There are times in midwinter when I simply crave the glorious light, the warm breeze, the blue skies and the exotic flavors of my little birth island. I am a tropical creature who has adapted the best she can to the endless frigid months of the northeastern United Sates, but there are days that are very hard to bear.
Luckily, summer is in full swing on the other side of the globe, and the fruits and veggies that abound there at this time of the year make a welcome appearance on our market shelves.
So when I see ripe avocados and mangoes piled high at my local grocery store, I am relieved and happy for the little bit of sunshine they bring with them!
And then I let that sun shine right through the dishes I prepare with them, like this simple but flavorful salad. The avocado and mango slices are tucked in a delicious hug, while the arugula provides a crunchy, spicy bed. The tequila-lime vinaigrette begs to be drizzled over the whole thing and the crispy tortilla strips add a touch of playfulness — a little something your teeth will be happy to wrestle with.
This salad never fails to chase my winter blues away!
Food & wine pairing: Austria, Gewürztraminer with avocado and mango salad
A white wine with citrus and tropical notes is de rigueur here. Look for a Gewürztraminer from Austria or a Sauvignon Blanc from a warmer region, like Martinborough in New Zealand’s North Island.
Avocado and mango salad with tequila-lime vinaigrette
active time: 25 min
For the vinaigrette
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lime zest (use a microplane grater)
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest (use a microplane grater)
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon reposado tequila
- 1 tablespoon aged sherry vinegar
- 3 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
For the tortilla strips
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large flour tortilla – cut in 1/8″ x 2″ strips
- large pinch sea salt
For the salad
- 2 bunches arugula – root ends trimmed, rinsed and spun dry
- 1 firm, ripe avocado – peeled and cut in 1/8″ slices
- 1 large, ripe mango – peeled, cheeks cut in 1/8″ slices
- Step 1: To make the vinaigrette – Place the zests, juice, tequila, vinegar, oil, Tabasco and salt in a small bowl and whisk until well blended. Set aside.
- Step 2: To make the tortilla strips – Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and the tortilla strips. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until golden on all sides and crispy, tossing from time to time. Remove from heat, transfer to a plate, sprinkle with salt and cool to room temperature.
- Cook’s note: Once cooled, the tortilla strips can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- Step 3: To serve – Place a few leaves of arugula in the center of each plate. Drizzle with half the vinaigrette. Top with slices of avocado and mangoes, alternating them and slightly overlapping the slices. Drizzle with the balance of the vinaigrette. Garnish with the tortilla strips and serve immediately.