I spent many years living in South Florida, where aside from meeting healthy green iguanas on my patio, I truly tasted mangoes for the first time. Coming from non-tropical New England where I grew up I’d thought I knew how a fresh mango was to eat – mushy, stringy and overwhelmingly musky-tasting – not very sexy. It wasn’t until a co-worker of mine in Miami brought me some drippingly sweet, ripe mangoes from the huge tree that grew over her backyard that my thoughts about mangoes were completely turned around.
I don’t live anywhere near a mango tree these days, but at least better-tasting mango varieties that can stand up to travel are making their way into our markets. I love the Ataulfo or Champagne mangoes that are in season right now. They are virtually fiber-free and have the perfect ratio of sweet to tangy.
I enjoy making a meal out of salad, but dinner for me cannot be just a bowl of plain greens. I seared some super-fresh sea scallops briefly on the grill along with some mango, and drizzled it all with a sweet-tart lime dressing – this is a great summer dinner.
¼ cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
Pinch cayenne pepper
16 large dry-packed sea scallops
Freshly ground black pepper
3 small, ripe mangoes (such as Ataulfo)
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
4 cups baby spinach leaves
½ head radicchio, thinly sliced
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
4 scallions, root ends trimmed and chopped
- Whisk together the lime juice, agave, cayenne and ¼ teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Pat the scallops dry with a towel; sprinkle both sides with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Stand each mango stem side up on a cutting board with the wider sides facing away from you; slice off the two “cheeks” on either side of the stem, cutting close to the pit – you should have 6 pieces (save the remaining mango flesh for another use); peel each piece and slice in half lengthwise.
- Heat a heavy skillet, preferably with ridges, over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter or oil to the pan. Arrange the mango slices in the pan and cook for a few minutes on each side, just until browned. Remove and set aside.
- Add the remaining tablespoon butter or oil to the pan; add the scallops and sear until they’re nicely browned, 2-3 minutes per side. Pour in the lime juice mixture and turn off the heat, swirling to blend the juices.
- Arrange some spinach, radicchio and avocado on each of 4 plates. Top each serving with 4 scallops and 4 mango slices; drizzle with the pan juices and sprinkle with the scallions.
Shrimp would be a perfect substitute for scallops.