Vegetarian al Fresco

A vegetarian feast cooked on a cool mountaintop is the perfect antidote to summer’s swelter.

July 1, 2014

FeaturesIssue 7: July/August 2014Recipes

Summer is synonymous with colorful heirloom tomatoes, the three sisters—corn, squash, and beans— chiles, and gatherings with friends and family. When your friends are generous and love to cook, every gathering is a potluck. The dishes work together as a satisfying meal, but are unmistakably from different kitchens. We are fortunate to live in a climate that makes outdoor grilling a year-round sport, but summer produce makes this season especially exciting. Picnics are the perfect way to celebrate this bounty. With so much good produce filling our larders—and dried native beans to fill our bellies—we decided to make our picnic vegetarian, but you could always throw a locally sourced steak or sausage onto the grill.

Outdoor cooking is a great way to avoid heating up the house in the summer. And, if you’re firing up the grill, you might as well make a lot. Leftover grilled veggies are great chopped up into potato, grain, or pasta salads. Also, grilled squash and eggplant make awesome babaganoush and caponata type dishes. Leftover nopales would be great in a morning omelet or lunch-time sandwich. You bring out the natural sweetness and add a smoky depth to whatever you decide to toss on the grill.

Managing Editor Megan Kimble and Art Director Steve McMackin grab a chair, settle in with a glass of melon seed horchata, and enjoy the view.

Managing Editor Megan Kimble and Art Director Steve McMackin grab a chair, settle in with a glass of melon seed horchata, and enjoy the view.

Our cooking is primarily influenced by what our farmer friends are harvesting. Sometimes, we’re inspired by the first zucchini, with the blossom still attached. This is when we really want to cook the food as simply as possible, if not just tear the tomato into pieces and enjoy it with a salt shaker. Verdolagas and sunflower sprouts grow so lush, we forget about lettuce all summer. Later in the season, we start dreaming up more creative ways to use produce. Late or early, gazpacho is a quick meal that blends together much of summer’s bounty.

Who doesn’t love ice cream? The sweet corn ice cream topped with popcorn, dulce de leche, and peanuts in handmade waffle cones is a rich treat after a light summer meal. The ice cream’s buttery color comes from pasture-raised eggs, and the creamy corn flavor comes from infusing milk with corncobs. Sweet corn often comes in feast or famine waves. We often cut kernels from the cob and freeze for later—for when the summer sunshine does not pour so bountifully.

We decided to bring our summer picnic up to the cool breezes of Mount Lemmon. When it hits triple digits in Tucson, there’s a magical quality about driving up Catalina Highway and passing through different climate zones and biomes. Those blue-dotted ridges in the distance have towering ponderosa pine and Douglas fir trees, which are just as much a part of our home as cacti. Saguaros, as distinctive as they are, benefit from the contrast of our ranges—and so do people, as we leave the sweltering desert floor in search of fresh air and good food.

Mole Aioli

Mole Aioli
Print Recipe
This Mole Aioli is a great addition to many summer sandwiches.
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Mole Aioli
Print Recipe
This Mole Aioli is a great addition to many summer sandwiches.
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients together, and place in the fridge 30 minutes to an hour before serving to enhance the flavor and color of the sauce.
Recipe Notes

Featured image by Melissa Doroquez and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license. 

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Southwest Chimichuri Salsa

Southwest Chimichuri Salsa
Print Recipe
This Southwest Chimichuri Salsa is ideal for salads, meats, or even used as a spread for sandwiches.
Prep Time
10 minutes
Prep Time
10 minutes
Southwest Chimichuri Salsa
Print Recipe
This Southwest Chimichuri Salsa is ideal for salads, meats, or even used as a spread for sandwiches.
Prep Time
10 minutes
Prep Time
10 minutes
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Finely mince the herbs and mix with oil to prevent herbs from oxidizing.
  2. Mince onion, garlic, and capers, and add to mixture.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, and season to taste with red pepper flakes, agave, salt and pepper.
  4. Can be made prior to meal, but herbs will oxidize once lemon juice is added.
  5. Substitute pickled nasturtiums in place of capers.
  6. Use on grilled vegetables and meats, or as a salad dressing.
Recipe Notes

Featured image by Steve Snodgrass and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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Grilled Summer Vegetables

By Laura Schwemm

The grill is the centerpiece of this meal. Okra, mushrooms, green chiles, and yellow and red bell peppers make for a colorful spread on the grill—and tasty one at the table.

The grill is the centerpiece of this meal. Okra, mushrooms, green chiles, and yellow and red bell peppers make for a colorful spread on the grill—and tasty one at the table.

Grilled Summer Vegetables
Print Recipe
The grill is the centerpiece of this meal. Okra, mushrooms, green chiles, and yellow and red bell peppers make for a colorful spread on the grill—and tasty one at the table.
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Grilled Summer Vegetables
Print Recipe
The grill is the centerpiece of this meal. Okra, mushrooms, green chiles, and yellow and red bell peppers make for a colorful spread on the grill—and tasty one at the table.
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Slice vegetables in pieces wide enough to prevent falling through grill grates, or, if small enough, grill whole.
  2. Lightly coat all vegetables with oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place directly on the grill, and minimize turning the vegetables to prevent breakage.
  4. Vegetables continue to cook slightly once removed from the grill, so monitor closely and remove promptly.
  5. Combine both grilled and raw vegetables for an assortment in color, texture, and flavor.
  6. Serve with grilled mesquite flatbread and green chile relish.
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Horchata de Melón

By Amy Valdés Schwemm

While horchata is traditionally made with white rice and milk, squash seeds make for a sweet, nutritious summer treat.

While horchata is traditionally made with white rice and milk, squash seeds make for a sweet, nutritious summer treat.

Horchata de Melón
Print Recipe
While horchata is traditionally made with white rice and milk, squash seeds make for a sweet, nutritious summer treat.
Servings
8 people
Servings
8 people
Horchata de Melón
Print Recipe
While horchata is traditionally made with white rice and milk, squash seeds make for a sweet, nutritious summer treat.
Servings
8 people
Servings
8 people
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Scoop out the insides of a melon, including seeds, strings, and liquid.
  2. Add water (or the equivalent in melon flesh) and liquefy in the blender.
  3. Adding melon flesh will make the drink less like horchata and more like a fresh fruit liquado, but it’s still delicious.
  4. Transfer to a jar and add the cinnamon stick.
  5. Add honey to a little warm water to dissolve, and sweeten horchata to taste.
  6. Refrigerate overnight, if possible.
  7. Strain though a fine mesh strainer.
  8. Stir and pour into glasses over ice, garnished with a little shredded cinnamon.
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Mesquite Flatbread

Mesquite Flatbread
Print Recipe
No need to turn on the oven. No bread baking experience required. This recipe is so forgiving that if you have made bread before, you probably don’t even have to measure the ingredients.
Servings Prep Time
8 people 1 hour
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 people 1 hour
Cook Time
10 minutes
Mesquite Flatbread
Print Recipe
No need to turn on the oven. No bread baking experience required. This recipe is so forgiving that if you have made bread before, you probably don’t even have to measure the ingredients.
Servings Prep Time
8 people 1 hour
Cook Time
10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 people 1 hour
Cook Time
10 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Dissolve yeast in water.
  2. Mix in flours and salt until smooth, adding more flour as needed.
  3. Cover and let rest for an hour.
  4. Knead for 15 minutes, more or less.
  5. Pat a ball of dough or roll with a rolling pin until very thin.
  6. Dust with mesquite flour and put directly on preheated barbecue grill. Cover grill.
  7. After two minutes, check bread quickly (to avoid letting the heat escape).
  8. Cooking time will vary wildly based on the grill, but when puffed or browned on the bottom, flip the flatbread.
  9. Cook very briefly on the other side, remove from the grill and wrap in a tea towel.
  10. Steam from the inside will soften the crispy exterior to a flexible crust.
  11. To cook in the oven, place an inverted cookie sheet or pizza stone on the bottom of the oven or the lowest rack and preheat to 450°.
  12. Toss bread directly on the preheated sheet and cook as above.
Recipe Notes

Featured image by Hadley Paul Garland and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license. 

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Mayocoba Bean Salad

By Philippe Waterinckx

The sweetness of Mayocoba beans pairs perfectly with the pungency of native I’Itoi onions.

The sweetness of Mayocoba beans pairs perfectly with the pungency of native I’Itoi onions.

The Mayocoba bean is a classic Mexican bean, named after the village of Mayocoba, Sinaloa. It has a delicate pale yellow-green skin and, when cooked, tastes sweet and has a firm yet creamy texture. It also goes by the name of Peruano bean because its color is typical of yellow Peruvian beans. Its sweetness pairs beautifully with the pungency of our native I’Itoi onions to make a refreshing cold bean salad. It grows well in our climate and it is one of the beans that “Farmer Frank” Martin grows at Crooked Sky Farms, along with pinto, black turtle, and tepary.

Mayocoba Bean Salad
Print Recipe
The sweetness of Mayocoba beans pairs perfectly with the pungency of native I’Itoi onions.
Servings
4 people
Servings
4 people
Mayocoba Bean Salad
Print Recipe
The sweetness of Mayocoba beans pairs perfectly with the pungency of native I’Itoi onions.
Servings
4 people
Servings
4 people
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Wash and rinse dry beans, then soak overnight in plenty of water. Drain and rinse.
  2. Boil beans in a quart of water for one hour. Drain and let cool.
  3. Gently mix together beans, parsley, and I’Itoi onions.
  4. Meanwhile, make the dressing by placing remaining ingredients in an electric blender or chopper and blend for one minute or until fully emulsified. Gently mix dressing with beans.
  5. Refrigerate for one hour before serving.
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Sweet Corn Ice Cream

By Lori Adkison

All hands are on the deck to make the ice cream.

All hands are on the deck to make the ice cream.

The complete product - the delicious corn cob-based ice cream.

The complete product – the delicious corn cob-based ice cream.

Sweet Corn Ice Cream
Print Recipe
Sweet Corn Ice Cream
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Bring the milk and cream to a simmer in a heavy bottomed saucepan.
  2. Remove from heat and add the corncobs, cover and steep for 1 hour.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat the sugar and eggs together until thickened and pale yellow.
  4. Remove corncobs and bring the milk and cream mixture back to a simmer.
  5. Slowly beat the hot milk into the eggs and sugar.
  6. Pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan and stir over low heat until mixture thickens, being careful not to let the eggs scramble.
  7. Strain the entire mixture into a clean bowl and add vanilla.
  8. Cover and chill completely (at least 4 hours or overnight).
  9. Freeze in your ice cream machine according the manufacturer’s instructions.
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Summer Garden Gazpacho

By Megan Kimble

For a portable, easy gazpacho, serve in small, wide-rimmed mason jars, and garnish with cucumber and tomato.

For a portable, easy gazpacho, serve in small, wide-rimmed mason jars, and garnish with cucumber and tomato.

I call gazpacho “salad in a blender”—healthy and fresh, but with almost no chopping required. Like a summer salad, you can add almost any summer vegetable to gazpacho—blending it up with tomatoes and a generous pour of good olive oil will highlight and brighten its fresh flavors. I start with a base of ripe tomatoes, cucumber, yellow onions, olive oil, and garlic, and build from there. Fresh herbs, like basil or cilantro, are a nice addition, but not necessary. Some recipes call for skinned and cored tomatoes, but I leave the skins on—I think it makes the soup heartier and more flavorful, with the added bonus that I don’t have to stand in my hot kitchen peeling tomatoes.

Summer Garden Gazpacho
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 10 minutes
Passive Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 10 minutes
Passive Time
30 minutes
Summer Garden Gazpacho
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 10 minutes
Passive Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 10 minutes
Passive Time
30 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor.
  2. Blend for one to three minutes, depending on your preferred consistency.
  3. Chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
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Grilled Nopal & Tomatillo Salsa

By Sara Jones

For a hearty and native take on salsa, mix grilled & chopped nopal pads with pureed tomatillos and spices.

For a hearty and native take on salsa, mix grilled & chopped nopal pads with pureed tomatillos and spices.

This recipe is best prepared on the grill, but the veggies could also be roasted under the broiler. Nopales can be purchased at farmers’ markets and grocery stores, but they grow abundantly in most neighborhoods. I use newspaper to hold the pads, when I am both harvesting and trimming. It is a sufficient barrier for the glochids on the spineless varieties of nopales.

Grilled Nopal & Tomatillo Salsa
Print Recipe
For a hearty and native take on salsa, mix grilled & chopped nopal pads with pureed tomatillos and spices.
Servings
4-6 people
Servings
4-6 people
Grilled Nopal & Tomatillo Salsa
Print Recipe
For a hearty and native take on salsa, mix grilled & chopped nopal pads with pureed tomatillos and spices.
Servings
4-6 people
Servings
4-6 people
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Mix a pinch of chile powder, ground oregano, and salt and pepper with oil and vinegar.
  2. Rub mixture onto trimmed and cleaned nopales.
  3. Place tomatillos and nopales over medium-hot area of grill.
  4. Cook, turning once or twice until they begin to brown and blister in spots. Remove from grill and let cool.
  5. Cut cactus pads into small pieces.
  6. Place tomatillos into a blender or food processor, along with onion, jalapeño, garlic, cilantro, and lime juice (or finely chop by hand).
  7. Stir cactus into mixture and taste for salt and lime juice.
  8. Adjust seasoning if needed. Serve with tortilla chips or alongside roasted meat.
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