“This piece is ugly. Eat it,” my boyfriend demanded as he cut up a fresh mango for me.
“I don’t like mangoes,” I told him, and the ugly piece was offered to guests at my house until finally someone eagerly accepted—the only person who liked mangoes at all.
Why was I adding mango to a dish when I didn’t like mangoes? Who knows? I didn’t hate mango when it was mixed in with other ingredients, and I had become somewhat fond of mango salsa, I just didn’t quite like it on its own. I figured that other people would enjoy it, so that was all that mattered. Unfortunately, everyone else that was over for the Jamaican-themed dinner let me know a little too late after deciding the courses that they hated mango either way.
What made it even better was when everyone told me that they didn’t like blue cheese—which I didn’t like, either, yet had nearly a pound of that I was planning on including in the salad. Luckily, I was raised in a home where the mentality was, if you don’t think you like it, or haven’t liked it in the past, at least try it once more. If you still don’t like it after that, then we understand. (Read: starve.) I continued to put the salad together.
I mixed together all of the ingredients, which wound up becoming a beautiful-looking bowlful of color. At least it’s pretty, I thought to myself as I placed the salad on the table. I correctly anticipated that my guests wouldn’t rush to serve themselves the salad when there was a banquet of jerk chicken, rice and peas, tostones, and Jamaican beef bites being served. I begged everyone to “just try a little” as I pretended to be happy about the lump of non-meat that I loaded onto my plate. I took out the ranch dressing after a few requests, but urged everyone to try the dressing I made first. I didn’t want this salad to be a total loss.
Then, much to my surprise, I started hearing the kind of satisfied groans and compliments I usually receive after serving something loaded with bacon or grease or carbs, or more likely, all three. Every few seconds, there was a “This is amazing!” or an “I don’t like salad, ever, but this is delicious!” and even a “Wow, you should bottle and sell this salad dressing.” I took a bite to decide for myself. Woah. I took a second, and a third. I took big bites. I took another helping.
The salad was everything I had imagined in flavor and texture balancing theory—crisp and peppery from the arugula, sweet from the mango, salty and creamy from the blue cheese, and crunchy from the macadamia nuts, all tied together with the acidity of the honey citrus dressing—but it was even more than that. It was the best salad I have ever tasted. It was the best salad all of my guests have ever tasted, which they made evident as they piled their plates high with their third, fourth, and fifth servings of salad and sighed slightly in disappointment after the gigantic bowl was empty except for small traces of dressing-laden fruit and cheese crumbles, which they proceeded to pick out and munch on. The ranch dressing, by the way, remained unopened.
If you like salad, make this salad immediately. If you don’t like salad, make this salad immediately. The only complaint I have about it is that I now crave it every day, but I’ve been too busy to go grocery shopping in the past week, so I haven’t had the ingredients to make myself more.
- 1 lb arugula
- 2 fresh mangoes, diced
- 6 oz blue cheese, crumbled
- 4 oz macadamia nuts
- ⅓ cup orange juice
- Juice of 2 limes (3-4 tablespoons lime juice)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ½ cup canola oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Mix together dressing ingredients in a seal-able container or salad dressing bottle. Shake well and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Combine the remaining ingredients in a large salad bowl and toss to mix. Serve with the dressing.
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