The Mighty Mango

I freakin’ love mangoes.
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A good mango is one of the sweetest, creamiest things there is to eat. Period. A bad one is…bad.  Mealy, stringy, too flavorless or too tart, any or all of the above.  Fortunately I have long since learned the art of picking out a good mango. There is no science to this, just my own personal experience.  First, the color of the skin matters less than you’d think.  I used to think I wanted ones that were more red, or had a nice balance or red and green, but my experience has been that even mangoes with a uniform green or slightly yellow color to the skin can be good.  Second, the fruit should be relatively firm; not rock-hard, but definitely not soft.  Third, and most importantly, the smell of the mango should be, well, mango-ey.  Test the smell by inhaling near the stem end.  You can’t miss that sweet, citrusy mango smell.  If you don’t pick up on it, then you have a crappy mango.

My new job is conveniently located in a shopping complex that includes a Stop & Shop (as well as an A.C. Moore, an Applebee’s, and a liquor store, because why not?).  S&S recently has had crazy insane sales on mangoes so I’ve been stocking up bigtime.  Obviously many have been enjoyed as is, for breakfast or a snack, but I have also turned out some stellar recipes with them.

First is Mango BBQ Baked Beans, from Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.  This is the first recipe that really jumped out at me when I got this book a couple of weeks ago.
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Served with Jerk Asparagus, also from AFRIt was even better than I had hoped!  Sweet, smoky, complex barbecue flavor in a hearty, warming dish perfect for a winter evening (though I can also envision it as a kickass addition to a summer barbecue!).  H loved it.  He has added it to the list of vegan meals he will eat “anytime.”   As an additional matter, I know I am totally late to the party on AFR but better late than never, right?  This book is SO awesome.  I have like 56 stickies indicating the other recipes that I can’t wait to make.

Another gem from Ms. Moskowitz is Mango Fried Rice from her blog, Post Punk Kitchen.  Click through for the recipe.
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I ate mine with Asian Baked Tofu from Veganomicon (my go-to baked tofu, in case anyone was wondering).
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I also separately cooked up a little bit of chicken for the man (tofu remains on the Do Not Call list for my H) and was shocked when he told me he actually preferred the rice as it was, without the addition of meat!
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This incredible recipe does require a little extra work in the kitchen (the rice has to be cold before being added to the skillet, for example), but the beautiful, exotic and flavorful results are worth it!  It’s also easy enough to cook rice the day before and refrigerate until you are ready to use it.
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Bonus: makes lots of leftovers for next-day lunch!

Now to be truthful, I actually made this many months ago but never got around to posting the pics until now.  But the recent bumper crop of mangoes has me thinking of whipping some up again this week…

So, I am currently training for a relay race in May, and the combination of Sunday cross-training and Monday running had me feeling super-sore, so yesterday was a rest day.  With my amazing new job getting me home around 5:30 every night, and no gym time scheduled, I realized that I’d have extra time to spend in the kitchen.  And so, last night I went for broke and attempted the Mango Masala Panini from Chloe’s Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli.

When I say “went for broke” what I really mean is that I chose a recipe that has multiple components that I knew would take me a significant amount of time to prepare.  Basically, making this Panini recipe requires making three mini-recipes: Mango Tamarind Chutney, Cauliflower Curry, and Chickpea Masala.
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Three bowls, Three Recipes (sorry for the dark [and, actually, kinda gross] picture)

While the final result was undeniably tasty, I would be remiss if I didn’t let you know that it took me a total of 2.5 hours to get it all done, and by the time it was over, I was too tired to flatten it into a “panini” using my grill pan and a weight, so I just toasted the ciabatta and ate it that way.
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When I say “ate it that way” what I really mean is I cut it in half and then opened each half up, leaving me with four open-faced “sandwiches”, because it was way too messy otherwise.

To be fair, part of the reason that it took so long to get this together is that I was washing dishes before, during, and after cooking.  Starting with a clean kitchen obviously would speed the process.  But even so, the food processor is required for all three of the mini-recipes and needs to be cleaned in between.  Let’s just say I cleaned A LOT of dishes last night.  And actually, since I’m big on honesty, I will admit that I used my immersion blender for the Chana Masala.  I just couldn’t clean that processor again.

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Mango Tamarind Chutney
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Cauliflower Curry
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Chana Masala

Final verdict: I liked this recipe, and I liked all of the components.  I am not sure that the final result is worth the aggregate time/effort, but if in the future I had time to do some ahead-of-time/day-before prep, I would make it again.  Plus, there is now a ton of leftovers in my fridge, which I always welcome during the work week.  I am even thinking about making the leftover Cauliflower Curry into samosas tomorrow, using another recipe from Chloe’s Kitchen.

Anyone else have any great recipes that use mangoes?