Cool Off With Summer Mangos on the Menu

Long a favorite fruit of Southeast Asia, commercial plantings of mangos in Florida and the Coachella Valley of California and imports from Mexico make mangos easier to find in local supermarkets.

When I lived in the Philippines, I had my own mango tree, but I never tasted a ripe mango from it, because the natives of our area liked to eat their mangos green. I gamely tried the exceedingly sour, bitter flesh of the green mango, sprinkled with salt, and deemed it an acquired taste.

The ripe, juicy mango resembles a peach. It's delicious by itself, but it marries beautifully with other fruits in salads, marinades, and salsas. Mangos originated in India and made their way through Asia. Today there are two distinct varieties of mango. The Indian variety is subject to mildew and does not tolerate humidity. The Philippine or Southeast Asian variety tolerates weather extremes and resists mildew. In 1880, mangos of the Philippine variety were planted in Santa Barbara.

In California, mango trees flourish in the foothills, safe from coastal fog and damp. In the tropics, a mango tree will quickly grow to 65 feet. California trees reach 30 feet at maturity, providing shade under a slender canopy. The dark green leaves, with pale undersides, extend 8 to 12 inches. Mangos self-pollinate, so a single tree will produce fruit. In limited spaces, like patio gardens, dwarf mango cultivars thrive in large containers. Armstrong Garden Center spotlighted mango trees for their recent, tropical plant sale.

Americans are eating seven times as many mangos as they did 30 years ago. Mangos are rich in nutrients, fiber and an excellent source of beta-carotene and vitamin C. I suspect that mangos would be even more popular if separating the fruit from the seed was not such a messy operation. If you had a former chef in your kitchen, like my hubby Bob, you wouldn't have to fuss with this part. However, I assume you need to meet this challenge on your own, so I will outline the process, step-by-step

Use a potato peeler to peel the mango. Put the peeled mango flat on a cutting board, steady with one hand, and use a sharp paring knife to score the fruit in a grid pattern. First cut length- wise, deep into the fruit, until you hit the seed. Make several long cuts. Then, cut from side-to- side so that you have a pattern of squares. Next, grip the fruit tightly, insert the knife at the tip, push the knife blade down and outward right next to the seed, cutting away from yourself, to slice the squares off the seed. Turn the mango over and repeat the process on the other side. Finally, cut off the bits and pieces of flesh, clinging to the large, oval, flattish seed. Congratulations, the worst is over.

When purchasing mangos, look for a slight softness in flesh and hues of red and yellow in the skin. Don't refrigerate mangos; keep them in a cool dry dark place and use within a few days of purchase. Try substituting mangos for peaches for recipes in your collection. Mangos pair well with pineapple, papaya, bananas, kiwis, and strawberries. Use them in place of tomatoes in salsa recipes. Mangos like a touch of freshly squeezed lime, too.

Our family went wild over the hot mango sauce that accompanied a barbecue pork recipe I printed a few weeks ago. We've discovered that it peps up broiled salmon steaks, too. If you missed that recipe, write to me for a copy.

Turkey wraps with mango and curried mayonnaise have only 303 calories per serving. They're low-fat with only 2 grams of saturated fat. They're high in protein with 21 grams per serving and provide 7 grams of dietary fiber. If you're not keen on whole-wheat tortillas, spread whole-wheat pita bread with the curried mayonnaise and tuck the other ingredients inside the pita pocket.

Write Lynn Duvall at or in care of the Valley Sun.

Correction: The headline of last week's recipe should have read: Dr. Hangos' Greek Stuffed Grape Leaves. Kathy Connolly's dad, Dr. George Hangos, was a prominent La Cañada physician.

Tropical Fruit Breakfast Medley

1 cup papaya, peeled, seeded, cut in 1/2 inch squares ? 1 cup mango, peeled,

pitted, cut in 1/2 in squares ? 1 banana, sliced ? 2 medium oranges, cut in 1/2 inch segments ? 12 grapes, cut in half ? 12 strawberries, cut in half ? 2 kiwis, peeled and sliced ? 1/2 cup golden seedless raisins ? juice of 1 lime ? fresh mint for garnish

While preparing fruit, arrange cutting board so that juices will drain into a large bowl. Add all the ingredients, except the banana to the juice in the bowl. Sprinkle with lime juice. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Add the bananas just before serving. Serve in glass bowl. Garnish with fresh mint. Serves 4-6. Tip: For a cooling summer dessert, drain juice, and serve in individual goblets. Top with a small scoop of pineapple or raspberry sherbet. Garnish with mint sprig.

Turkey Wraps with Mango and Curried Mayonnaise

2 teaspoons curry powder ? 1/2 cup fat-free or reduced-fat mayonnaise ? 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice ? salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste ? 4 whole-wheat tortillas, each cut in half ? 8 oz. thinly sliced turkey ? 4 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce ? 2 cups thinly sliced, seeded and peeled cucumber ? 1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, chopped ? 1/2 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, cut into 8 thin slices

Heat curry powder, stirring constantly, in small skillet over medium-low heat, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer curry powder to small bowl. Stir in mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill, covered until ready to use.

When ready to serve, place one-half tortilla on work surface. Spread with about 1 tablespoon curried mayonnaise. Place one-fourth of the turkey in the center. Top with 1/2 cup lettuce, 1/4 cup cucumber and 2 tablespoons mango. Top with an avocado slice. Roll up like a burrito. Repeat process for remaining wraps. Can be refrigerated, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap for up to 4 hours. Return to room temperature before serving. Serves 4.

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