Mango-Avocado Seafood Salad

Serves 4 as a luncheon or starter course

This salad is flexible in its ingredients. If a spicier salad is preferred, add more red pepper. There are some excellent bottled mangos that can be substituted in emergencies. Vary the seafood with the season.

Since the seafood is all cooked when it goes in the salad, leftovers can be used in a timely manner.

Also, it is preferable to cut the avocado at the last minute. The vinaigrette prevents some discoloring, but try to avoid cutting the avocado more than an hour or two in advance.

— Nathalie Dupree

Ingredients

1 cup shrimp, crabmeat (preferably jumbo lump), or cooked white fish

1 mango, peeled and seeded

2 ripe avocados

1/2 cup viniagrette or Italian Dressing

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground hot red pepper or to taste

1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, basil or parsley (optional)

Directions

Cut the shrimp and seafood into bite-sized pieces. Pick through the crabmeat for any shells. Cut the mango into bite-sized pieces.

Peel the avocados, discard seeds, and cut into bite- sized pieces. If you wish to serve the salad in hollowed-out avocado shells, cut avocados in half, remove seeds and scoop out avocado carefully before cutting it up for the salad. Set shells aside, the insides covered closely with plastic wrap to prevent them from turning brown.

If cutting mangos and avocados ahead of time, toss in sufficient vinaigrette to coat and to prevent the fruit from turning brown. Season to taste with salt, both peppers, and optional herbs, reserving any pretty stems for garnish.

Variation: Garnish salad with 2 cheese straws each.

Variations: Use bottled mangos, substitute fresh peaches or freshly chopped apple for the mangos, or increase red pepper for a spicier dish. Add chopped and peeled peaches, cherry tomatoes, black olives, chopped pecans, slivered almonds, or very finely chopped celery and onion.

Nathalie Dupree is the author of 13 cookbooks, most recently the James Beard award-winning “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.” She lives in Charleston and may be reached through Nathaliedupree.com.