Scallop Salad with Lime and Grilled Mango

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.

Scallop Salad with Lime and Grilled Mango

Serving Size: serves 4


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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Strawberry Mascarpone Crostata

Strawberry Mascarpone Tart

I don’t have a huge sweet tooth, but I’m in love with this dessert; strawberries piled on top of a simple Italian-style crostata. It has a creamy vanilla mascarpone cheesecake filling baked into pasta frolla, a crumbly, shortbread-like cookie crust.

strawberry mascarpone crostata

Any kind of seasonal fruit would be delicious on this tart. I’m thinking lightly sweetened berries, figs, peaches or nectarines in the summer and sauteed apples, pears or poached dried fruit during fall and winter.

strawberry mascarpone crostata

Strawberry Mascarpone Crostata

Serving Size: 8 servings


For crust:

2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 ½ sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

¼ cup whole milk

For filling:

1 cup mascarpone cheese

1 cup Greek yogurt

2 eggs

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

½ cup sugar

3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced

Sugar to taste


  1. To make the crust, pulse the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a food processor 3 or 4 times to blend; scatter the butter over the flour and process until the mixture looks sandy and you can’t see any butter chunks.
  2. Whisk together the egg, yolk and milk; add to the flour mixture and pulse a few times until the dough just begins to come together (but not until the mixture forms a ball over the blade which will toughen the dough). Add some ice water drop by drop if it seems dry. Remove the dough from the workbowl and knead it gently to form a ball. Flatten it into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator about 1 hour until firm but not hard. If the dough gets too cold and seems hard, leave it out for 15 minutes until it’s workable.
  3. Lightly dust the dough with flour and put it on a lightly floured surface (a smooth countertop is ideal). Cover with a large piece of plastic wrap or parchment and roll the dough out to a 12-inch diameter circle. Carefully peel off the plastic wrap, roll the dough onto the rolling pin and unroll over a 9-inch round or square tart pan. Press the dough into the pan and up the sides, trimming the top edges of the dough flush with the pan by running the rolling pin over the top. Put the pan into the refrigerator to chill while you make the filling.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  5. Beat the mascarpone, yogurt, eggs, vanilla bean, sugar, flour and salt in an electric mixer or by hand with a whisk until smooth. Scrape into the tart pan, place the plan on a baking sheet and bake until the filling no longer jiggles in the center, 35 – 40 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack then place in the refrigerator to chill 2 – 4 hours.
  6. Just before serving, toss the strawberries with sugar to taste and either arrange over the top of the tart or pile them up for a more rustic presentation

Tuscan Apple Cake

Here’s another apple dessert I want to share – it’s a quick, simple recipe that makes good use of fall’s apple bounty.

I did make apple pie recently, but while I was browsing through some new cookbooks the cover image of a rustic apple cake on one of them - Dolci: Italy’s Sweets - drew me in right away. Of course I tinkered a little bit; I adjusted ingredients because I wanted to make a square cake in a larger pan (rather than the 8-inch round cake in the book) and added pine nuts for a more “Tuscan” flavor profile.

Surprisingly, the baking time for my cake is much less than the book’s recipe – 45 minutes rather than 75 minutes – even though I increased the volume of some ingredients. I’m not sure how to account for that except that to think maybe there was a typo in the original. An hour and 10 minutes would have way overbaked the cake.

This cake keeps very well for a few days covered on the kitchen counter, and I think it’s even better enjoyed on the second day along with morning tea or coffee.

Tuscan Apple Cake

Adapted from a recipe in Dolci: Italy's Sweets by Francine Segan


1/4 cup melted butter

3 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest (about 2 small lemons)

1 cup whole milk

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored; one diced into chunks the other 2 thinly sliced

2 tablespoons pine nuts

2 tablespoons coarse sugar, such as turbinado


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with two strips of parchment paper so that the paper overhangs by a few inches all around - this will make the cake easy to remove for slicing later. You can skip the paper step if you want to cut and serve the cake right out of the pan. You can also use a 9-inch springform pan if you don't have a square one that size.
  3. Brush the lined pan or the unlined springform pan with some of the melted butter to coat all sides.
  4. Beat the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer on medium-high speed, until the eggs become thick, pale and creamy. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lemon zest in a bowl.
  5. Lower the mixer speed to stir in the flour mixture in two additions, alternating with the milk.
  6. Scrape half the batter into the pan and scatter the diced apple over. Add the rest of the batter and arrange the sliced apples on top. Drizzle the remaining butter over the top of the cake and sprinkle evenly with the pine nuts and coarse sugar.
  7. Bake about 45 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and the center is firm when touched with a fingertip. Cool slightly before removing from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.