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Salad Dressing Series -- Mango Vinaigrette

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Some time ago I wrote about how to make a basic vinaigrette. It's easy to make, delicious, and costs far less than the salad dressings you can buy at the grocery store. Better still, you can make a big batch and have it on hand for a quick week-night salad.

A few weeks ago a friend gave me a few mangoes. They were the little yellow jobs called 'Ataulfos' that are sweet and bright and typically appear in abundance around this time of year. I cut a couple of them open and stood over the kitchen sink, reveling in the tropical memories they evoked as the juice dripped down my arms.

The most efficient way to peel a mango is to stand it up on end and slice it from pole to pole around the lenticular-shaped pit. You can then crosshatch the fruit and bend the peel back to stand the lovely little cubes up on end. If you try to use a peeler or, worse, a knife to remove the outer skin, you're likely to start cursing the fruit gods as the slippery little nugget darts around your cutting board like a pinball. Far better to cut first and pop the exposed pieces out with your knife -- or your teeth!

Mangoes, in my opinion, are just about the most delicious fruit on the planet and so, when few days later I noticed the skin beginning to wrinkle on the 2 that remained from my wonderful gift, I decided to use them to make a dressing. I tossed all the pieces of mango from those 2 little fruits -- about 1-1/2 cups -- into the food processor along with a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and turned the machine on to form a mango paste. With the machine still running, I poured in 1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar, a tablespoon of lime juice, a pinch of salt and 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. From start to finish it took me about 5 minutes, and the result was enticing and addictive. Happily, I had enough to last me for several meals.

On the first night I tossed it with some cooked shrimp and served them over a bed of greens that had been lightly 'kissed' with the mango dressing. The plates came back clean. On the second night I tossed it in a diced avocado, some cucumber and a few radishes and loved the flavor and texture contrasts. The empty salad bowl stared up at us balefully. And on the third night, when the jar would only yield enough for one more meal, I added a little fresh mint to it before drizzling it over some fresh baby spinach and toasted sliced almonds. Everyone at the dinner table had seconds, and lamented the lack of thirds.

The next time you have any fruit that is beginning to look too tired to eat on its own remember this:

Two mangoes. Five minutes. Three heavenly meals. And I swear it couldn't be easier!

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