Almost everyone I know is having a hot summer right now. Even my friends up north, many who don’t have AC, are having temps well into the 90s.
That’s when it’s time to break out foods that are cool & refreshing.
My friend Larry introduced me to this cool Cucumber & Mango Salad and I can’t get enough.
A few simple ingredients and just a little chopping will take you straight to salad heaven.
Here’s what you need:
Cucumber, Mango, Jalapeño Pepper, Basil, White Balsamic (or White Wine) Vinegar, Salt & Pepper (not pictured)
Peel a cucumber, cut it into strips, and then cut it into cubes.
If you have strips that are mostly seeds, I like to just trim off the seedy bits.
If you’re using a garden cucumber, you will probably want to cut it in half & scoop out all of the seeds before you start chopping.
This salad lives and dies by having a great tasting mango.
When you buy them at the store, they are often hard as a rock so you have to plan ahead and give them a couple of days on the counter to ripen.
As they ripen, they change from mostly green to gold & red and also start to smell slightly sweet.
Similar to an avocado, the best way to test for ripeness is to give them just a tender little squeeze. When they a just becoming tender to the touch, they are good to go.
QUICK TIP: If your mango (or avocado…this works for them too) becomes ripe too soon, pop it in the fridge and that will slow the ripening way down and buy you a couple of days.
Cut 2 discs off of either side of the oblong pit, score them both directions, then turn them inside out to cut off the little cubes.
Don’t forget to go back and trim away that good mango around the edges of the pit too.
Since the cucumbers & mangos are nice and cool, it’s fun to kick things up just a bit with a little finely chopped jalapeño.
Remove the seeds and white inner membranes, cut into very thin strips, and then into a tiny dice.
This jalapeño was pretty strong so I only used half. If you’re worried about the heat from the pepper, you really don’t need to be. Combined with the cool cucumber & sweet mango, the jalapeño blends right in and is not overtly spicy.
You can, of course leave it out, but I urge you to live a little and try it with at least half a pepper.
Finely chop up 4-6 basil leaves and add them to the salad.
I tossed in a pinch of salt & pepper just to bring out the flavors and create that good sweet/salty thing.
Add 1-2 Tablespoons of white balsamic or white wine vinegar.
I usually add just under 2 Tablespoons of white balsamic. This time I followed Larry’s suggestion and substituted 1 Tablespoon of coconut infused balsamic for a little bit funkier flavor.
Now might be a good time to admit that I have a fancy olive oil and infused vinegar hoarding problem…
More about that some other time…
Give the salad a quick toss to combine all the ingredients and dig in!
It’s amazing how the flavors of a few simple ingredients combine to make something so scrumptious.
I’ve also tried this with a little fresh mint thrown into the mix and that adds another cooling flavor.
Cucumber & Mango Salad would be perfect for a picnic, cookout, or as a side for anything you have on the grill from burgers to chicken, fish, or ribs.
Honestly, this goes with everything and is great eaten all on its own.
Here’s the recipe – from Larry Zimmerman