamin C (one mango has almost a full day’s recommended supply), and also provides a host of other vitamins. Like other fruits, though, mango gets its great flavor from sugar. Yes, they are natural sugars, and the natural fiber keeps my kids from eating the quantity of mango that they’d probably down if they were drinking, say, just the juice.
Still, we want to be mindful of the fact that 1 cup of ripe mango can have 20 to 25 grams of sugar.
While my whole family most often eats mango simply sliced or sucking straight off the pit, I love the way mango’s sweetness balances out spicy dishes. In this mango gazpacho, I swap mangos for the usual tomatoes, and stretch the sugars by bulking up the soup with refreshing cucumber. For punches of flavor, I add some heat from pepper flakes and red curry powder.
It’s a perfect chilled summer soup. Serve in small Mason jars for a fun picnic, or even in tiny espresso or shot glasses as soup shooters for a crowd.
CHILLED MANGO GAZPACHO
Start to finish: 10 minutes, plus chilling
3 mangos, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped (about 3 cups flesh)
1½ English cucumbers, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
1 red bell pepper, halved, cored and chopped
1 cup light coconut milk
½ cup vegetable broth
¾-inch chunk fresh ginger
1 to 2 teaspoons red curry powder, to taste (optional)
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, plus extra
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
In a blender, combine 1 cup of the mango, ½ of the cucumber, ½ of the bell pepper, coconut milk, vegetable broth, ginger, curry powder, pepper flakes and cider vinegar. Puree until smooth, about 1 full minute. Add the remaining mango, cucumber, bell pepper and 2 tablespoons of mint. Pulse several times to just finely chop, but not puree.
Refrigerate, covered, for at least 2 hours. Stir well before serving, then ladle into canning jars and sprinkle additional mint over the top.
PER SERVING: 100 calories; 25 calories from fat (25 percent of total calories); 2.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 110 mg sodium; 18 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 14 g sugar; 2 g protein.
Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook, “Supermarket Healthy.” http://www.melissadarabian.net.