If you're in need of a light and refreshing, almost tropical element added to your short and dark wintry days, this salad will quickly become your new best friend. It is creamy from the tahini dressing and avocado, sweet, juicy, and slightly tart from the mango, and crunchy from toasted pine nuts. These flavor and texture elements in one bowl, contrasting and complimenting each other in a balanced way, are what elevate this salad from average to magical.
This was my welcome-to-Switzerland-for-the-holidays salad for my mom. She bravely left a pleasant 50° Fahrenheit (10° Celsius) winter behind to venture across the Atlantic only to receive a frigid welcome of -10° Celsius (14° Fahrenheit). She's such a trooper! So I wanted her to feel more at home with this bright and cheery salad. Don't worry, I also gave her a warm bowl of soup. But this salad could also be a festive and maybe unexpected addition to your holiday spread!
Avocado and mango are definitely in my Top 5 Favorites list. Fortunately, the avocados around here are pretty consistent, but to my delight recently the small, sad bin of mangos moved from the outskirts of the produce department to front and center, multiplying in volume. I figured they must be pretty tasty, and I decided to snatch up a few without yet knowing what I would do with them.
Few of us are lucky enough to live right where avocados and mangoes are grown. So, let's get one thing straight about buying locally when it comes to these two wonders. I buy seasonally and locally as much as I can. For one, I want to feel connected to the natural rhythm of nature and enjoy the peak freshness of produce. I also want to support small-scale local farmers to ensure their ongoing success and show my appreciation for having access to produce and dairy products cultivated and produced in a way that is friendly to the environment, animals, and our bodies. BUT, there are two exceptions. I will shamelessly buy mangos and avocados wherever I am and in whichever season I find myself, assuming the cost is still reasonable and they are ripe and tasty. Hypocritical? Maybe. But will you care after trying this salad? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
Fortunately some mango varieties (i.e. the common thick-skinned mangoes often sold in super markets) are grown year around in some parts of the world. Same goes for avocados. But if mangos are not looking good or not available in your market right now you can substitute segments from a few oranges or blood oranges.
And if you live in Northern Europe or the Midwestern/Northern U.S. and are really desperate for a tropical reprieve you can substitute toasted, chopped macadamia nuts for pine nuts. But most importantly you want the nutty crunch, so when it comes down to it any old toasted nut will do.
Cheers to magical salads!
Avocado and Mango Salad with Tahini Vinaigrette
Serves 4 as a side salad/2 as an entrée salad
Notes: I added crumbled feta the first time I made this, but I didn't think it was necessary and chose not to include it in the recipe. The salad is arguably better without, but I will leave that decision up to you.
1 Tbsp. tahini paste
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
Splash of apple cider vinegar
Drizzle of honey
2 Tbsp. mild olive oil, walnut oil, or avocado oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 large ripe but not overly ripe avocado, diced
1 medium ripe mango (or 1/2 large), sliced in long thin strips then halved
Several big handfuls Mache leaves (or other tender greens like Boston/Butterhead or baby spinach)
3 Tbsp. pine nuts, toasted
In the bottom of a large serving bowl, mix all ingredients for the vinaigrette. Taste and adjust the level of acidity and sweetness to your liking. Remember, you want the vinaigrette to be slightly more acidic at this stage because the flavor will be diluted a bit once tossed with the salad.
Add salad ingredients and toss gently with salad servers or two large spoons. Serve immediately!