Saturday, January 5, 2013

African Salad (Mango Avocado Salad)

First Christmas in 100F heat: check. Just returned from spending the holidays in the sparking sunshine and endless white sand beaches of Western Australia.  We had a fantastic time catching up with friends and family at bar-b-ques in public parks along beaches, down south in WA’s Margaret River wine region, and in the rolling gum-tree covered hills east of Perth.
curious black swans at our Christmas eve BBQ at Matilda Bay in Perth
In addition to the ubiquitous prawns on the barbie, we ate delicious and filling vegan meals, took advantage of WA’s excellent Asian food at Thai and Chinese restaurants, and enjoyed a beautiful meal overlooking a vista not far removed from Tuscany at Will’s Domain winery near Dunsborough (topped off by a sampling of cocoa nibs and chocolate bars at nearby Gabriel Chocolate). 
Will's Domain Winery, Margaret River, Western Australia
Grilled prawns, smoked salmon, gin-cured trout expertly prepared by my fabulous sister-in-law, and a range of salads made using summer’s best produce were welcome replacements for traditional American/British Christmas lunch fare.  I’ve been meaning to post the recipe for my in-laws’ famous ‘African salad’ for a while now, and as it featured on our Christmas table the timing seems appropriate.  

If mangos and avocados are out of season for you, book this recipe and make it when the weather turns warmer.  It’s the perfect accompaniment to grilled meat or fish.  For an easy main meal we throw in a big handful of sautéed prawns—chopped rotisserie chicken would also do the trick. 
SouthernSpoon blog: mango avocado salad with prawns
freshly cooked prawns with African salad

I’ve been making this salad for a year now based on the hubs’s memory, and only recently discovered that his mother also adds a little cream to dress the salad.  We think the salad tastes wonderful simply dressed with the juice from the chopped mangos, but if you prefer a creamy dressing, top the salad with a few spoonfuls of cream.

SouthernSpoon blog: mango avocado salad
African Salad: mango, avocado, and lettuce seasoned with a little garlic and black pepper
This salad turns to mush and the avocado quickly browns when refrigerated (though it still tastes great!), so try to prepare just enough for the meal by adjusting the amount of lettuce you use.  For a cleaner presentation, scatter the diced mango and avocado over the lettuce without tossing it afterward (as I’ve done for the photo above). 

African Salad
serves 5 as a side dish

1 clove garlic
1 head of lettuce, washed and coarsely chopped (oak leaf lettuce is pretty, but iceberg works fine)
1 ripe mango, diced into large chunks
1 firm-ripe avocado, diced into large chunks
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons cream (optional)

Peel the clove of garlic and cut it in half.  Rub the halves of garlic around the inside of your salad bowl, then chop the garlic finely and throw it into the salad bowl.  Add the chopped lettuce, and toss it to distribute the garlic. 

Add the diced mango and avocado, and toss very gently until distributed evenly.  (For a cleaner-looking salad, scatter the diced mango and avocado on top of the lettuce without tossing afterward). 

Top with a pinch of freshly ground black pepper, and, if desired, 3 tablespoons cream.  Serve immediately.

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