The weather has started to transition from cool rainy days to warm sun-soaked days and the local produce seems to be reflecting this change. Piles of late spring carrots, radishes, and turnips lay next to summery heaps of white corn, avocados, and sweet peppers. Thanks to Capay Organic farms, my fridge is brimming with ears of corn begging to be grilled and root veggies that deserve to be treated more delicately than roasted in the oven with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. The range of ingredients certainly makes cooking especially
Because nothing is better than a margarita in the sun (except maybe a margarita on the beach in Carmel-by-the-Sea), friends came over to make tequila and mezcal cocktails. Drawing almost entirely on the contents of my CSA box, I whipped up the usual favorite parmesan roasted broccoli with garlic and lemon zest, grilled corn on the cob lathered in tequila lime butter and sea salt and sprinkled with lime zest (husks removed and grilled directly on the stove!), green leaf lettuce and avocado tossed with an unbelievable carrot ginger dressing, and gorgeous crisp, shaved radish, carrot, and fennel with lemony quinoa.
I was surprised at how much I (and my far-from-vegetarian dinner guests) loved the quinoa salad. The key to the dish is to thinly slice the radish and carrot with a vegetable peeler or mandoline, shave the fennel with a box grater, then place the shaved veggies in a bowl of ice water and refrigerate for about 45 minutes until they are crisp! The quinoa is tossed with bright lemon, lemon zest, canola oil, sea salt, and pepper and topped with the crispy vegetables. The result is a protein-packed, light refreshing dish with crunchy shaved vegetables that goes surprisingly well with a margarita made with homemade jalapeno-infused tequila.
Tequila lime butter grilled corn
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp tequila
1 lime juiced
zest of 1 lime
1/8 tsp red cayenne pepper
freshly ground pepper
2 ears of corn
Remove husks and silk. Rinse under cold water and use a towel to remove remaining stray silk. In a small bowl, combine melted butter, tequila, and lime juice. Blend thoroughly, season with lime zest, red cayenne pepper, sea salt and pepper to taste. If using a gas stove, grill corn directly on flame using long tongs until all sides reach desired color. If using an electric stove (like me), place a rack over the burner and set the corn on it. Using tons, rotate until all sides reach desired color. It will pop, don't be alarmed! Remove from heat, brush generously with tequila lime butter and serve immediately. Pass extra tequila lime butter, salt and pepper at the table.
Shaved radish, carrot, fennel with lemony quinoa (adapted from Food & Wine)
4 radishes, tops and roots trimmed
3 small carrots, tops and roots trimmed peeled
1 medium fennel bulb, cored
1 cup quinoa
3 cups of water
1 lemon juiced, about 2 tbsp or more to taste (I used 1.5 large lemons)
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup canola oil
extra lemon wedges for the table
Fill a medium bowl with ice and cold water. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the carrot lengthwise into ribbons. Use either a mandoline or vegetable peeler and thinly slice the radish into rounds. Use a mandoline slicer or box grater to coarsely grate the fennel. As you work, transfer the sliced vegetables into the ice water. Refrigerate the vegetables in the ice bath for about 45 minutes until crisp.
Prepare quinoa. Bring 3 cups of water to a bowl in a medium saucepan. Add 1/2 tsp salt once water is boiling. Add quinoa and bring water to a boil again. Cover and reduce heat to low, cook for 15 minutes. Drain quinoa and return to saucepan, away from heat. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and replace lid. Let sit for 10 minutes. Dress quinoa with lemon juice, lemon zest, and canola oil. Season generously with sea salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Transfer quinoa to a serving bowl.
Drain vegetables from ice bath and dry in a salad spinner. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the shaved veggies and season lightly with sea salt. Top quinoa with vegetables and serve immediately passing extra lemon wedges at the table.