Watermelon and Queso Fresco with Choco Chipotle Tomatillo Salsa

I don’t know how this recipe creeped into my head.  I think I was reading about the typical feta/watermelon combos that appear every Summer, and simultaneously studying a tamal book.  The sauces, cheese, and watermelon soon coalesced into one unstoppable urge to cook.  The sauce is spicy, the cheese is mild and sweet, and the watermelon is refreshing.

Watermelon, Queso Fresco, Chipotle Salsa

Watermelon, Queso Fresco, Chipotle Salsa

How you present this dish will depend on the type of queso fresco you buy, as well as the size of the watermelon.  You can slice half moons of each the cheese and watermelon, and pair them together to form a circle.  Another alternative is to slice the watermelon in wedges, and place on top of a full circle of cheese (pictured).  If you get a local queso fresco, which tend to be smaller in size than the commercial brands, you can slice it in smaller rounds and place a few around the watermelon wedge.  The idea is to make the dish beautiful and colorful.

You will need:
Choco-Chipotle Salsa (below)
1 watermelon ( you will use very little)
1 12-ounce package queso fresco
Toasted pepitas

Slice the end off the watermelon.  Carefully slice a second round off the end in a perfect circle.  Cut the round into 8 wedges.
Slice the cheese horizontally into 4 large circles.
Pour the sauce in the bottom of 4 dishes and smooth it out across the whole plate.  Place the cheese on top of the salsa, then place a wedge of watermelon on top of the cheese.  Garnish with the pepitas, and serve with an extra plate of watermelon.

Makes 4 appetizers.

For Choco-Chipotle Tomatillo Salsa:
Olive oil
½ cup white onion, medium dice
10-12 tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and roughly chopped
2 cloves roasted garlic
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1 chipotle in adobo + 1 teaspoon brine
3 pieces Mexican drinking chocolate bars
1 small handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

Heat up 1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium sized sauté pan.  Add the onion and sauté until translucent and lightly browned.  Add the tomatillos, along with a large pinch of salt, and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the tomatillos are soft and cooked through.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Blend the onion and tomatillo with the remaining ingredients until completely combined.
Pour back into the sauté pan to keep warm.


Taquitos con Hoja de Ajonjoli

My least favorite Mexican food is taquitos.  Taquitos are tortillas stuffed with chicken that are rolled up and deep fried.  We usually top them with crema mexicana and shredded lettuce.  Since I am a healthy eater, I really don’t like eating fried food.  The chicken inside also always seems too dry for my taste.

This recipe takes the same idea of a rolled taco, but uses a Sesame Leaf instead of a tortilla.   These taquitos are truly fusion cuisine!  They make a great low-fat summer appetizer with a lot of flavors.   The ceviche uses lime and lemon to “cook” the salmon, but then also combines miso, scallions, and tahini to take it other places.  You can find Sesame leaves at some farmers markets, or frozen in Asian supermarkets.  I love their minty flavor, that is not so overpowering, but just enough to brighten up this ceviche.I love their minty flavor, that is not so overpowering, but just enough to brighten up this ceviche.

Sesame leaves are rich in calcium, manganese, copper, magnesium, and iron. Sesame seeds are a very good source of calcium; they actually have more calcium than milk.  If you are avoiding dairy, as we all should, definitely include sesame in your diet.  Buen Provecho!

Taquitos con Hoja de Ajonjoli
For Salmon Ceviche Marinade:
1 8-ounce wild Alaskan salmon, skinned
Lemon and/or Lime juice to cover, about 3 total
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon miso
1 tablespoon olive oil or sesame oil

Mix together the lemon and lime juice, miso, and garlic in a non-reactive container.
Cube the salmon in small dice and add to the marinade.  Let the salmon rest for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator.

To finish:
12-16 sesame leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallion (white and pale green parts)
½ teaspoon finely minced Thai bird chile or chile Serrano
1 sprig of mint, finely chopped
Some cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tahini
½ teaspoon sesame seeds



Place a dollop of the mixture on each leaf and wrap up, starting from narrow end.  Secure by carefully pushing the pointy stem through the leaf.
Note: You can also spread a small amount of tahini on the leaf, then dollop with the salmon mixture, without mixing the tablespoon into the salmon ceviche preparation.

Makes 12-16 taquitos.

Apricot Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

Chipotle goes really well with peaches and apricots.  Everywhere I look, people are talking about barbecues and grilling, so I thought I would come up with a Mexican version of an American staple.  Feel free to add more Chipotle en Adobo, and if you add to much, you can always balance it out with more molasses or sugar.  When I made this I poured it over some fresh flounder tacos (that is what is local to me).  I topped the tacos with some sprouts for crunch, avocado, and red onion.  They were delicious.  Let me know if you try it on something spectacular!

Apricot Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

Apricot Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

Apricot Chipotle Barbecue Sauce
2 tablespoons sunflower seed oil
1 white onion, sliced
3 cups apricots, pitted and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 ounce tequila
1 tablespoon chipotle en adobo
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup stewed tomatoes with their juices
3 tablespoons molasses
½ cup apple cider vinegar

In a medium sized pot, heat up a few tablespoons of the oil.  Add the onion and cook until cooked through and translucent.  Add the garlic and apricots and stir.  Pour in the tequila and as it sizzles, scrape up the browned bits in the bottom of the pot.  Pour in the vinegar and chipotle and bring to a simmer.
Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, and molasses let simmer lightly for about 30 minutes.  Cool enough to put in the food processor, and process until smooth.  Pass the sauce through a sieve back into the pot and reduce until thick and flavorful.  Season well with salt, and adjust with sugar if necessary.
Makes about 2 cups.