When the Becca, the Food Editor of Gozamos, wrote to ask for a Brazilian recipe (my version, of course), my mind started to churn – what did Brazilian mean to me?

My head filled with visions of everything vibrant and fresh with intense flavors. Succulent grilled meats, lively stews, bright fruits and hearty beans. Scantly-clad couples dancing in the street at the midnight hour swirled amongst the culinary images.

It’s tough to dance the night away if your belly is full, so the dish I wanted to create needed to be light, but with enough flavor to satisfy. And I needed to be cognisant of easily attainable ingredients here in the States. A series of Brazilian flavors did the samba in my kitchen and out came four different dishes including a Coconut Corn Stew, a Grilled Banana and a Black Bean Soup (look for these recipe postings soon).

This Mango and Jicama Salad encompasses all things Brazilian (to me); it’s fresh, colorful, lively, slightly spicy and healthy. This salad would be a great small plate starter or paired with grilled meat or grilled shrimp for full meal. Get together with a close friend, toss this simple salad together and then dance the night away in the street – that is fat and happy in the purest sense.

Brazilian Mango and Jicama Salad

1 semi-ripe mango
1 Jicama
1 green apple
1 red pepper
1/4 small red onion

Slice all ingredients into matchstick size pieces, except the red onion. Or, however you decide to slice them, just keep in mind the salad will look more appealing, be easier to eat and the flavors will blend better when all ingredients are cut to the same size (length and width). Carefully slice the red onion into the same matchstick length, but as thinly as you can.

Spicy Avocado Dressing:
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeds and all (use a whole pepper for a spicier sauce)
1 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped (substitute cilantro if desired)
1 ripe avocado
1 shallot, roughly chopped
juice from 2 limes
juice from 1 lemon
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
olive oil (roughly 4 tbsp.)
water (roughly 1/4 cup)
salt and pepper

Place all the ingredients in a blender except for the olive oil; I like to roughly chop everything before placing in the blender – it helps in the blending process and is easier on the blender.

Turn the blender on high and drizzle in the olive oil until desired thickness is obtained. Depending on how ripe the avocado is, you may need to thin the vinaigrette out slightly (I did). Use simple water for this. You could use more olive oil – but these flavors are all strong enough they can hold up on their own plus you don’t want to overwhelm the dressing with too much oil.

For a special presentation, line up each salad item across a plate, drizzle the dressing on the salad, top with chopped parsley and serve.

For a more rustic appeal, simply toss the dressing with all all the chopped fruits in a large bowl. Add a bit of parsley for decoration and serve.

Tips and techniques: As oxygen reaches the insides, many fruits and vegetables will turn brown after you cut them, which looks quite unappetizing. Squeeze fresh lemon or lime on the the apples and avocado immediately after cutting them to help avoid this oxidation.

Find more great recipes on Monique’s Blog at http://fatandhappyblog.blogspot.com/

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