Even as the long summer days begin to wane, our local farmers markets remain wonderfully filled with amazing produce.
What to do with that beautiful bounty? If you’re unsure, let Rick guide the way with our next installments of Farmers Market Mexican.
This time around, we’re away from the Frontera test kitchen and in Rick’s backyard, where he’s cooking up seasonal local foods through a Mexican lens.
Quick side note: These latest four episodes—featuring Greens and Beans Tacos, Squash Blossom Soup, Beer Can Chicken and the Mexican street snack esquites—are part of Rick’s brand new YouTube channel, which has (already!) garnered thousands of subscribers.
Here, we’ll save you the click and post them all below. Enjoy!
If pasilla chiles aren’t on your horizon, you can do the same preparation with ancho chiles, though the flavor won’t be as deep and sonorous. Roasting asparagus (a 400-degree oven is ideal in my opinion) is an alternative to grilling. And replacing olive oil with butter, while not an approach that traditional cooks would likely take, offers an amazing and unexpected flavor.
Today we’re psyched to release the first four episodes of our new web series, Farmers Market Mexican. As you’ve probably guessed by now, this series is all about cooking in the moment, with foods from local farmers, and through a Mexican lens.
We’ll be releasing these throughout the summer and fall. But for now, we’re focused on spring. In these first episodes, Rick tackles:
This soup really celebrates the flavor of spicy mustard greens—and, as a bonus, it's vegan. (You may decide to make it the first time for someone who’s vegan, then find yourself turning to it over and over when there are no vegans at the table—it’s that good). It’s made creamy with potato and enriched with the wonderful flavor of toasted almond.
Sorrel is tricky, in my opinion. When you as much as get it near heat, it wilts into a slippery grayish mass. When you use it raw, all but the smallest leaves can be on the wrong side of tender. Yet I keep coming back to sorrel: Its racy, fresh tang makes me happy just about anywhere I taste it. And classic Mexican roasted tomatillo salsa is the most delicious place I’ve found to weave it in, adding its fresh green lemoniness to an already vibrant condiment. A condiment I find perfect for everything from grilled vegetables to steak tacos to the pan-fried (or, even better, stir-fried) shrimp I’m describing here. It’s spectacular spooned on broiled tofu or roasted or steamed white-flesh sweet potatoes (the ones they call “Japanese” in my farmers market, camote morado in my Mexican market). Or stirred into creamy poblano chile soup. Or mixed with mayonnaise for a dynamic dressing for sturdy greens or potato salad. I have the great chef and cookbook author Cindy Pawlcyn for bringing to light for me this brilliant marriage between tomatillo and sorrel.
This is a salad about textures, a salad that journeys beyond the simple tenderness of young greens or roasted vegetables. It’s a salad that celebrates the resilience of barely softened summer squash and ornery frisee. It offers a voluptuous dressing facing off against ever-crisp jícama. Let me put it this way, it’s not a salad that goes unnoticed.
Though you can make the summer squash ribbons with a vegetable peeler, you should think about getting a mandolin to make thin-slicing a breeze. It doesn’t need to be the couple-hundred-dollar stainless steel one or even one of the bulky-but-less-expensive options that have come on the market in the last few years. You just need something like the small green Japanese mandolin (aka Benriner) that’s sold online for 25 bucks or so. If you want more slicing options, opt for the slightly larger one for 10 or 15 dollars more. With it, you’ll be able to whip out a salad like this (or a hundred other thin-sliced or matchstick-cut preparations) in minutes.
My farmers market has a variety of fresh pimento- or piquillo-like red peppers that are not too hot, so I always think of making this salad when they come into season. If something like that isn’t available, you can use a small red bell pepper (though it won’t be as robust in flavor) or some roasted piquillo pepper in a jar. If squash blossoms are in season, tear a few into ribbons and toss them in—they add an intriguing silkiness to the mix.