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COLUMN from CRYSTAL SMITH: This Installment / Mango, Macadamia and Avocado Salad

By Crystal Smith

Sept. 11, 2012. Recently my mother and I cooked for my grandparents. Yes, the mother that doesn’t cook. She’s branching out. The thing is, she likes to grill while I find grills terrifying. I try not to even stand near them due to an unwarranted fear that the propane may spontaneously combust. That’s taking it a bit far, but you get my point.

I cook. I don’t grill. I’ll leave the grilling to the men…and my mother. When my grandmother, Mama Patti, arrived, she gushed about how excited she was to eat a meal at my mother’s house. Apparently it was the first time she had been invited for a meal cooked by my mom.

I made a simple gluten-free pasta dish and this salad while my mom turned out perfectly grilled salmon and chicken seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Dinner was full of love and laughter. My grandfather is quite possibly the best story-teller ever. The thing is, I can’t tell you any of the stories he told. They just aren’t appropriate for this space. One day I’ll write a book about “Big Ray” and tell you all about him. To me he is one of the most fascinating men in the world. The only thing I’ll add is that the Hank Williams, Jr. song, “Family Tradition” has always made me think of him.

I knew Mama Patti would like this salad, but I was a bit nervous about feeding it to Papa Ray. I watched him as he took the first few bites and I saw a puzzled look appear on his face. I asked him what was wrong and he replied, “I thought that bean woulda’ been more cooked than that.” I explained that it was a macadamia nut and supposed to be crunchy. My mother and I then stifled our giggles. So, be sure to warn your dinner guests about the nuts in the salad. They do look a lot like garbanzo beans, I’ll give him that.

This salad comes together so quickly and it was a nice change from the salads I usually make. I found the original recipe on this site, I just simplified the dressing a bit. Making it also reminded me how delicious macadamia nuts are. Does anyone have a favorite way to use them that isn’t the classic cookie?

Macadamia nut, mango and avocado salad

For the salad: 

3-4 handfuls baby arugula

1 mango, cubed

1 avocado, cubed

¾ cup macadamia nuts, toasted and salted

For the dressing:

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon agave syrup

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

pinch of salt

lots of freshly ground black pepper

First, mix up the dressing. I like to use a mason jar, and then it’s already in a storage container if I have any extra. Just pour the lemon juice, agave syrup, olive oil, salt, and pepper into the jar and give it a good shake.

Toss the greens into a large bowl and top with the avocado, mango, and macadamia nuts. Drizzle the dressing over the salad. I don’t use all of the dressing, but you may like a bit more. You can always pour a bit on and then leave some extra on the table for people to add if they wish.

Serves 4-6 depending on the other food you serve alongside