I used to want a mango tree in my backyard. Scrap that.
Now I want a mamey tree.
I ate a lot while I was in Colombia. A lot of fruit, I mean frutas. Fruit au naturel and lots of fruit as juice. Not bottled juice. Jugos naturales: fruit + water in blender and strained. Pure bliss.
I had a few foodie missions while in Colombia. I definitely succeeded in exploring the different fruits. I even tried familiar fruits in case they tasted different, fresh from the South.
I think I lost track of everything I tried.
From the more obscure, I tried: curuba, feijoa, lulo, guanabana (soursop), anon (sugar apple), pitaya (dragon fruit), zapote, mamey and mamoncillo. Passion fruit: maracuja, as well as the purple gulupa and the smaller sweet granadilla. Oh, and açai, too, in a smoothie. Apparently we missed cherimoya (custard apple) and pomarrosa. We obviously need to go back (although I think I spotted both of them at my nearby grocer for $5/lb).
Then there are ones I already knew… and was won over by the sweetness of fresh fruit. Papaya has never been so lovely. Tons of bananas. Smaller bananas, too, bananitas (or banana bocadillo). Mangoes (mainly Tommy Atkins but they had smaller ones, too). Pineapple (did you know there are red pineapples? They had pits! Yes, pineapples have pits!!). Avocados. Starfruit. Young green coconut opened for us with a machete. Strawberries, blackberries (mora), watermelons, oranges and even apples.
I remember ordering a drink at a restaurant with a new-to-me fruit: sandia. The waiter described it as a fruit with a green skin, a pink inside with black seeds. I was excited to try something new! Only to find out it was in fact… watermelon. But still, it was a tasty watermelon and the watermelon jugos naturales really hit the spot.
My favourite? Well, it is a toss up between guanabana, anon, mamey and zapote. And lulo… and granadilla. OK, I can’t pick only one. Each one different than any fruit I’d had before. I’d love to plant a tree of each one in my backyard. Sadly, I don’t live in Colombia. Who thinks I can find a mamey tree in Texas for next year? I’d rent the place in a heart beat!😉
In any case, as much as I’d like to think it was back to normal upon my return, I really had to wean myself off the fruits. While I mostly ate them plain and in juice form in Colombia, here I’ve opted for a more filling main course salad courtesy of Ottolenghi.
Thai-inspired, the star of this dish is the creamy coconut-based dressing infused with lemongrass, Keffir lime leaves, ginger and shallots, balanced with a touch of tamarind, fresh lime juice, toasted sesame oil and soy sauce. All of the flavours are enhanced through the reduction of the coconut milk. It is probably one of the more elaborate and lengthy dressings to make, but easy none-the-less, and can be made in advance. The original recipe calls for canned coconut milk, but I opted for the coconut milk beverage (great idea from my spicy coconut-braised collards) instead which still produced a lighter dressing after the reduction.
Here, the dressing is used to bathe a kelp noodle salad with chopped mango, cucumber, lima beans (I used smaller Jackson Wonder lima beans) along with mint, cilantro and cashews. Add the dressing just prior to serving. The flavourful dressing worked well with the contrasting sweet mango, creamy beans and crunchy cucumber. Enjoy!
This is my submission to this month’s No Croutons Required featuring leafless salads, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday, to this week’s Potluck Party, to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness, this week’s Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Simona, to this week’s Summer Salad Sundays and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.
Thai Kelp Noodle Salad with Mango and Lima Beans
Adapted from Ottolenghi via The Guardian
400ml coconut milk beverage (I used So Delicious, but you could use canned, too)
1 lemongrass stalk, pounded
6 Keffir lime leaves, divided
1/2 tsp Aleppo chili flakes, or to taste
60g shallots (2 large ones), divided
40g galangal (or ginger), peeled, divided
1/2 tsp agave, or your choice of sweetener
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fresh lime juice (half a lime)
16 oz kelp noodles (or your favourite noodle – glass noodles, rice noodles or soba noodles would work well)
2 cups cooked lima beans (I used Jackson Wonder Beans)
2 mangoes, peeled and chopped (400g)
1/2 cucumber, chopped (200g)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cashew nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1. To make the dressing, place the coconut milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until boiling. Add the lemongrass, 4 Keffir lime leaves, chili flakes, half of the shallots, half of the galangal (thinly sliced). Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes, until it has reduced by more than half. Let cool then strain into a small bowl. Discard the bits (or eat them, they are very tasty!). Combine with the agave, tamarind, sesame oil and soy sauce. The dressing should be refrigerated until the salad is to be served.
2. Meanwhile, prepare your noodles. For kelp noodles, just rinse and drain. Combine with beans, mango, cucumber, cilantro, mint and salt. Thinly slice the 2 remaining lime leaves, grate the remaining galangal, thinly slice the shallots and add to the salad. Toss to combine.
3. Just prior to serving, add the dressing (you may not need all of it), sprinkle with lime juice and scatter cashews overtop. Season to taste.