Spring into Southwestern Flavor 5

with lentil soup & salsa-topped tilapia

Yvette Marquez is the author of the Muy Bueno Cookbook and blog.

Citrus, Mango, and Avocado Salsa

This citrus salsa is made with some of my favorite tropical fruits: mangos and avocados. Spoon it over pan-fried tilapia or just set it out as an appetizer with tortilla chips and watch it disappear.

Makes 3 cups 

+ 1 large ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and chopped
+ 1/2 cup diced red onion
+ 1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and chopped
+ 1 cara cara orange, peeled, segmented, and chopped
+ 1 mandarin, peeled, segmented, and chopped
+ 1 to 2 serrano or jalapeño peppers, finely chopped
+ 3 tablespoons lime juice
+ Salt to taste


Combine the chopped mango, red onion, avocado, orange, mandarin, and chile peppers in a bowl. Add the lime juice and olive oil and toss gently. Add sand chile peppers in a bowl. Add the lime juice and olive oil and toss gently. Add salt to taste. Set aside and let all the flavors come together at room temperature.


Pan Fried Tilapia

Growing up I did not eat much seafood, but as I grew older and started eating it more often, I quickly fell in love with it and made up for lost time. This recipe is quick and easy to make. The flavor is delicate yet complex enough to entice the palate. The citrus, mango, and avocado salsa pairs well with the simply prepared tilapia, making it a memorable and healthy meal.

4 servings

+ 1 pound tilapia fillets
+ 1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
+ 1 teaspoon garlic powder
+ 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
+ 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
+ 3 tablespoons salted butter
+ Citrus, Mango, and Avocado Salsa


1. Rinse tilapia fillets and pat dry with paper towels.
2. Mix flour, garlic powder, pepper, and salt in a shallow dish. Dip fillets in flour mixture and coat both sides.
3. Heat butter in skillet over medium heat until hot. Add floured fillets to skillet and pan fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until golden.
4. Place fillets on a platter and spoon the citrus, mango, and avocado salsa over fish before serving.


Lentil Soup

My grandma made lentil soup often, especially during the Lenten season. This earthy soup is healthy and hearty with the addition of carrots, celery, tomatoes, and spinach.

8 to 10 servings

2 cups raw lentils
+ 10 cups water
+ 1 tablespoon salt
+ 1 tablespoon olive oil
+ 1⁄2 cup chopped carrots
+ 2 stalks celery, chopped
+ 2 vine-ripened or roma tomatoes, chopped
+ 1⁄2 cup chopped yellow onion
+ 1 clove garlic, chopped
+ 1 cup coarsely chopped spinach


1. Sort the lentils by removing any stray beans or foreign pebbles that are sometimes present. Rinse lentils in a colander with cool water.
2. Over medium heat, in a large stockpot, bring the water to a boil and add the salt. After the water begins to boil, add the rinsed lentils and lower the heat. Cover and simmer until the lentils are almost tender, about 15 minutes.
3. While the lentils are cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add carrots, celery, and tomatoes and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Reserve.
4. Add sautéed vegetables and simmer for 15 minutes. Add spinach and mix. Salt to taste.
5. Ladle into a big bowl and serve with your favorite bread.