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It’s a blissful day when what appears to be languishing on the counter or in the fridge comes together into a sumptuous, healthy, fun meal that easily solves the question, “What’s to eat?” on an oh-so-hot afternoon. Here’s today’s tale:

For Christmas, my in-laws generously ordered Dave and me a year’s subscription to Harry & David’s paired fruit and cheese. Each month a new treat arrives and we never know what the box will hold. Sometimes there’re apples and Cheddar or perhaps pears with Manchego; this last time there were tiny yellow-gold mangos plus a citrus-ginger BellaVitano. Instead of pairing the most recent delivery as we were meant to do, we sliced up the some of the fruit for our morning yogurt/granola...


..and saved the cheese for an afternoon snack.

Next day, when one sweet, silky mango sat all alone beginning to pucker in the fruit basket during the steamy morning, I knew the time had come to put it to use it for lunch. If it sat one more day, it would be toast.  Well, not toast exactly, but…you get the idea.

Here’s what Rosie likes to do on hot days.

I rifled through the fridge thinking cottage cheese ease, but came away with fresh mozzarellaA just ripe avocado was on the counter and near the sink –et voila!– a big glass jar full of fresh basil. One thing led to another Alyce caprese riff and now you’ll have to try this for lunch, dinner, or even a first course for a special al fresco meal this summer:

MANGO-AVOCADO SALAD WITH FRESH MOZZARELLA, BASIL, AND HONEY

serves 1

I like local honey. If you aren’t into sweetness (and this is really just a tad sweet), try a drizzle of balsamic vinegar instead of the honey. 

  • 4 slices each:  ripe, peeled mango, ripe peeled avocado, fresh mozzarella
  • 4 leaves fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Pinch mixed kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Layer the mango, avocado, and mozzarella on a salad plate; tuck the fresh basil leaves in beside the mozzarella slices. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle the honey with the salt and pepper.  Serve immediately at room temperature.

{printable recipe}

Cook’s Note:  My food blogging friend, Linda A. Thompson Ditch, made a note on my fb post of this dish’s photo wondering about using mint instead of basil–great idea! I might have done that if my mint hadn’t just died, maybe.  Try it and see what you think, as will I since there are now two pots of mint outside. (One is peppermint and the other one is labeled “mojito mint,” which I’m sure isn’t its full species name!) Even a mix of the two herbs sounds like a distinct possibility; it works in Vietnamese cooking.

Check out Linda’s Kansas food adventures on There and Back Again. Linda also writes professionally and recently had some great news about an upcoming Food Network writing gig. Can’t wait to see what she’ll be up to! Stay tuned…

A FEW HINTS ABOUT THE FOODS USED IN THIS RECIPE:

+Did you know that fresh mozzarella is vegetarian, but that the firmer aged mozzarella may not be if it’s made with rennet, as it often is?

+I  regularly buy a bag of unripe avocados at Costco or Trader Joe’s and store them in the fridge, taking out 2 at a time for ripening at room temp. Saves a bundle. Do wash your avocados before slicing.

+The fresh basil that comes in the plastic box at the store lasts a lot longer if you trim the ends and put it in water a la fresh flowers. Make sure all of the stems are reaching the water.  My basil is coming on, but I don’t count on it at altitude and I have little as of now. Either the sun burns it ups, the sudden drops in temperatures kill it, or the deer use it for snacking.  Last Friday, we had a high in the 50’s, to give you a clue.

WINE:  Rosé.  Or make David Lebovitz’ Rosé Sangria.

If you liked this, you might like my:

Peach-Avocado Salad with Basil and Grapes

or, for a more savory take on the theme:

Caprese with Garlicky Shitakes

…or just type “caprese” into the search box for a few other options.

Sing a new cool song this summer,

Alyce