Mango Summer Salad

Cook’s Note: I’m not a measuring type of person when it comes to the kitchen so the measurements mentioned in this recipe are all approximate. I also do not claim to be any expert or professional. I’m just a plain ol’ housewife who watches too many cooking shows.

Mangoes, mangoes, mangoes! Both my husband and I are absolute mango lovers and we both miss the Philippine mangoes so much.

No offence to the Aussie mangoes but anyone who has been able to compare the two will agree that the Philippine mangoes are waaay better. (Not to mention you get 1 kilo of mangoes in the Philippines for a dollar!)

a fruit bowl filled with ripe mangoes
Photo by Unsplash

Philippine mangoes are less “hairy” so you get more flesh. Usually the hairy fibres get stuck between your teeth, especially when you’re eating near the seed trying to get every bit of mango pulp you can. Philippine mangoes are much more pleasant to eat, especially if you can get a hold of the Guimaras mangoes.

Guimaras (pronounced “gee-muh-rass”) exclusively exports to countries outside the Philippines. If you want to taste these world class mangoes, you have to go to Guimaras and eat it there. You are not allowed to take any part of the mango outside of Guimaras as they are trying to be an exclusive importer of the “perfect” mangoes.

Anyway, enough with that. What I really wanted to share with everyone is our family’s staple mango season salad dressing.

Every mango season here in Australia, without fail, we make our usual Mango Summer Salad. It only takes 10 minutes. It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, oil-free, and sugar-free. The mango dressing itself only needs 3 to 4 ingredients. The salad component can be pretty much anything you want to put in it, but best to follow the 4 rules below for maximum happiness.

The Salad

Rule 1: Leaves.

You can pretty much put any leafy green you would like as the base at the bottom of your salad bowl. Personally, we prefer a combination of iceberg lettuce for a fresh crunch, baby spinach for body, and any herb for excitement (usually parsley, mint, or coriander). One hand-grab of each.

TIP: By adding herbs, your salad becomes more exciting as opposed to plain old ice-flavoured iceberg lettuce.

Rule 2: Dice.

Now you can add anything and everything you want in your salad. We usually dice up 1 tomato, 1 cucumber, half a capsicum, and 2 celery stalks. You can add onion, corn, chickpeas, etc.

TIP: By dicing your ingredients, you get more variety in one mouthful. Plus, you create more surface area for the dressing to cling on to.

Rule 3: Dried fruit.

Our staple is either sultanas or raisins. Just because it’s so much more available and cheaper than any other dried fruit. Plus, I don’t have to do any chopping to it. A handful will do. You can use dried mangoes to echo the dressing or any other dried fruit.

TIP: By adding dried fruits, you’re adding bursts of sweetness to every bite.

Rule 4: Nuts. (If you’re not allergic)

We always have walnuts on hand so that’s what we use often. Just chop them into roughly the same size as everything else in your salad. We’ve tried cashews and hazelnuts before and they were just as good. Not sure about peanuts though as they’re too strong-flavoured for my liking.

TIP: By adding nuts, not only are you getting proteins but also wonderful texture which adds to the whole experience.

The Dressing

All you need is one mango, salt, and something sour like vinegar or lemon juice. A bit of honey is also a good idea if your mango is not sweet enough. I’ve got a food processor so that’s what I use to bring everything together, but you can just use a mug and a fork to do the job.

Rule 1: The mango.

Get all the mango flesh you can from one fruit. You can either peel all the skin and carve out all the flesh away from the seed, or you can do what I do.

Find the “flattest” part of the mango and starting from the black thingy at the top that used to connect the fruit to the tree (I call it its “belly button”), cut the mango along the flat side as close to the seed as you can all the way until you get one mango cheek. Do the same to the other side.

Then take any drinking glass and use it to scoop out the flesh from the cheeks. If you’re using a food processor or blender, just chuck it in the container. But if you’re doing it by hand, it’s probably more beneficial if you cut the cheeks in a crisscross manner without cutting through the skin and then scoop it all out with a glass.

As for the seed part, that’s a treat for my husband so I just leave that alone.

Here you go, these videos will show you exactly what I’m talking about:

Tip: Use the ripest, most fragrant, squishiest mango you can find. If your mango is not ripe enough or not available, you can either wait a few days for it to ripen or just use the frozen mango cubes. They’re not as great as using the fresh ones, but they will do the job.

Rule 2: The seasoning.

Add some salt (and black pepper if you like) to the mango. We use pink Himalayan salt, about a pinch at the start then adjust accordingly after the first blitz/mix.

Tip: Using salt will enhance the flavours and balance out the sweetness.

Rule 3: The acid.

Add some sort of sourness using any citrus fruit, vinegar, or even tamarind puree. About a tablespoon or so, just enough to feel it but not so it overpowers everything. It is a mango dressing after all, not a lemon one.

Tip: Adding a sour element to the dressing will give it another layer of excitement.

Rule 4: The sweetness.

It is important that you mix all the above ingredients first before you add any more sweetener as your mango might be enough. If your dressing does need more sweetness, the best thing to use is honey or maple syrup, about a teaspoon, or any sort of sugar if honey or maple syrup is not available.

Tip: Using honey or maple syrup adds yet another flavour profile as opposed to the flat sweetness from plain sugar. You can also use golden syrup or other sugar alternatives.

top view of a bowl of salad showing all the ingredients
Photo by MJ Lawson

When people are coming over for a meal, I like to arrange the ingredients like in the photo above for presentation purposes and keep the dressing separate until it is ready to be devoured. Otherwise, I just chuck everything in the bowl already in no particular fashion.

I hope you enjoy making this fresh mango summer salad as much as I do. If you have any questions, feel free to send me a message.