Cuban Mango Avocado Salad

Mango Avocado Salad

Summer is a celebration of all that is tropical and good in this world. Mangoes, lychees, avocado, mamey, anones, and star fruit galore- this is what my summer is made of. Summer in South Florida is filled with ripe mangoes and everyone you know either has a mango tree or a friend or relative with a mango tree.

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The air around homes with mango trees is sweet with ripe and rotting fruit baking in the hot Florida sun as many don’t pick or enjoy the fresh mangoes fast enough and they fall to the ground fermenting. When I lived in Coral Gables I would walk my dog Chloe and mangoes would literally fall at my feet from neighboring trees. Coral Gables is a tropical paradise with limestone houses, shady banyan canopies and palm lined streets. In the summer the tree lines are often dotted with red ripe mangoes and bright lychees ready to fall at a moment’s notice. You might even catch a Macaw on the branches or a tall white Egret on your street corner. This recipe is the cousin of the classic Cuban avocado salad with the addition of fruit. Cuban mango avocado salad is a simple summer recipe that uses the freshest of seasonal ingredients and lets the ripe fruit shine.

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The scent of ripe mango will always remind me of South Florida summers and riding home with Publix bags filled with this tropical delicacy from family and friends fortunate enough to have a mango tree of their own! This summer Cuban mango and avocado salad is perfect for grills, picnics, large parties, and quick and easy meals.

Mango Avocado Salad

Cuban Mango Avocado Salad

  • 1 avocado diced
  • 1 ripe mango diced
  • Pickled red onions
  • 4-6 small heirloom tomatoes quartered
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp pickling juices

Marinated Red Onions

  • 1 small red onion  sliced
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 5-7 juniper berries
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Enough water to cover the red onion

Soak the sliced red onions in cold ice water. Soak for 20 minutes and then drain. The thin film on the red onion will naturally separate and becomes easy to peel right off like in the picture below. Next add the red wine vinegar, sugar, and juniper berries (optional), and make sure to top with water to cover. Let the red onions marinate for at least 30 minutes covered in the fridge.

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Dice the mango and quarter the tomatoes. Add diced avocado* and top the salad with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the marinated red onions to your taste. Drizzle the mango avocado salad with the olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Gently mix and enjoy! Try this recipe with roasted chicken, anything off the grill, fresh fish, really anything you like and make sure to enjoy the summer produce while it lasts.

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**Note: I used Haas avocados in this recipe, but the crisper watery Florida avocado is my favorite here. Sadly I could not find them in New York, so the creamy Haas will have to suffice.

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Guava Old Fashioned

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Guava old fashioned is one of the best cocktails I have come up with, if not THE best. As you might have caught on by now I have a love affair with guava and it is no secret. The muddled guava shells wonderfully complement bourbon and are further enhanced by the addition of angostura bitters and an aromatic orange twist.

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I prefer slightly sweeter bourbon like Bulleit or Blantons for the guava old fashioned, but nothing quite as sweet as Jack Daniels, though I am sure that would work just fine. Maker’s Mark, Knob Creek, or Buffalo Trace would be good substitutions too, but Bulleit Bourbon with its maple flavor and nutmeg spice is my personal favorite.

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Muddled guava shells are great to use because they already come in heavy syrup which can be used to further sweeten the cocktail. I experimented making the guava old fashioned with guava marmalade in place of the shells, and this tasted equally delicious. Although the guava is strained out the grainy fruit pulp can settle to the bottom of the glass so I recommend serving with a cocktail straw to continually stir up the guava goodness. Old fashioned cocktails are my go-to drink nowadays, and the guava old fashioned is a new Cuban twist on an old classic.

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Guava Old Fashioned Cocktail

1 guava shell in heavy syrup
1 tablespoon heavy syrup from the can
2 ounces Bulleit Bourbon (or your favorite)
4 dashes Angostura bitters
Splash club soda
Orange twist for garnish
Sugared guava cube for garnish

Muddle one guava shell with a tablespoon of the heavy syrup. Add four dashes of Angostura bitters, pour in 2 ounces of Bulleit or your favorite bourbon, top with ice and shake well. The guava old fashioned can also be stirred with a bar spoon but vigorously shaking the cocktail breaks up the muddled guava further.

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Strain the guava old fashioned over fresh ice. I like to use the giant ice cubes or ice sphere, they look elegant and take longer to melt. Add a splash of club soda, garnish with an orange twist and a sugared guava cube (you can buy sugared guava cubes or roll a cube of guava paste in fine granulated sugar). Cheers and enjoy!

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Note: Conchita brand of both the guava shells and guava marmalade are my favorite. Luckily in Miami guava everything is readily available, but you can order the guava shells or guava marmalade online or likely find these products in local Hispanic markets.

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Guava Almond Oat Bars

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Guava almond oat bars are crunchy, nutty, gooey, and perfectly sweetened with tart guava. Guava is a tropical fruit featured in Cuban cuisine from batidos (shakes), pastelitos, or served simply sliced on Cuban crackers slathered with thick cream cheese. I love eating guava marmalade drizzled over cottage cheese or swirled into plain oatmeal. My abuelos always had Cuban crackers, a bar of guava paste, and Philadelphia cream cheese in the kitchen ready for a sweetly sinful Sunday snack.

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I seem to always have an abundance of Quaker Oats in my apartment. I had been religiously eating them for breakfast daily, but I’m over oatmeal for the time being, so I have to find other uses for these wholesome grains. I recently tried a local brand, Mama’s Guava Bars, whose rich, soft guava bars are made with shortbread crusts. These guava bars are seriously delicious, but I wanted something with a crunchier, nuttier, and thicker crust.

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Guava almond oat bars are warmly scented with cinnamon and fresh nutmeg complimented by a tart gooey guava center. These guava almond oat bars are the perfect treat for an afternoon snack paired with a steaming cup of café con leche and a good read.

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Guava Almond Oat Bars:

Old-Fashioned Oat Crust:
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup chopped almonds (4 ounces)
1 ¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg; beaten at room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter

Guava Filling:
1 jar Conchita Brand Guava Marmelade
2 shells or 1/3 cup diced guava shells

Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease a 13 x 9 Pyrex dish and line with parchment paper. Mix around 11 ounces of the guava marmalade with the diced guava shells and set aside. Mix the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg with a whisk. Pulse the almonds in a food processor to coarsely chop unless you bought pre-chopped almonds from the grocery store.

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Stir in the old-fashioned oats and chopped almonds. Stir in the melted butter and add the beaten room temperature egg. Lastly, add in the vanilla and your crust is complete!

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Press a little more than half of the crust into the bottom of the parchment lined baking dish. Now top the bottom layer with the guava marmalade mixture. Sprinkle the remaining crust as evenly as possible on top of the guava almond oat bars and press to form a rough top crust. Bake the guava almond oat bars for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

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Allow the guava almond oat bars to cool for at least 1 hour- 2 or more hours is ideal so they set well. You can chill the guava almond oat bars in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before cutting into bars.

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