Fatigued and miserable with a summer cold, I assembled Food52.com’s “Mango Cucumber Chili Salad” in between episodes of Orange Is The New Black. Inspired by Inmate Mendoza, the prison’s head chef, I removed my security bars and plucked liberally from my fire escape herb garden.
I even removed a half-smoked cigarette stuck between the thyme and the basil, a stray from my neighbor upstairs.
The result was an amazing hydrating feast, perfect for nourishing myself during the last dregs of the blahs. The most delicious parts were the mango and cucumber doused in chili powder. I’m not a hot spice lover, but I recommend adding a whole tablespoon of cayenne for a sinus-cleansing kick. The spice actually brought out the mango’s sweetness, giving it more texture and fragrance.
Here’s what you need:
1 very ripe mango, sliced
2 cucumbers, thinly sliced into rounds
1/4 teaspoon (or to taste) cayenne chili powder
¼ teaspoon salts
2 tablespoons thinly chopped scallion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (mint, cilantro, basil, chives, or a mix)
Here’s how you do it:
Arrange the mango and cucumber slices on a plate. Evenly sprinkle chili and salt. Top with the chopped scallions and herbs, then cut lime in half, and squeeze juice evenly over everything. You will have enough for two servings, perfect as a side dish or as leftovers for lunch. When I’m feeling better, I will definitely take this to my next summer potluck.
Ann Votaw is a certified yoga teacher, freelance writer, and flexitarian who has more experience eating than cooking. If she can do it, you can too!