Meet the tomatillo–this small, plump, green fruit was a favorite of the Aztecs and stars in any number of Mexican dishes today. Its tart flavor is worlds apart from the taste of tomatoes, but is just as juicy and unforgettable. This episode will show you where to find tomatillos, how to cook with them, and tips and tricks for creating amazing dishes.
SALSA VERDE WITH AVOCADO AND CHEESE
Salsa Verde con Aguacate y Queso Fresco
Makes about 2 cups
1 lb tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed
1 garlic clove
1 or 2 chiles serranos (can adjust for desired spiciness level)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
2 tbsp white onion, roughly chopped
1 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt, or to taste
1/2 lb queso fresco diced, or can use farmer’s cheese or mild feta instead
1 ripe Mexican avocado, halved, pitted and sliced or cut into chunks
Warm corn tortillas or tortilla chips
Place tomatillos in a sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the tomatillos are soft and mushy, but not coming apart, about 10 minutes.
Place the tomatillos, garlic, chiles serranos (add one by one to taste for spiciness desired and adjust the heat as you go), cilantro, onion and salt in the blender. Blend until smooth. You may also mash it all up in a molcajete.
Serve in a bowl or molcajete, along with the queso fresco and avocado slices. Offer warm corn tortillas or tortilla chips on the side.
This salsa may be used to spoon on top of thousands of things; including tacos, quesadillas, eggs in the morning, or grilled meats.
This episode shows us how to pick and prime the perfect Mexican avocado, then walks us through three great recipes. As a bonus, she learns how to make an avocado martini from one of the top bars in Mexico City.
AVOCADO & HEARTS OF PALM CHOP CHOP SALAD
Ensalada de Aguacate y Palmitos
Serves 4 to 6
3 ripe Mexican avocados, or about 2 pounds, pulp cut into large chunks
14 oz hearts of palm, or about 1 1/3 cups, drained, rinsed and thickly sliced
1 cup corn kernels, from 2 large freshly cooked ears of corn or thawed and cooked from frozen
1 tbsp red onion, chopped
6 oz cherry tomatoes, or about 1 cup, whole or halved according to your preference
Vinaigrette dressing (see below)
3 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp lime juice
1/4 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp brown sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp safflower oil
To make the vinaigrette, pour the vinegar and lime juice in a small bowl. Add the oregano, salt, sugar, and black pepper. Pour the oil in a slow stream, whisking with a whisk or fork to emulsify. The vinaigrette can be made a day ahead of time and refrigerated, just emulsify before using.
To toast the pumpkin seeds, place them in an already hot, small saute pan set over medium heat. Stir often, being careful that they don’t burn; until you start to hear popping sounds (similar to popcorn) and they being to acquire a nice tan, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and place in a bowl.
In a bowl, gently mix the avocado chunks, hearts of palm, corn kernels, cherry tomatoes and red onion with the vinaigrette. Sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds and serve.
The dish can be served as a main salad with a side of toast or pita bread. Or serve it as a side salad to grilled chicken, fish or meat.
PEPITO: STEAK & AVOCADO SANDWICH
Makes 4 to 6 generous tortas or sandwiches of about 4″ length
1 1/2 lbs flank steak
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or pressed
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/8 tsp black pepper
Pinch of sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil
4 teleras, bolillos, petite baguettes, or baguettes sliced into 3 to 4 inches and cut in half
6 ounces Monterey jack cheese, muenster or mild cheddar
1 cup gucamole (see below)
1 cup refried beans (store bought or homemade)
Marinate the flank steak with the soy sauce, olive oil, Dijon mustard, garlic, rosemary and black pepper. You may marinate it anywhere from 1/2 hour to overnight in the refrigerator. Remove the meat from the refrigerator and sprinkle with salt when you are ready to cook it.
Preheat the grill pan or grill at medium-high heat. Once it is hot, place the meat and let it cook anywhere from 4 to 5 minutes per side, depending on how well done you want the meat. You can drizzle any extra marinade right over the top of the meat while it cooks. For medium, its closer to 4 minutes per side, for over medium, closer to 5 minutes per side. Remove the meat from the heat and place it on a cutting board. Let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes, slightly covered. Thinly slice across the grain.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Slice the baguettes, teleras or bolillos in half lengthwise and place in a baking sheet. Spread about 3 tablespoons of refried beans on the bottom half of each bread. Cover with about 3 to 4 tablespoons shredded cheese. Place in the oven and let the bread crisp and the cheese melt, for about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the oven.
Top the pepitos with a generous amount of the thinly sliced meat and 3 to 4 tablespoons of the guacamole. Place the tops on top! Eat while hot.
Makes over a cup
2 ripe Mexican avocados, halved, pit removed, meat scooped out and mashed
3 scallions, about 2 tbsp, rinsed, tops removed, white and light green parts thinly sliced
2 tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro leaves, optional
3 tbsp jalapeno or serrano chile, more or less to taste, minced (seeding is optional)
2 tbsp lime juice, freshly squeezed
Salt to taste
Gently mix ingredients in a bowl or molcajete and serve. It can be prepared up to 12 hours in advance if covered and stored in the refrigerator.
AVOCADO AND COCONUT ICE CREAM
Helado de Aguacate y Coco
3 large ripe Mexican avocados, about 2 pounds, halved, pitted, pulp scooped out (about 3 cups)
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
3/4 cups sugar, more to taste
1/4 cup dried shredded coconut, lightly toasted, optional for garnish, or toasted almonds, pine nuts or pistachios
Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit and scoop the pulp out. Cut the pulp into chunks and place it in the blender or food processor. Add the coconut milk, sugar, and lime juice, and puree until smooth.
Process the avocado-coconut puree in you ice cream maker, or ice cream ball, according to the manufacturers instructions. Place in the freezer for a couple hours for firmer ice cream. If you don’t have an ice cream maker you can serve it as a cold mousse, or you can also freeze it and serve it as ice cream, but it will be a little less fluffy. But its still good!
Lightly toast the shredded coconut on a small saute pan set over medium-low heat, stirring constantly so it does not burn. It will take less than a minute. Once the coconut becomes fragrant and acquires a tan, remove and set aside. Sprinkle over the ice cream.
Martini de Aguacate
Pour all of the ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake it and strain into chilled martini glasses.
Guacamole en Trozos
2 ripe Mexican avocados, halved, pitted and pulp cut into chunks or roughly mashed
3 tbsp white onion, finely chopped
1 chile serrano or jalapeño, or to taste, minced (seeding is optional)
2 tbsp cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
3 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tsp salt, more or less to taste
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and serve!
I’ve been wanting to write this post for days. Every time I try, it feels like hundreds of flowers bloom in my head, clouding my thoughts. My tongue gets tied too. Which is not common. I usually don’t hesitate to express my thoughts.
So. pushing aside the flowers and the thing with the tongue…
Dearest friends, here’s the news: if you like Mexican food, if you like Public Television, if you like my approach to cooking, then… I hope you’ll like to hear that Pati’s Mexican Table is premiering on National Public Television, this spring.
Here is a short PREVIEW (!)
I can tell you so many things about how the series came together and why I am so passionate about it. It’s been a fascinating journey: radically switching careers, launching the Culinary Program at the Institute, starting the blog, and now, embarking on the TV series.
Ham and Cheese Sincronizadas with Flour Tortillas
Sincronizadas de Jamon con Queso
12 flour tortillas
Safflower or corn oil, optional
½ lb Mexican manchego or Chihuahua cheese, monterey jack, muenster, or light cheddar grated
½ lb or about 6 to 12 slices ham or turkey
Mexican avocado slices, optional
Salsa of your choice
Heat a sauté pan or a comal over medium heat. You may add a light coat of oil to the pan if desired. Top as many tortillas as will fit into the pan or comal with a generous amount of shredded cheese and a slice of ham or turkey. Cover with a second tortilla. Toast until the bottom tortillas begin to achieve a nice tan and some freckles and the cheese begins to melt. Flip over and toast the other side. I like to wait until the cheese oozes out and crisps a little! Transfer to a plate and slice in half or quarters.
Serve with a salsa of your choice and slices of ripe avocado on the side.