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Published April 26, 2009, 12:00 AM

I'm mad about mangoes

Are you ready for my next food mania? I’ve moved from lemons to mangoes. Although mangoes seem to be in grocery stores almost year ’round, I always seem to find the most deliciously sweet mangoes in the spring.

By: Sue Doeden, Park Rapids Enterprise

Are you ready for my next food mania? I’ve moved from lemons to mangoes.

Although mangoes seem to be in grocery stores almost year ’round, I always seem to find the most deliciously sweet mangoes in the spring. My favorites are the small, flattened oval-shaped mangoes that are often labeled Adolfo or Ataulfo. I’ve also seen these yellow-skinned mangoes referred to as Champagne mangoes.

Whatever you call them, they are buttery smooth and delicious. When I am lucky enough to find them in the store, I buy a whole case of them.

Fresh mangoes are rich in vitamin C and are a good source of dietary fiber and potassium. I chop them up and toss the fruit into salads, layer mango chunks with yogurt to make parfaits, stir the juicy bits into scones and quick breads, cook them up to make savory soup, and puree them in the blender to make smoothies and frozen mango daiquiris.

You can’t always tell if a mango is ripe by its color. Some mango varieties stay green, even when they are ready to eat. When ripe, mangoes will feel soft when given gentle pressure with your thumb. If you purchase mangoes that aren’t quite ripe, allow them to sit out at room temperature. Once they are ripe, they can be refrigerated to extend their life for a few more days. I like to remove the fruit from the skin, cut the mango into chunks and freeze in tightly sealed containers. These frozen chunks are perfect to toss into the blender when making my morning smoothies.

I love the great versatility of mangoes. They’re just as happy paired with chicken or pork as they are with pound cake or scones. And, as I recently discovered, they feel quite comfortable with shrimp.

Shrimp and Mango Quesadillas are a quick-to-fix Mexican-style toasted sandwich, using tortillas rather than the traditional bread to hold the filling together. Shrimp seasoned with chili powder and ground cumin takes just minutes in the oven to roast to perfection. Once the roasted shrimp is chopped, it is layered on tortillas along with cheese, bits of sweet red bell pepper and chopped fresh mangoes. Heated in a skillet, the cheese melts and embraces all the other ingredients in its warm and gooey stickiness.

All of the filling ingredients can be prepared before serving time and stored in the refrigerator. At meal time, line up the ingredients and have hungry diners create their own quesadillas.

Black Bean Salsa makes the Shrimp and Mango Quesadilla experience complete. It’s also good just served as a salsa with chips.

Serve Shrimp and Mango Quesadillas with Black Bean Salsa for lunch or supper. Cut the quesadillas into small wedges to serve as an appetizer before a meal out on the deck. And if you’re thinking ahead to Cinco de Mayo, these tasty toasted tortilla sandwiches would be a great addition to a party menu.

At my house, Shrimp and Mango Quesadillas with Black Bean Salsa will get me to my next mango creation as I deal with my mango mania.

Shrimp and Mango Quesadillas with Black Bean Salsa
1 pound shrimp (26 to 30 count), peeled, deveined, tails removed
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil plus more for brushing on quesadillas
1 lime
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
3 plum tomatoes, seeds removed, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 large ripe mangoes, peeled, seeds removed, chopped, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ripe avocado, peeled, seed removed, chopped
1 (10-count) package flour tortillas
16 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 red pepper, seeds removed, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place shrimp in a large bowl and toss with chili powder, ground cumin, garlic and olive oil to coat. Transfer to an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Roast seasoned shrimp in preheated oven for 6 to 8 minutes, until the shrimp is cooked through. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Make Black Bean Salsa by placing beans, red onion, tomatoes, jalapeno pepper, cilantro and chopped fruit from 1 mango in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Grate the zest from the lime and add to bowl. Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice from one half over the ingredients in bowl. Gently toss together. Cover bowl and place in refrigerator until serving time. At serving time, gently toss in chopped avocado.

Chop roasted shrimp and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with juice from remaining half of lime. Toss.

To assemble the quesadillas, lay tortillas on work surface. Sprinkle half of each tortilla with cheese. Layer with shrimp, some chopped mango, chopped red pepper and more cheese. Fold the bare half of tortilla over the half layered with ingredients. Brush the top of each quesadilla with olive oil. Lay the quesadilla, oiled side down, in a preheated grill pan or other heavy skillet. When brown, brush top side with olive oil and flip over. Heat until tortilla is brown and cheese inside is melted.

Serve black bean salsa on the side. Makes about 10 quesadillas.

Tips from the cook

--Quesadillas can also be cooked on an outdoor grill or baked in the oven. The oven works well when you are feeding a crowd because you can prepare several at the same time. Place oiled quesadillas on a baking sheet. Slide the baking sheet into an oven preheated to 375 degrees. Bake for about 10 minutes. Use a large metal spatula to carefully turn each quesadilla and bake another 5 minutes, or until brown and crisp.

--I prefer to use the whole wheat tortillas that can be found in most grocery stores.

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