it's amazing what happens when you try a fruit you hate in the place where it comes from. has that ever happened to you, with any kind of food? like you normally hate gumbo, but then you're down in new orleans (my heart hangs heavy) and get the real deal and you're like wow, this is good.
six years ago (!!) mr. mimi and i enjoyed our honeymoon down in peru, and on our second week we stayed in the rainforest where of course there were fresh avocado and papaya trees, two of the fruits i typically hate eating. yeah, i know, advocado! weird, right? everyone loves avocado. well evidently i don't, unless it comes right off the tree. same with the papaya. buy me some up here in the US and i hate it. pick one off the tree in the rainforest and i love it. sure, i admit maybe it has something to do with the beauty of the place -- i fell in love with the fruit because i fell in love with being in the rainforest. i admit it because i know how closely food is tied to emotions and well-being (isn't that what "comfort food" is all about). but it's like my taste buds changed once i tasted what a real avocado should taste like.
same thing with the mango. i've always hated it. but down in haiti, mango trees are everywhere. it's the fruit du jour, tourjours! the first month i was in haiti i didn't eat any. but the second month i finally succumbed to needing some fruit in my diet and hesitatingly i ate my first mango in a really, really long time.
i loved it.
ok, maybe i admit i was in haiti and desperate for fruit in my diet -- that any fruit would have been delicious. but the mango was so fresh and juicy, with such a sweet flavor, but not like a berry sweet, just an unfamiliar (to me) tropical sweet. so when i came back home i went on a mango binge, 10 for $10 at the grocery store, done.
then i found this recipe and i was like hmm, mango and candied pecans?! what is not to like about that idea! and, indeed, i loved this salad, all three different flavors -- earthy spinach, tropical mango, and sweet candied pecans -- were wonderful.
spinach salad with mango and candied pecans: serves 4
adapted from bon appetit (april 2000, original recipe click here)
large piece of parchment paper
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
6 tb olive oil
3 tb balsamic vinegar
1 cup pecan halves
1/2 lb baby spinach leaves
2 large mangos, diced
salt and pepper to taste
1. stir sugar, 1 tb oil, and 1 tb vinegar in skillet over medium heat until sugar melts and syrup bubbles, about 3 minutes.
2. mix in pecans and stir until nuts are toasted and syrup coats evenly, about 7 minutes. turn nuts out onto parchment paper, separating them to cool completely.
3. combine spinach, mango, and pecans in large bowl. whisk remaining 5 tb oil and 2 tb vinegar in small bowl to blend, season with salt and pepper. toss salad with dressing, and enjoy!