mango and coconut syllabub recipe

5 coconut recipes that will instantly transport you somewhere tropical

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With the heatwave upon us, here’s how to incorporate coconut flavours into easy summer dishes.

Is there a flavour more distinctly summery than coconut? Famed for growing in idyllic tropical climates, the rough brown husk and sweet white flesh are instant signifiers of warm weather, picture-perfect beaches and umbrella-like palms.

It’s surprisingly difficult to define coconut: even expert botanists can’t agree whether it should be classed as a fruit, nut or seed. But, like a dreamy Hollywood lead, coconut’s mysteriousness and unwillingness to be pinned down make us love it all the more.

You probably already use coconut oil for sizzling stir fries, add coconut milk to wintry curries and sip coconut water after particularly intense work-out sessions. And happily, the fruit/seed/nut is an easy win when it comes to simple summer dishes, too. Add a sprinkle of the desiccated kind, a swirl of delicately-flavoured yoghurt or a dash of velvety cream for an instant hit of holiday flavour. 

Fancy giving it a go? The options for sweet and savoury dishes are endless. If you love fish and chips, why not try Dr Joanna McMillan and Melissa Clark’s recipe for coconut fish fingers with sweet potato fries? Breadcrumbs are mixed with finely shredded coconut, then used to coat fillets of white fish. You’ll never reach for a frozen fish finger again.

Alternatively, for a vegetarian protein hit, make Heidi Swanson’s wonderfully savoury, tamari-dressed chickpeas with kale and coconut. She recommends serving the mixture with avocado, and scooping it into little gem lettuce cups for a veg-heavy take on tacos.

Is dessert more your thing? Tiffiny Hall’s semifreddo should be your first port of call for hot weather. Whipped coconut cream is gently folded into banana custard, scattered with raspberries and frozen for a smooth cool-down pudding. Her almond and coconut slices, meanwhile, are supremely snack-able – with medjool dates, oats and tahini working together to create wonderfully syrupy squares.

Finally, holiday flavours come courtesy of Katy Beskow, whose mango purée and coconut syllabub is a must for anyone in need of a quick, throw-together vegan dessert.

Whip up a piña colada, coconut negroni or batida de coco to serve alongside for a truly holistic coconut experience…

  • Spicy chickpeas with kale and coconut

    spicy chickpeas with kale and coconut recipe
    Best coconut recipes: Heidi Swanson's spicy chickpeas with kale and coconut

    Heidi Swanson says: “This combination of seasoned chickpeas, coconut, kale, quinoa and avocado is quite good when bundled into a lettuce wrap if you have some bright, lively little gem lettuce around. 

    “Seek out curly-style kale here, since it crisps beautifully in the oven, and use sesame-chilli oil in place of toasted sesame oil if you like a bit of heat.”

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    • 60ml extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil or sesame-chilli oil
    • 1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
    • 310g chopped curly kale, stems trimmed and ribs removed
    • 55g unsweetened shredded large-flake coconut
    • 40g nutritional yeast
    • 1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    • 400g cooked quinoa or brown rice
    • 1 ripe avocado, thinly sliced
    • salted garlic yoghurt (recipe below)

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 190°C and place a rack in the centre.

    In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, sesame oil and tamari.

    Combine the kale, coconut and yeast on a rimmed baking tray and toss well using your hands (really go for it with the tossing!). Add about two-thirds of the oil mixture and toss again.

    Arrange the kale evenly across the baking tray. Bake for 15–20 minutes, tossing once or twice along the way, until the kale is crisp and the coconut is deeply golden.

    In the meantime, heat the chickpeas and quinoa in a small saucepan over medium heat (if they stick to the pan, add a splash of water). 

    Transfer the warm chickpea–quinoa mixture to a serving bowl and toss with the remaining oil mixture.

    Top the chickpeas with the kale–coconut mixture and place the avocado slices over the top. Serve warm with dollops of yoghurt.

    Salted garlic yoghurt

    Heidi Swanson says: “This is the condiment I reach for more than just about any other. It adds a creamy component that works with everything from traybake dishes, such as spicy chickpeas with kale and coconut, to burritos and flatbreads. You can dial up or down the garlic to taste.”

    Makes one cup

    Ingredients

    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 1 tsp fine-grain sea salt
    • 250g plain Greek yoghurt

    Method

    Place the garlic on a cutting board and sprinkle the salt on top. Using the flat side of a sharp knife, cut and mash the garlic and salt into a paste. 

    Scoop the paste into a jar with a lid and stir in the yoghurt. 

    Store the salted yoghurt in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

    From Super Natural Simple: Whole-Food, Vegetarian Recipes For Real Life by Heidi Swanson (£22, Hardie Grant), out now

  • Coconut fish fingers with sweet potato fries

    Coconut fish fingers with sweet potato fries
    Best coconut recipes: Dr Joanna McMillan and Melissa Clark's coconut fish fingers with sweet potato fries

    Dr Joanna McMillan and Melissa Clark say: “Serve the fish with the fries and a lovely big salad of mixed greens and other veggies.”

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    • 800g sweet potatoes, scrubbed, skin on
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tsp smoked paprika
    • 400g flathead fillets (or any firm white fish)
    • 60g fresh wholemeal sourdough breadcrumbs
    • 2 tbsp shredded or desiccated coconut
    • 50g semolina
    • 35g plain flour
    • 2 large eggs
    • salt flakes

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

    Cut the sweet potatoes into large, long matchsticks and place in a large bowl. Toss with 1 tablespoon of the oil and sprinkle with the paprika and freshly ground black pepper. 

    Spread the fries on the tray in a single layer. Bake for about 40 minutes, flipping halfway through the cooking time, or until the fries are browned and cooked through. Don’t worry if the edges of the fries become slightly darkened.

    While the fries are cooking, cut the flathead fillets into fingers (one fillet will make approximately three fish fingers).

    Combine the breadcrumbs, coconut and semolina in a shallow bowl. Season with freshly ground black pepper. 

    Put the flour in another shallow bowl. 

    Whisk the eggs in a third shallow bowl.

    Dust the fish in the flour, then dip into the egg, turning to coat. Finally, toss the fish in the breadcrumbs, covering all sides.

    Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over medium–low heat. Cook the fish, turning, until golden and cooked through, about 8–10 minutes. Don’t let the pan get too hot otherwise the crumbs will burn.

    Remove the fries from the oven and sprinkle with a little salt. Serve immediately with the fish fingers.

    From The Feel-Good Family Food Plan by Dr Joanna McMillan and Melissa Clark (£16.99, Murdoch Books), out now

  • Raspberry coconut semifreddo

    raspberry coconut semifreddo recipe
    Best coconut recipes: Tiffiny Hall's raspberry coconut semifreddo

    Serves 6

    Ingredients

    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 tbsp maple syrup
    • 2 bananas
    • finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
    • 3 tbsp currants
    • 150ml coconut cream, chilled
    • 90g fresh or frozen raspberries
    • 35g coarsely chopped pistachio nut kernels
    • 10g micro herbs (optional)

    Method

    Lightly spray or brush a 20cm square cake tin with oil and line with plastic wrap (the oil will help the wrap stick), leaving plenty of plastic overhanging the sides so you can cover the semifreddo with it later.

    Whisk the eggs and maple syrup in a small heatproof bowl. 

    Place this bowl over a saucepan of boiling water (don’t let the bowl come into contact with the boiling water or the eggs will scramble), and continue to whisk until the mixture is thick and ribbon-like. Set aside to cool.

    Blend the bananas, lemon zest and juice together, then stir through the cooled egg mixture and the currants to make a custard.

    Whisk the coconut cream until thick (the coconut cream must be very cold for this to happen) and gently fold into the custard. 

    Scatter the raspberries and pistachios over the base of the tin, pour over the custard mixture and cover with the overhanging plastic wrap.

    Freeze for 6 hours, or overnight. 

    Remove from the freezer and cut in half then cut each half into 3 triangles. 

    Serve scattered with micro herbs, if you like.

    From Snack Power: 200+ Delicious Snacks To Keep You Healthy, Happy And Lean by Tiffiny Hall (£12.99, Murdoch Books), out now

  • Almond and coconut rough slice

    almond and coconut slice recipe
    Best coconut recipes: Tiffiny Hall's almond and coconut rough slice

    Makes 16

    Ingredients

    For the base:

    • 8 medjool dates, pitted
    • 155g chopped almonds
    • 50g porridge oats (use brown rice flakes or quinoa flakes if gluten free)
    • 30g raw cacao powder
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
    • 2 tbsp tahini
    • 2 tbsp rice malt syrup

    For the topping:

    • 2 tsp shredded coconut
    • 1 tbsp chopped almonds

    Method

    Line a square 20cm baking tin with baking paper.

    Place all of the base ingredients in a food processor and pulse until all the mixture is a rough, sticky dough and is holding together.

    Press this mixture firmly into the prepared tin, then gently press the coconut and almonds for the topping into the surface and freeze for 30 minutes.

    Slice into 16 small portions. 

    Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

    From Snack Power: 200+ Delicious Snacks To Keep You Healthy, Happy And Lean by Tiffiny Hall (£12.99, Murdoch Books), out now

  • Mango and coconut syllabub

    mango and coconut syllabub recipe
    Best coconut recipes: Katy Beskow's mango and coconut syllabub

    Katy Beskow says: “This quick dessert is simple to put together for a light, summery dessert. You’ll find thick coconut yogurt in supermarkets; choose varieties with a high percentage of coconut milk instead of water as a main ingredient for the creamiest texture and freshest flavour.”

    Serves 4

    Ingredients

    • 2 large ripe mangoes, peeled, stoned and flesh roughly chopped
    • zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lime
    • 1 tbsp maple syrup
    • 8 rounded tbsp thick coconut yogurt
    • 1 tsp desiccated (dried, shredded) coconut

    Method

    Add the mango flesh to a high-powered jug blender with the lime zest, lime juice and maple syrup. Blitz on high until smooth and thick.

    Spoon into small serving glasses, alternating with the coconut yogurt.

    Scatter the desiccated coconut over the top of each syllabub then serve.

    Tip: The mango purée can be prepared up to 2 days in advance when kept in the fridge, for a quick and easy dessert.

    From Easy Vegan Bible: 200 Easiest Ever Plant-based Recipes by Katy Beskow (£22, Quadrille), out now

Photography: © Luke Albert; © Heidi Swanson; Alan Benson; Brent Parker Jones/Loup/Ren Pidgeon

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