Though “seasonal” fruits and vegetables are often available all year around, there are certain ones that lend themself to warmer temperatures and cool evening breezes. If you’re looking to add some Mexican influence to your spring cooking, take a look through some of Vallarta Eats suggested preparations:
Nopal: The prickly pear cactus, is a common ingredient in Mexican cooking. The flat paddles have their thorns removed and are then cut into slices. They taste sort of like green beans, but with an okra texture. Yummm! The bean soup with nopales is only compared to the traditional cactus salad, which with some hot tortillas and a good sauce is perfect.
Chayote: Chayote (Chai-oh-tay) is a type of squash that is closely related to other edibles like pumpkins, melons, and gourds. This green gourd is commonly grown in tropical and subtropical areas, such as Mexico. Though is can be prepared in many ways, try it in a light and refreshing spring chayote salad.
Nance: Nance fruit which is known in the southwest regions of the United States but popular across Mexico is a unique fruit that grows in clusters on large shrubs. Nance fruit matures from green to a yellow-orange color. The fruit has a thin skin that can be easily peeled. Nance fruit has an oily white pulp that surrounds 1 to 3 small inedible seeds. The aroma of the pulp has been described as “soap-like” due to its high oil content. Nance fruits have a starchy texture and are somewhat acidic but have a subtle sweetness when fully ripe. You can make a nance lemonade or maybe have them in a pickle.
Cherimoya: The cherimoya, sometimes called a sugar apple, has a sweet, juicy, white flesh with pulp that contains seeds. Like soursop, its seeds are toxic. It has a creamy and soft texture that makes it great in ice cream, smoothies, mousse and pie filling. Cherimoya is good for the heart, hair, and skin. Try it in a custard.
Papaya: The papaya is native to southern Mexico and Central America. A ripe papaya will be sweet and has a taste similar to a melon or mango. The flesh of a ripe papaya will melt in your mouth and has a buttery feel. You can try this fruit with a grilled steak and papaya recipe.
Mamey: A unique, tropical tree fruit with an interior texture that is both creamy and sweet, the vibrant salmon-colored flesh of the ‘Pantin’ mamey sapote is unlike anything most people have ever tasted. The flavor is a combination of sweet potato and pumpkin with undertones of almond, chocolate, honey, and vanilla. This fruit has incredible properties, go ahead and cook a fruit soup so you can make the most of it.
Mango: Mangos first came to Mexico in the late 1700s from Spthe Philippines and today are a staple of Mexican culture. Stroll any Mexican seaside town like Vallarta and find vendors selling this sweet and juicy fruit on a stick. One of the most popular ways to enjoy it is “con chile y limon”
Pineapple: Not only is it very juicy and healthy, it also allows us to create many delicious dishes, how about pineapple skewers with shrimp or sweet and sour pork ribs? Do not miss the opportunity to prepare the pineapple roll, the pineapple cream with coconut and melon or panna cotta with pineapple.
Pitaya: Dragon fruit is a fruit that grows on several species of cactus that are native to Mexico, Central, and South America. There are several varieties of different colors.
The fruits are unusual in appearance, but the colors are quite attractive. With a delicate, sweet taste and a creamy textured pulp, they are sometimes called “strawberry pear.”This fruit is delicious when it is cold, you can eat it even by spoonfuls. A pitaya gelee is incredible, you can also eat it in cream, in fresh water in jelly and even in tamalitos.
Banana: Do not think twice, a vegan bread made with banana is the answer to what you are looking for. A little less healthy but just as tasty, we recommend the banana pancake that has a perfect flavor, and these chocolate-covered bananas will surely restore your soul.
Guanabana (Soursop): Sometimes called custard apple, guanabana or Brazilian pawpaw, the soursop is a prickly, pear-shaped tropical fruit with a soft and juicy inside. It has a tangy, citrus and sweet taste. Don’t eat the seeds though—they’re toxic. Soursop has many medicinal uses such as promoting sleep, controlling diabetes and relieving back pain. Try it in a guanabana sorbet with mango coulis.
Prickly Pear (Tuna): This fruit of the nopal cactus is known as tuna in Mexico—not to be confused with the fish, which is called atún. In English, it’s called prickly pear. It’s used in drinks, candies, and jellies and can also be used as an apple substitute. Health benefits include decreased inflammation, cancer prevention, and lowered cholesterol and is very refreshing in a lemonade.
Loquat: This fruit, known as loquat in English or nispero in Spanish, has a soft, orange flesh and usually three to five almond-sized seeds. It is native to Asia, but it grows in Mexico and the Southern United States as well as Central and South America. This fruit can be enjoyed in a chicken salad.
Guava (Guayaba): Guavas are a sweet fruit most often consumed as juice. They can also be used in jellies, candies, and sauces and as a tomato substitute. Try seasoning them with soy sauce, salt, pepper, vinegar or sugar. Health benefits include helping with weight loss and relieving colds and coughs. These guava glazed ribs will make your mouth water.
Tamarind: Fruit that has bean-like shaped pods with a cinnamon brown to clay colored external appearance. Inside the pods, the fruit’s flesh is tender, succulent and green with a highly acidic flavor when young. Its underdeveloped seeds are soft and white. As the fruit matures, the pod becomes brittle. The flesh begins to dehydrate to paste form and takes on the cinnamon appearance of the pod while also losing its acidic punch and becoming sweeter. It is at this stage of maturity that it is most often used for culinary purposes. You will love this spicy tamarind glazed steak.