appetizers, sides, snacks

farmers’ market monday: mango pineapple salsa + toasted coconut.

 It’s finally here; the last day of vacation. True to form, it has gone way more quickly than it should have. That’s okay; it means we had a great time. Today is my last day: my last day to swim under palm trees, take the Wee One for a walk on the beach, and generally do nothing. I’m going to take full advantage of that in a minute, but before I get back to my book and my pool floatie, here’s a little something I made a few nights ago for you.

We do light dinners during vacation. This is due to several factors. Mostly it’s due to necessity; we may or may not have had ice cream for lunch a few days down here. And it’s hot. So it’s nice to end the day with something light you can enjoy outside in the summer sunset. This is one of those things.

 Mango salsa. Sounds delicious, right? And down here, you can’t leave the house without falling over some perfectly ripe mangoes, so it seemed fitting. And this salsa is a bright, cold thing, which pairs wonderfully with the mid-summer heat. We had just planned on grilling some shrimp and sitting outside, and the abundant tropical fruit got me thinking.


Pineapple. pineapple goes really well with shrimp.

And you know what goes great with pineapple? Coconut.

And coconut shrimp is like, a huge thing, right?

It’s like the circle of (vacation dinner) life.

And so I went, making it up as I chopped. Reserve your persnickety measuring for baking; I do. Things like salads, and salsa especially, deserve a little randomness. They like it when you wing it; it makes it personal. So I’ll give you guidelines, but I strongly suggest chopping everything up and feeling your way through the recipe, adding here and there, until you get the flavor combination you like best.

 As we sat by the pool, we determined this would be a great addition to a big taco bar for a party. It gives you that rush of snappy fruit flavor that’s lovely and a little unexpected. Or you could just throw it on a plate with some guacamole, grilled shrimp, and chips. We did. But we’re lazy like that on vacation. And lazy dinners are sometimes the best kind.

A little note about the toasted coconut: I would keep this separate until serving time. Better yet, serve the toasted coconut alongside the mango salsa so people can add it in as they wish, and so the coconut stays slightly crisp. Or, if you’re not into coconut, this would make a perfectly respectable mango-pineapple salsa for you. Also, this one is best served the minute you make it, as the flavors meld together a bit, but mostly stay intact and individual, which is what you want.

 Now: I need  to go enjoy my final 24 hours of vacation. Must….find….raft…

Adapted from the feeling that I wanted to do something with mangos before leaving the tropical region of the country. And seemingly inspired by every mango salsa recipe on the interwebs.

Mango Pineapple Salsa + Toasted Coconut

for the salsa:

  • 1 mango, diced into small cubes (and if you don’t know how to properly cut mangos, i suggest you go here for some instruction. They’re not always as easy as they look. Once you have cubes like the photos have, cut them into a smaller dice for your salsa)
  • 1/2 fresh pineapple, cored and diced into small cubes
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • juice from 1-2 limes (and please use fresh lime juice here, not plastic limes)
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped cilantro*
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

for the coconut topping:

  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded or flaked coconut

*a note about cilantro: Cilantro is one of those herbs people either really love or they really do not love. That being said, you’ll find that many people dislike it simply because they’ve had dishes where the cilantro completely overtakes the other flavors. Cilantro is an aggressive herb; be sure to keep that in mind when making your salsa. You may want to begin with 1/8 cup of it and go from there, so as not to frighten your guests away from it. Who knows; you may be able to make a few of them (or yourself), cilantro converts if you use it sparingly. 

Preheat your oven to 350˚F. Line a lipped baking sheet with parchment paper. If you don’t have a lipped baking sheet, don’t worry: just be careful when flipping your coconut.

Spread your coconut evenly in a single layer onto your prepared baking sheet. Try not to leave holes in areas of coconut: it will brown according to how much (or how little) it’s clumped together, so even is key here. Toast for 7-8 minutes total, flipping your coconut around with a spatula at the 5-minute mark. At 8 minutes, if your coconut is not fully toasted, flip again with your spatula and watch very carefully; once coconut starts to get brown, it takes mere seconds for it to burn.

Once toasted, your coconut will be several shades of peach and brown, and it will be difficult to not snack on. Do you best, and let cool on the baking sheet while you make your salsa.

Add your diced mango, pineapple, and onion to a medium bowl. Squeeze in your lime and toss gently (the pineapple won’t go anywhere, but ripe mangos can be soft, so you want to try not to maim them with your spoon) until evenly distributed. Add in your cilantro a 1/8 cup at a time, tasting as you go, until you reach the flavor combo you want. Remember: salsa, like dips, contain flavors which meld and get more pronounced as they sit.

Season with sea salt and ground pepper and serve immediately, toasted coconut alongside.

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  • Reply Emma July 17, 2012 at 5:25 am

    YUM. One of my favorite dishes to make involves grilled pineapple, guac, shrimp poached in coconut milk with lime grass, quick-pickled onions, and deep-fried tortillas. This combination reminds me of that in a great way – and looks just as good:)

    Sadly, you must be wending your way home now. Oh well, at least you had a friggin long and awesome vacation!!

    • Reply Emma July 17, 2012 at 8:37 am

      Make that lemongrass. 🙁 Dummy.

      • Reply shannon July 18, 2012 at 6:07 am

        …but i was having such a fun time thinking about lime grass being a thing. 🙂

    • Reply shannon July 18, 2012 at 6:06 am

      y’know, emma, i would have never thought about pairing pickled onions with pineapple; like it would have never occured to me. i need to get more experimental with fruit, it seems.
      lime grass? 🙂

      i am sitting on my home sofa in my home great room as i type this. it was a long vacation, and a nice break, and somehow we didn’t do all the things we said we wanted to, even in three weeks’ time. but; vacations are like that. 🙂 we had a great time, but there’s definitely something nice about being home again.

  • Reply movita beaucoup July 17, 2012 at 6:39 am

    It’s time I told you something : I hate pineapple. But when I was 16? And on vacation in the Bahamas with a childhood friend? I liked it. Must be a vacation food. Sun and heat make you crave fruit. Even pineapple.

    I hope we can move past this.

    • Reply shannon July 18, 2012 at 6:02 am

      truth back: i never buy pineapple at home. nor do i buy mangoes. i’m not a huge fruit eater, except in the summer, save for a few berries i can grab and eat. and i like portability, which factors in when i think about carving out the insides of a fruit which resembles a porcupine. so i understand; i’m moving past it as we speak, and i feel like these little joint revelations have brought us closer together.

      there are foods totally reserved for vacations. i don’t know if it’s because you’re somewhere different, or if it’s just climate change/what’s available. i’ll say this: this salsa would be perfectly delicious sans pineapple, just by adding another mango to the mix to make up for the loss of fruit.

      • Reply Emma July 18, 2012 at 10:16 am

        95% of the time, I only buy mangoes because I go crazy for making summer rolls, with a combo of avocado, shrimp, mango, and rice noodles. Sometimes cucumber. So good, and not very fruit-like:)

        • Reply shannon July 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm

          that. sounds. delicious. i may be delirious from the Hades-like heat, but i may actually run and get all of those things tomorrow. to make these lovely summer rolls you speak of. i feel like they’re akin to spring rolls, yes? same wrappers?

          • Emma July 19, 2012 at 8:31 am

            yep, same wrappers – i don’t know what to call them, since restaurants label them as spring rolls, but the internet labels them as summer rolls. i thought spring rolls were actually deep fried? either way, same wrappers! SO DELICIOUS.

          • shannon July 20, 2012 at 9:25 pm

            y’know, i don’t know what to call them either; because yes, spring rolls are like egg rolls in that they are fried? at least that’s what my local chinese establishments think. but i see this type – cool, non-fried – listed as both spring and summer rolls. so confusing, the asian cuisine purveyors. i’m excited: i’ve never rolled a spring/summer roll myself, so we’ll see how that goes.

  • Reply Tastefully Julie July 18, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    That looks amazing! I’m sad for you that your vacation is almost over. But, then again, you’ve been on vacation for, like, ever! So no, now I’m not sad anymore 😉

    • Reply shannon July 20, 2012 at 9:18 pm

      julie, i’m kinda not sad either: vacation is awesome…this i know. but: i love a routine and a schedule, and it’s nice to be back home, settled in, and back to work on “normal life.”

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