Generally speaking, I'm not someone who typically eats a salad for lunch. But yesterday I found myself craving a salad-- not lettuce or spinach based-- something with a little bit more heft. I saw this recipe for Saladu Awooka ak Mango in Saveur Magazine and since it's packed with avocados, I was pretty sure it would leave me feeling sated.
The verdict on lunch? It was absolutely delicious and bursting with flavor. The Senegalese like eating this refreshing salad because it's a nice break from their traditional stews which tend to be much heavier. I thought it was the perfect lunch. It was just over 80 degrees in Denver yesterday, so light(er) was the way to go.
Making this salad reminded me that I really want to delve into West African cooking, though I think that this particular dish seems rather Caribbean too. And while I'm going the West African route, maybe I should try to cook my way through the whole continent! There's a ton of diversity in African cooking (from ingredients, spices, styles, influences, etc.), and that means that there are lots of options. I know that most people don't typically think of vegetarian fare when they think of Africa, but there are some really great national dishes that don't use meat. Well, okay, unless you are Masai (Maasai). They eat cow and...that's pretty much it.
I travelled to Kenya and Tanzania a few years back, and actually had amazing vegetarian food-- thanks in large part to the sub-continental Indian community's influence on East African cuisine (many Indians were recruited to work on the British railway that connected points in Uganda to the Indian Ocean at Mombasa.)
Of course North African cooking (Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian and Egyptian) has some great options for vegetarians such as tagines, couscous and legume dishes. And there's Ethiopian food, one of my favorites...but I don't think I'm confident enough to start with that just yet.
So there you have it. My first West African post. I hope to explore more Senegalese dishes in the future.
Saladu Awooka ak Mango (Avocado-Mango Salad), Courtesy of Saveur Magazine, A Feast for All
INGREDIENTS½ cup finely chopped parsley
¼ cup peanut or canola oil (I used peanut)
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/4" cubes (I went with 1/2 inch)
2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1″ chunks
1 small navel orange, peeled and cut into segments (I only had half an orange left, so I used it)
2 tsp. unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS1. Whisk together 6 tbsp. parsley, oil, both citrus juices, jalapeño, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add mangoes and avocados, and toss gently to combine; cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate to meld flavors, about 1 hour. (I didn't chill it for an hour, and still thought that the avocado and mango soaked up the flavor.)
2. To serve, transfer avocado salad to a serving bowl; halve orange segments crosswise, and lay over salad. Sprinkle with remaining parsley, and coconut if using. Serve chilled.