Florida cuisine requires fresh, colorful ingredients and provides Caribbean zest


July 01, 1992|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Contributing Writer

It's one part Latin America, one part North America, with a -- of the Caribbean Islands thrown in. In the past few years Florida cuisine has finally come into its own as a distinct regional cuisine.

This contemporary and free style of cooking liberally incorporates fruits such as star fruit, mango, papaya and pineapple in a wide range of foods, from appetizers to entrees, sauces, salsas and desserts. Fish, frequently grilled with interesting glazes or barbecue sauces, proliferate in this cuisine. Fresh is everywhere!

This meal is a simple, easy rendition of the new Florida cuisine. Fish, such as tuna, orange roughy, or red snapper can be substituted for chicken. Brilliantly colored salsa adds an interesting mix of exotic fruits and vegetables. Orzo, a very small grain pasta, mixed with fresh vegetables balance the meal. Follow the package directions for cooking the orzo (it only takes about ten minutes). If using fresh vegetables, they can be blanched in the hot water along with the pasta.

Fresh pineapple slices topped with crumbled macaroon (or coconut) cookies are a perfect finish.

Items you should have in your pantry include: Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip or Miracle Whip Light dressing, cayenne pepper, cumin, fresh garlic, orange juice, salt and pepper.

Your 10-item-or-less shopping list:

2 ripe mangoes

fresh basil

3 limes

1 red bell pepper

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)

Orzo pasta (shaped like cantaloupe melon seeds)

fresh or frozen vegetable medley mixture

fresh pineapple

macaroons or coconut cookies

/ Citrus grilled chicken with Miami mango salsa

Serves four.

1/2 cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip or Miracle Whip Light dressing

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 clove fresh garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 pounds)

Mix dressing, juice and seasonings. Pour half of dressing mixture over chicken; cover. Reserve remaining dressing mixture. Place chicken on greased grill over medium coals (coals will have slight glow) or rack of broiler pan 5 to 7 inches from heat. Brush with remaining half of the dressing mixture. Grill or broil 8 to 10 minutes. Turn; brush with remaining dressing mixture. Continue grilling or broiling 8 to 10 minutes or until tender.

% Mango basil salsa 2 ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4 -inch dice

1/2 red bell pepper, cleaned and cut into 1/4 -inch dice

1/2 cup orange juice

juice of 2 limes

1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Mix all salsa ingredients and serve with hot chicken.


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