The state of Nayarit is a fruit lover’s dream. Where we live on the coast, we are surrounded by trees, vines, and orchards filled with mangos, coconuts, papayas, limes, bananas, passionfruit, and so many other fruits I had never heard of nor tasted before moving to Mexico like nanches, guanábanas (soursop), tuna (nopal fruit) and yaka (jackfruit). For a woman who loves fruit and spent her entire pregnancy stuffing as much of it into her maw as possible, I am smitten by my surroundings.
You can often find me taking walks around my neighborhood or hikes in the hills above Chacala scrumping a wee bit of fruit off the stem from wild plants and trees. I’m never quite prepared for collecting when I do find some fruits ready for the taking. So I end up stuffing them in my clothes, old plastic bottles, and bags I find on the ground or carry as much as my hands can hold. My family is amused but not surprised when I bump through the front door with my hip after my walks because my hands are full of fruit.
There is a wonderful culinary tradition in Nayarit of turning this abundance of tropical fruit into delectable treats and drinks – cocadas, panes, empanadas, aguas frescas, paletas, nieves, raspados, licuados, rollos de frutas and so much more. Driving the main highway that runs along the Nayarit coast – you will find fruit stand after fruit stand selling these goodies and crates and containers of fresh-cut and uncut fruit.
I generally like to eat my fruit straight up fresh, but I’m starting to dabble with making fruity treats and drinks. Right now, we are in the middle of passionfruit season and the end of mango season. Both fruits offer a multitude of options for making tasty treats in a variety of ways – whether frozen, baked, boiled, or strained. Here are some of my favorites. I hope you enjoy these recipes. Let me know what you think in the comments below!
Passionfruit agua fresca
Nothing is more thirst-quenching in the height of summer than tangy passionfruit agua fresca (fresh fruit water). I like to make mine with a touch of agave syrup and a twist of lime. This is super easy – just cut open 10-12 passionfruit, scoop out the insides (it looks like fish eggs!), whirl it all in a blender to break the pulp away from the seeds, and then strain it all into a large pitcher. The blended pulp will be thick; slowly run drinking water through the strainer as you fill the pitcher, capturing as much of the fruity goodness as you can. Add a long squeeze of agave syrup and a squeeze of lime, stir and enjoy over ice! The pulp and water tend to separate over time, so you will need to give it a stir before you pour another glass later.
Passionfruit and mango paletas with tajín lime dip
This is another easy-peasy recipe that’s a total kid-pleaser. If you live in a tropical fruit paradise, you must own popsicle molds to make fruity paletas (popsicles) – a ubiquitous Nayarit treat. Just blend peeled mango chunks and passionfruit pulp into a smoothie-like mush, spoon it into the molds and freeze! You can add a touch of agave or honey to sweeten them up. My 9-year-old daughter Maya also invented a great dipping sauce that is oh-so Mexícana. Combine lime juice, a few shakes of tajín, a spoonful of honey, and a pinch of salt. This dip turns any fruit paleta into a real Mexico-inspired treat.
Mangos, mangos, mangos!
Mango season is one of my favorite times of year in Chacala when the trees are bejeweled with dangling pink, green, and yellow fruits. Everywhere you walk, the air is filled with the sweet, tangy scent of ripe mangos. Of all the fruit I have tasted in the world, nothing is as sweet and delicious as a ripe mango off the tree. We buy them by the crate (about 50-75 fruits) for about $5 USD. I’m always looking for ways to use them so we don’t waste a single precious fruit. When the crate comes home, you will find me up to my elbows in mangos – peeling, slicing, and bagging quarts of fruit to throw in the freezer to use throughout the year. Here are some of my fave mango recipes:
2 mangos peeled and finely diced
¼ cup finely diced red onion
½ cup chopped cilantro
½ cup finely chopped poblano pepper
½ of a finely chopped serrano pepper
Juice of 1 lime
A few pinches of sea salt
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and let rest for 10-15 minutes to integrate the flavors. Add more salt and/or chopped serrano if you like it saltier/spicier. This tastes great on fish, shrimp, as a dip for tortilla chips, or on top of fresh greens for a sweet and spicy salad.
2-3 peeled and diced fresh mangos
1 clove minced garlic
¼ cup white vinegar
2 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. ground cardamon
1 tsp. turmeric
2 tbsp. lemon juice
Combine all ingredients except the lemon juice into a small saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 min, stirring often. Remove from heat, add the lemon juice and blend with a wand blender or regular blender once cooled. This is delicious with Indian curries, grilled fish or just spread on toast!
I thank my friend Karen for introducing me to galettes – an easy way to make a fruit pie without bothering with a fancy crust. It’s like an open-faced empanada!
1 ½ cup flour
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 stick grated cold butter
2-4 tbsp ice water
For crust edge:
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sugar
3-4 cups diced peeled mango
⅛ cup sugar
1 tbsp cup flour
1 tsp vanilla
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold grated butter and mix with your hands until pea-sized chunks start to form. Add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the chunks start to come together to form a dough. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for 1 hour. In a separate bowl, combine mangos, sugar, flour, and vanilla and mix until well integrated. In a separate small bowl, beat the egg.
After the dough is done chilling, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out the dough onto a floured surface into a small pizza shape – about 12 inches in circumference and ¼-⅛ inch thick. Transfer it to the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Add the mango mixture to the center and fold up and pleat the edges of the dough to make a nice little round basket for your fruit.
Brush the edges with the egg and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake until the crust is golden, about 40 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before slicing. Pro tip: top with vanilla ice cream!