Southwest Summer Salad

Here is a spicy, savory meal that makes great use of prime summer produce — corn, tomatoes, lettuce, and avocados — in one delicious salad.  This is a crowd pleasing superstar, as it’s dairy and gluten free, vegan, deliciously nutritious, and easy to do much of the prep in advance.

Southwest Summer Salad

This salad uses one of my prior recipes, Spicy Tofu Crumbles.  If you would prefer, you may substitute grilled chicken breast for the tofu crumbles.  The quick to make dressing can be adjusted for spiciness depending on your preference.  (for Hannah & Caleb) Enjoy!

Southwest Summer Salad
(all quantities are dependent on number of servings needed)

romaine lettuce, washed and cut
tomatoes, rough chop large tomatoes, or halve cherry tomatoes
fresh sweet corn – kernels cut off cobs, sauteed briefly in a little olive oil, then cooled to room temp.
avocado, peeled and diced
bell pepper, chopped
fresh cilantro, chopped
pinto beans, cooked and cooled
toasted pepitas
Spicy Tofu Crumbles
Chipotle Lime Dressing (recipe below)

Assemble all ingredients in a large shallow bowl.  Dress the salad just before serving.  Add tortilla chips for extra crunch.

Chipotle Lime Dressing
3 TB fresh squeezed lime juice
6 TB extra virgin olive oil
1/2 to 1 tsp. chipotle powder (depending on how spicy your like dressing)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed

Lime Chipotle Slaw

If you’re getting some beautiful cabbages in your CSA box, or spy some nice ones in the produce market, I have a great winter salad – a fresh twist on coleslaw.

Lime Chipotle Slaw

Lime Chipotle Slaw

I make this one with tart lime juice and spicy chiptole powder.  It’s crunchy and tangy — and perfect with grilled fish or chicken.  Enjoy!

chipotle, mayo, cabbage, and lime

chipotle, mayo, cabbage, and lime

Lime Chipotle Slaw

1 LB cabbage
1 lime, zest and juice
1/2 tsp. chipotle powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/3 cup mayonnaise

Slice the cabbage fine.  I use the 4mm slicing blade on my food processor.  Juice and zest the lime.  Mix all ingredients and serve.  For a make-ahead salad, just mix all ingredients except cabbage.  Dress shredded cabbage just before serving.

Cilantro Garlic Lime Sauce

At once a dressing and a dipping sauce, this green concoction is fresh, tangy, fragrant and irresistibly full of cilantro and lime.
Cilantro Garlic Lime Sauce bottleI’ve made many versions of this sauce to pour on grilled steak, but decided to give it a try on grilled chicken and with cooked rice.  It was fabulous on both.  It would also pair well with grilled vegetables or shrimp.
Cilantro Garlic Lime Sauce chicken
Cilantro Garlic Lime Sauce ingredientsThis sauce makes a great dressing for a salad with romaine, tomatoes, and chunks of avocado.  An immersion blender makes quick work of this sauce.  Store in the fridge for up to a week.  For Calvin, my best sous chef.  Enjoy!

Cilantro Garlic Lime Sauce
makes about one cup sauce

1 big bunch fresh cilantro, rinsed and rough chopped, about 2 cups lightly packed
3 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
juice and zest of two fresh limes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp. sea salt
Habanero hot sauce*, to taste (Tabasco may be substituted)

Use a blender to whirl all ingredients until vibrant green and smooth, about 30 seconds.  Taste for acid/salt balance.  This is an important step.  Working with fresh ingredients means that measurements of key ingredients will need to be adjusted to suit your taste and the ingredients you are using.


*note:  To give this sauce some kick I used 15 shakes of a killer good house made habanero sauce called Xni Pec from Cafe Capistrano in Half Moon Bay, CA.  Its intense floral note is retained because it’s not heat processed.  This sauce is amesomely addictive.  The habanero puree in the photo above also works nicely.

Lime-Chipotle Chicken

It’s winter in California, which means spicy, tart, ripe limes.  This recipe is my go-to marinade for chicken thighs.
lime chipotle chicken 2lime chipotle chicken 1It stars a threesome of flavor all-stars:  lime, garlic, and chipotle.  These three are bold individually, but there is special magic when they get together in this marinade.  Whip up some Lime-Chipotle chicken, and then use a few more of those juicy limes in a Margarita.  Even if it’s cold and dark where you live, you’re sure to have an evening of warmth with this on the menu.

Lime-Chipotle Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
juice and zest of two limes
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
1/2 to 1 tsp. chipotle powder (depending on how spicy your like your chicken)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 cloves garlic, pressed

At least two hours prior to cooking, mix together all the ingredients in a 1 gallon zippered plastic bag.  Press the air out of the bag so that the marinade and the chicken are in good contact.  Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Heat your grill, grillpan, or frying pan until hot.  Take the chicken out of the marinade, but don’t worry about too much of the liquid clinging to the chicken.  Discard remaining marinade.

Grill or fry the chicken until done.  How to tell when it’s done?  The meat should tender, and not rubbery.  Any juices that come out should be clear rather than pink.  Chicken thighs take longer to cook than chicken breast meat of the same thickness.

Serve with a couple of lime wedges on the side.  Add cooked rice and a salad for an easy, tasty dinner.

Summer Corn Salad

Sweet corn!  Tender sweet corn is one of my favorite treats in summer.  It is at its peak at my market, along with deep red tomatoes and creamy-rich avocados.
Summer Corn SaladHere is my recipe for a simple summer treat featuring sweet corn in the starring role.  I serve it as a salad or side dish, depending on what else is on my menu.  This is a fabulous picnic dish, as it’s easy to make ahead of time and tastes best at room temp.

Summer Corn Salad

4 ears fresh sweet corn, kernels cut off the cobs
2 large ripe tomatoes*, cut into bite sized chunks
2 large avocados, cut into bite sized chunks
1/4 cup good quality olive oil, divided
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
sea salt
1/2 tsp. chipotle powder
2 limes – juiced

Heat a large saute pan over high heat until medium hot.  Add 2 TB olive oil to pan, then the sweet corn kernels, and saute just until the kernels begin to turn from opaque to semi-transparent.  They may take on a bit of brown at the edge of the pan — this is good and adds flavor to the salad.  Total cooking time should be 5 – 6 minutes.  Turn the corn out into a bowl and cool until room temperature.

Using a fine rasp, zest one of the limes.  Then juice both of the limes.  In the bottom of a large bowl mix together the remaining olive oil, the lime juice and zest, about 1/2 tsp. sea salt, and chipotle powder.  To this dressing add the corn, avocado chunks, tomato chunks, and cilantro.  Gently toss, taking care not to mash the avocado.  Adjust seasoning.  Serve cool or at room temperature.

*feel free to use cherry tomatoes, halved, if you prefer  – or if that’s whats growing in your garden.

Salt-preserved citrus

I have a beautiful Persian lime tree in my back yard, and a good friend has a super productive Meyer lemon.  Two months ago my lime tree was covered with fruit, and my friend brought over a grocery bag filled with lemons.  So, instead of lemonade, I made salt-preserved lemons and limes.  This is an old tradition in parts of the middle east.  The citrus gets soft and mellow after a month or so in the fridge.  The resulting preserved citrus has a bright delicious citrus flavor and the natural pectin in the rind adds unctuousness to recipes.

Kosher salt – up to 1 cup per quart of preserved citrus

lots of high quality lemons or limes, scrubbed

glass quart jar(s) with new lids

Cut the fruit almost all the way into quarters, leaving one end intact.  You can quarter the fruit if you like — it’s up to you.   Put a couple tablespoons of salt in the the bottom of a clean, sterilized, glass quart jar.

Next, rub salt all over the citrus and put the salt covered citrus in the jar.  Don’t be shy with the salt!  Really coat the citrus in salt.  Repeat with more fruit, and pack them in.  The juice of the citrus will squish out — this is what you want.  You will end up with the lemon or lime juice totally covering the fruit and a layer of undissolved salt in the bottom of the jar.  Add more freshly squeezed juice to cover the fruit, if needed, to minimize the air layer at the top.

The salt will dissolve over the next couple of days.  My photo above is taken right after I made the preserved citrus, so you can see the salt at the bottom.   It’s OK if you still have some undissolved salt after a while.  Put the lids on the jars and place at room temp for two days, giving the jars a turn or shake a couple times to help redistribute the salt.   Don’t open the jars during this rest time.

Put the jars, unopened, in the fridge for at least three weeks.  Then — enjoy!  They will last in the fridge for around 6 months.

Here’s a link to a chicken dish in which to use preserved lemon.  When you use the preserved citrus, rinse them and discard the pulp if you want.  I’ll post a recipe I created to use my preserved lime soon.  SO yummy.