SALSA DE GUAJES/HUAXIN

As the end of May approaches here in Phoenix, guajes (from the Nahuatl word huaxin), are showing up in the Mexican markets. These tasty little seeds grow on trees indigenous to Mexico, which means they can even be found growing in California and Texas ;)  They are uniquely green and earthy in flavor, with nuances of pepitas, garlic, and pistachios. 

The seeds can be eaten raw, toasted, and even dried, then ground into a meal. Today I am preparing them very simply to be eaten as a salsa, perfect for warm corn tortillas, eggs if you eat them, or scooped into a bowl of homemade frijoles de la olla (beans from the pot).  

Be forewarned: It is time consuming to shell the seeds from the pods, so plan accordingly, it is worth it. 

 

INGREDIENTS

1 large handful of guaje pods, shelled, yielding about 1/2 cup seeds

4 medium size tomatillos, husked and rinsed

2 - 4 serrano chiles, depending on your heat preference (I used 4)

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

sea salt to taste

 

MISE EN PLACE

Using a comal or a cast iron skillet placed on medium-high heat, roast the tomatillos and chiles until slightly charred. This only takes about five minutes. Using tongs, be sure to turn the tomatillos and chiles so they roast evenly.  Put aside on a plate to cool.

Using the same comal/skillet, toast the guaje seeds, stirring constantly so they do not burn. This only takes a minute or so.  (Once they begin to pop, I take them off the heat).  Place on a small plate to cool.

Once the tomatillos are cool to touch, cut into quarters.  Once the chiles are cool to touch, remove the stems. 

Place the tomatillos, chiles, guajes, and garlic powder in a food processor or blender.  Pulse until you have a thick salsa.  If you have a molcajete as I do,  work in batches to grind your ingredients down to desired consistency.  Salt to taste. 

Add-ons: lime juice, cumin, pepitas, onion, jalapeños.

Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz, LLC ©

 

 

 

 

 

PINK GRAPEFRUIT WITH ROASTED CARROTS, AVOCADO, AND MANGO

Citrus is thriving right now in Phoenix, so I decided to pick some grapefruit from my friend's tree, and attempt to use every part of the fruit.  What resulted was a bright, refreshing salad that made me think of being in Miami.

The salad does take a bit of prep work, however, when you are all finished, you'll want to relax, play your favorite Cuban music, and imagine being on vacation.  

SALAD

2 lbs. carrots, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch rounds

1 avocado, peeled and diced into large chunks

1 pink grapefruit, peeled, seeded and segmented

1 mango, peeled and diced into large chunks

¼ C. raw cashews

olive oil

salt and pepper

 

DRESSING

¼ C. + 2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 pink grapefruit, zested and juiced

1 tsp. raw honey or pure maple syrup

¼ C. Italian parsley, minced

1 Tbsp. raw apple cider vinegar

1 ½ tsp. ground coriander seed

salt and pepper to taste

 

MISE EN PLACE

In a 450 degree oven, roast carrot rounds by placing them on a baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil to lightly coat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside in a medium bowl.

Place the olive oil, grapefruit zest, 4 Tbsp. of grapefruit juice, honey or maple syrup, minced parsley, apple cider vinegar, ground coriander, and salt and pepper in a glass jar with a lid.  Shake well.

Pour ½ of the dressing mixture over the roasted carrots and gently stir. Arrange dressed carrots onto a large plate or platter. Add the diced avocado, diced mango, and segmented grapefruit over the carrots.  Finish with reserved dressing and top with raw cashews.

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADD ONS

Substitute other citrus fruit such as tangelos or naval oranges for pink grapefruit.

Substitute peaches or nectarines for mango.

Substitute Marcona almonds for raw cashews.

Add baby mixed greens.

Add thinly sliced kale. 

 

Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz, LLC

HIBISCUS FLOWER AND DELICATA SQUASH SALAD

This fall recipe has everything I like: tart, savory, and sweet flavors all combined in one mouthful. For that tart element, I sautéed steeped hibiscus flowers in a little butter, and then finished them off with a touch of honey.

Hibiscus flowers are readily available in most Mexican food stores, usually sold in bulk as "Flor de Jamaica".  Although not indigenous to Mexico, Flor de Jamaica grows well in the tropic regions, and is now mainly used to make aguas frescas. Mmmmm. 

Side note: it's the sepals, not the petals that are used and sold...so the end result in this recipe is a chewy, tart, sweet morsel of vitamin C! Combined with two indigenous fall ingredients, squash and pepitas (pumpkin seeds), the salad really pops with color and is quite beautiful. *If you are vegan, simply omit the butter and honey. 

SALAD

1 Delicata squash, halved crosswise seeded, and cut into ½ inch slices

½ cup raw pepitas

1 pomegranate, seeded

6 cups spring greens

1 cup dried hibiscus flowers

6 cups water

1 Tbsp. butter

2 tsp. honey

olive oil

salt/pepper

 

DRESSING

Juice of 2 limes

1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

½ cup olive oil

salt/pepper

 

MISE EN PLACE

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, toss squash slices with 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, place on baking sheet in one layer and roast 30 minutes.

Adjust heat to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet, spread raw pepitas in one layer and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast for 5 minutes. Alternatively, you could roast pepitas on a comal or in a heavy bottom skillet.

Bring water to a boil, add hibiscus flowers and remove from heat. Steep for 10 minutes.  Strain flowers and set aside along with 1/4 of the tea.

In a sauté pan, melt 1 Tbsp. butter. Add rehydrated hibiscus flowers and toss to coat. Add your reserved tea to the pan along with 2 tsp. honey and simmer until it has all liquid has been absorbed. Set aside to cool.

Place all dressing ingredients in a small jar and shake well.

In a large bowl add the spring greens, roasted squash, hibiscus flowers, pomegranate seeds, and gently toss with dressing. Season with salt and pepper, top with pepitas.

Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz, LLC ©

QUINOA WITH CHILE MANZANO AND GREENS

When my sister lived in Peru, she would tell me about the simplicity of the local food of the region, stressing how fresh and flavorful it was. Actually, anyone I've talked to that has travelled to Peru, has said that Peruvian food is some of the tastiest food they have ever experienced!  So, it doesn't surprise me that quinoa, and other Andean staples have become so popular over the past ten years. I want to honor this ancestral food, with a simple preparation, using Swiss chard, amaranth leaves, and a little heat from a chile manzano.  If you cannot find amaranth leaves, simply use more chard, or substitute with fresh spinach. 

 

INGREDIENTS

4 garlic cloves, mashed to a paste

1 chile *Manzano, seeded and coarsely minced

6 leaves of red Swiss chard, coarsely chopped, stems cut into 1/4-inch slices

small handful of fresh **amaranth leaves, coarsely chopped

2 cups quinoa, rinsed

4 tablespoons olive oil

salt/pepper

MISE EN PLACE

First, prepare the quinoa:

In a large saucepan, combine quinoa with 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered for about 10 minutes. Drain very well and set aside. 

In a large sauté pan, warm the olive oil on medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until just golden, about 30 seconds. Add the onion and chiles and cook until the onion is soft and slightly golden, about 6 - 7 minutes. Add the Swiss chard and amaranth leaves, and cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in the cooked quinoa. If you have any leftovers, it tastes even better the next day! 

Sinchi wiksayuq, kusi sunquyuq   

"Full stomach, happy heart" - Quechua Proverb

 

 

*chile manzanos can be found at many Mexican grocery stores. 

**Look for amaranth leaves at your local farmer's market or Asian grocery stores. The amaranth I used for this recipe was Hopi Red Amaranth from my backyard. 

 

Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz, LLC ©