You Say Mango, I Say Mahngo. Regardless, It’s Still Not Salad, Y’all

by Carilyn on May 5, 2021

A looooooong time ago, way before I became a pro runner but after I’d gone on hiatus from practicing law, when I had new babies at home and was finding myself cooking ALL THE TIME, I hosted a cooking segment on the local news. Part of my job was to come up with a theme, and then cook dishes that went with it. Living on the border, themes that incorporated fun and creative spins on the Mexican dishes we all grew up with proved to be the most popular. And one of the absolute, hands down, favorite dishes was Mango Salad. I know, snooze, right? Frankly, I don’t even like mango. But something about this “salad” (Jello is magically transformed from “dessert” to “salad” in the South simply by adding fruit – life lesson for the day) just worked for people. It came from the incredibly popular Seasoned With Sun, published by the Junior League of El Paso, a cookbook that has stayed in circulation for decades. Even now, recipes from this book will show up at potlucks, picnics, fancy dinners, and intimate brunches on the regular. And this salad continues to make the rounds.

As I said, one of the weirdest (and there are maaaannnny) southern culinary traditions is serving jello + fruit and calling it a salad. Sometimes, as a nod to real salad, people will put one leaf of iceberg lettuce underneath each serving, but that is really the extent of anything vegetal in this recipe. I guess the large can of mango that is in it counts for something, but please know this leans more towards a fresh, sweet accompaniment to a meal rather than an opportunity to get one of your daily servings of vegetables.

And at the time in my life when I made this recipe on television, that was a-okay with me. When you are breastfeeding twins, all food, and I mean ALL food, is wanted, needed, and devoured. Especially appreciated, though, were recipes that were easy, delicious, and satisfied multiple levels of taste – sweet, tangy, substantive, and easy to eat while you were imprisoned on the couch for hours while two miniature milk vampires drained you dry. I honestly believe that on more than one occasion I ate this entire salad by myself – and it comes in full-size bundt pan.

Woman eats world, y’all!


Mango Salad

adapted only slightly from Seasoned With Sun, Junior League of El Paso


3   3-oz. packages of lemon Jello

1 26-29 oz. can of mangoes, in syrup

1 8 oz. package of cream cheese

juice of 1 lime

boiling water

shredded/grated coconut for toping, optional


Drain syrup from can of mangoes into a measuring cup. Add boiling water to equal 3 cups of liquid. Stir in lemon Jello and allow to dissolve. Set aside.

In a blender, combine mangoes and cream cheese. Blend until completely smooth. Add in gelatin mixture and the juice of the lime. Blend again.

Pour mixture into a well-oiled (easiest is to use unflavored baking spray) bundt pan, individual custard dishes, or a 13 x 9 pan. Chill for at least 4 hours up to overnight. Flip onto a decorative plate. Delicious with grated/shredded coconut.



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