I'm on vacation in Florida this week so naturally my mind turns to light, beach-friendly eats, which is not to say that I haven't indulged in my fair share of Cuban and Peruvian takeout - sweet fried plantains, ceviche, black beans, and fried yucca have all crossed my lips in the last few days and probably will again before I leave. But for the most part, I've been lounging by the pool or on the sand in sweltering heat and craving cool, hydrating snacks. I've had some version of this salad for lunch all week. Sometimes things get weird and I add chickpeas into the mix. And that works for me but you do not have to go there.
Cilantro is a polarizing little plant so if you really can't bear it, substitute a little mint. (A little goes a long way). I have grown to really love cilantro. In fact, this salad is only a vehicle for me to consume mangoes, lime, and cilantro together.
I learned something new about cilantro this week but maybe this is not new to you. At the grocery store the other night, I watched an older lady as she lifted bunch after bunch of the green stuff to her nose breathing deeply each time. Finally, she shook her head and said, "Not bad, not great." She explained to me that you can gauge how fresh the cilantro is by its smell - really fresh cilantro has a strong, gorgeous scent.
Another cilantro tip I picked up in a cooking class recently: no need to remove the stems. With cilantro, a lot of the flavor resides in the stem. This is the complete opposite of parsley where almost all of the flavor is found in the leaves and the stem is virtually tasteless.
This salad is best served chilled. Feel free to leave out the avocado until the very last minute. Then take it outside and eat it in the sun, preferably on a beach.
Mango Cucumber and Avocado Salad w/Honey-Lime Vinaigrette (gf)
1 large cucumber, sliced into 1/2 inch cubes (peeled if not organic)
1 mango, sliced into 1/2 inch cubes
3 medium red plums, sliced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 avocado, cubed
1/2 cup organic cilantro, roughly chopped
1 cup cooked chickpeas (optional)
2 tbsp fresh lime juice (approx. 1 1/2 to 2 limes)
1 1/2 tbsp honey (or other sweetener for a vegan version - see Note)
1 tbsp olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Whisk the vinaigrette ingredients together and season with s&p to taste. Toss the salad ingredients (except for the avocado) with the vinaigrette.
Chill for 30 minutes or until ready to serve. Just before serving, add in the avocado and gently incorporate. Serve cold.
Optional: if you want to get weird and maybe you do, add in 1 cup cooked chickpeas for a more substantial meal.
Notes: For a vegan version, substitute the honey in the dressing with maple syrup, coconut nectar, or brown rice syrup.
I've been watching the waves and listening to this track all week.