Ginger Pickled Watermelon Rind

Don’t leave behind that watermelon rind!

Watermelons are a low water footprint fruit, using around 50 gallons of water to grow per pound. But a lot of that weight is in the watermelon rind. So, here’s a drought friendly, delicious recipe that will use the rind and extend your summer by months!

watermelon2

Pre-Pickling!

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Pickled Watermelon Rind

Yield: 10 cups

 

1 8-pound watermelon

1½ cups distilled white vinegar

4½ cups water

¾ cup granulated sugar

2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch rounds (1/2 cup)

1 2-inch cinnamon stick

½ Serrano pepper

3 whole cloves

5 green cardamom pods, crushed

½ vanilla bean, sliced open and seeds scraped with back of a knife

1 tablespoon kosher salt

10 whole black peppercorns

 

Cut watermelon in half and scoop out watermelon (yum!) leaving approximately ¼ to ½-inch of flesh on the rind.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel off the green outer layer of the watermelon.

Cut watermelon rind into 1-inch pieces. You should have approximately 10 cups.

Place all ingredients (except diced watermelon rind) in a large pot and heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has melted.

Add watermelon rind, stir and remove from heat.

Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Once cooled to room temperature, transfer to a bowl and place a plate or an inverted saucepan lid over watermelon to submerge the pieces in the liquid.

For maximum flavor, refrigerate for 24 hours before eating.

Yellow Peach and Basil Shrub

I declare this the summer of shrubs! Not the lawn “decoration.” No, the delicious, refreshing and fizzy fruit/vinegar drink that’s popping up at coffee shops and restaurants around the country – a call back to a common drink popular during America’s colonial era.

Simple to make and a perfect way to  store your summer fruit for months on end, here’s our recipe (yup – it’s another Drought Friendly Recipe from me and Super Sous) for a Yellow Peach and Basil Shrub.

 

Yellow Peach and Basil Shrub

Yellow Peach and Basil Shrub

Yield: 28-ounces shrub mix

 

1½ pounds ripe yellow peaches, pit discarded, diced large (3 large peaches)

1 cup organic granulated sugar

1 tablespoon orange zest

½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

30 medium basil leaves, bruised with your fingers

½ cup white wine vinegar, plus more to taste

 

Add diced peaches and sugar to a large bowl. Mash the peaches with a potato masher until mostly pulverized and the sugar is fully dissolved. Stir in the orange zest, orange juice and bruised basil leaves.

Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature for 2 hours, stirring once, after 1 hour.

Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and strain the mixture, pressing on the solids with a spatula to extract as much liquid as possible.

(Use the solids in your next smoothie!)

Stir in the vinegar. This beautiful liquid is your “shrub” mix.

Transfer shrub mix into a bottle or jar, close to seal, and store in the refrigerator until ready to enjoy.

Serve one part peach shrub mix for every four parts sparkling water.

Garnish with basil leaves and a few thin slices of peach.

Note: You can make it “adult” by adding a shot of alcohol, like whiskey or vodka.

Drought Friendly Elote: Mexican-style Grilled Corn

OMG. This recipe is so delicious. Need proof? Super Sous and I grilled 7 ears of corn when developing this recipe and devoured them all within 15 minutes. In fact, Super Sous exclaimed, “this is the best grilled corn dish I’ve ever had!” when all was said and gone, I mean done.

Elote or the Mexican-style street food version of corn is common to see here, being sold, in LA. Vendors in parks or on street corners set up camp with their makeshift grills, tub of mayonnaise, chili powder and cojita cheese, serving the sweet and savory cobs to eager customers.  It’s pretty fantastic; a pleasure on the taste buds.

Since Super Sous and I have been creating Drought Friendly Recipes, we realized that we could still enjoy this creamy crunchy corn on the cob, sans egg and cheese by doing a swap out with soymilk aioli (aioli is normally made with an egg, but soymilk acts as an emulsifier) and using a sprinkle of nutritional yeast for the cheesy creaminess. Add to that a special spice mix blend we created (take that, chili powder!) and fresh chopped cilantro and you have a winner.

This recipe serves 12, but you may need to double or triple the batch. Trust us. It’s addictive.

 

corn shucked

Shucked corn with one layer of husk left

corn grilled

Grilled corn

Drought Friendly Aioli

Vegan Aioli

Elote with Aioli

Slathering on the aioli

Elote finished

Time to dig in

Drought Friendly Elote: Mexican-style Grilled Corn

Yield: 12 servings

 

12 ears of corn, whole and unshucked

Vegan Aioli (recipe below)

Elote Spice Mix (recipe below)

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 cup packed roughly chopped cilantro

 

Preheat your grill to medium-high.

Shuck the corn, leaving 1 layer of husk covering the cob. Cut off the silk at top of corn.

Place the corn on the grill, close the lid, and grill for a total of 15 minutes, rotating the corn ⅓ turn every 5 minutes, until the corn is cooked and the husks are slightly charred.

Remove the corn from the grill, carefully shuck the corn (hot!). Brush with aioli, sprinkle some of the spice mix and yeast on the corn and top with cilantro.

Serve, enjoy, repeat.

 

Drought Friendly Vegan Aioli

Yield: 1 cup

 

1 large clove garlic, pressed (1/4 teaspoon)

3½ teaspoons lime juice

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup organic soy milk

2/3 cup organic grapeseed oil

 

Mix all ingredients except oil in a small container or bowl with high sides. (I used the glass container that goes with my French Press.

Using an immersion blender, blend all ingredients thoroughly.

Keep the immersion blender a bit raised in the container, to where the liquid is churning vigorously. Slowly stream the oil into the vortex of the churning liquid. Don’t rush this step. The slower the oil stream, the better. The liquid will thicken and form to the consistency of mayonnaise. Refrigerate until use.

 

Elote Spice Mix

1 tablespoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon chipotle powder

1¼ teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ancho chile powder

 

Mix ingredients together in a small bowl.

Strawberry Tomato Gazpacho

It’s summer which means tomatoes and strawberries are starting to overflow farmers market stands (among other delicious fruits). Summer also means plenty of potlucks, parties and, of course, delicious July 4th celebrations.

Super Sous and I have come up with the perfect dish for your summer events (whether that means dinner for 2 or 20!). It’s not only easy to make, refreshing and cooling, it’s another in our series of Drought Friendly Recipes, which makes it a win-win!

It’s also quite a stunner and… no oven needed.

Strawberry Gazpacho - Strawberries

Hulled Strawberries

Strawberry Gazpacho - Tomatoes

Ripe Red and Yellow Tomatoes

Strawberry Gazpacho - Overhead

Strawberry Tomato Gazpacho

Yield: 6 cups

 

2 pounds strawberries, hulled

1 pound ripe red tomatoes, quartered

1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced large

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil, divided

½ teaspoon red wine vinegar

6 drops chipotle Tabasco sauce (or your favorite hot sauce)

1¼ teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided, plus more to taste

2 small shallots, peeled and diced small

4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1/3 pound yellow tomatoes, diced small

30 small fresh basil leaves, plus more to taste

18 basil flowers, optional

 

Add the strawberries, tomatoes, red bell pepper, 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, red wine vinegar, chipotle Tabasco, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper to a blender.

Beginning with the slowest speed, blend until a smooth consistency is achieved. Strain through a fine mesh colander into a bowl, pressing the liquid against the mesh with the back of a rubber spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Stir to combine the diced shallot and the balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Let rest, undisturbed, for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, stir in the 2 remaining teaspoons grapeseed oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper and the diced yellow tomato.

When ready to serve, remove the soup from the refrigerator and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Spoon the soup into bowls, top with a spoonful of the shallot/yellow tomato vinaigrette and garnish with basil leaves and flowers.

Veggie Burger

It’s summertime and that means burgers! Therefore, for our next Drought Friendly Recipe, we bring you a delicious, hearty and umami packed (thank you, mushrooms) veggie burger. This recipes makes thirteen 1/4 pound burgers. Now, if it were beef we were using, that would mean a serious water footprint. According to the LA Times, it takes 1,799 gallons of water to make 1 pound of beef. So, again, if this recipe were using beef, it would take a little over 5,800 gallons of water to produce thirteen 1/4 pound burgers. Good thing this recipe is comprised of veggies and grains. When you calculate the water footprint of this recipe as is, it comes out to something around 800 gallons of water or around 1/7 of the water used for a beef burger. So, how about swapping in this recipe for your next burger night? Bonus: you can make the burger mix in advance and then cook the pattys off when the time comes. Enjoy!

veggie onions

Spreading out the caramelized onion on a parchment-lined sheet tray to cool

veggie burger mushroom

1/2 batch of quartered mushrooms ready for pulsing

mushrooms chopped veggie burger

Good texture for the mushrooms

mushroom onions veggie burger

Spreading the roasted mushrooms over the cooled caramelized onions

rice lentil veggie burger

Rice/Bulgur/Lentil mixture

spices veggie burger

Spices!

veggie burger

Brushing the burgers with oil before putting them in the pan

Veggie Burger Overhead

Time to eat.

Drought Friendly Veggie Burgers

Yield: 13 burgers

 

¼ cup grapeseed oil, divided, plus more for brushing

1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced small (2 cups)

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

20 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped roughly (1/2 cup)

24-ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided, plus more to taste

4 cups vegetable stock

¼ cup white jasmine rice

½ cup black (beluga) lentils

¾ cup bulgur

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, undrained

1 cup panko

1 tablespoon dried Greek oregano

½ teaspoon chipotle powder

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons vegan worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon ground fennel

1 teaspoon ground cumin

The Fixin’s:

13 burger buns

13 large slices tomato

Lettuce (your choice!)

Pickled shallots

Organic ketchup, no question

Dijon mustard, gotta’ have mustard too

 

Place an oven rack to the upper position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add the onion, 2 tablespoons oil and ¼ teaspoon salt to a medium (3½ quart) saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 8 minutes until onions are translucent and just beginning to brown. Stir in the garlic and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat and spread the onion mixture over a parchment-lined sheet tray to cool. Do not wash the saucepan.

In a food processor, pulse half the mushrooms until finely chopped, approximately 30 quick pulses. Transfer mushrooms to a medium mixing bowl and pulse the remaining mushrooms in the same way. Transfer remaining mushrooms to the medium mixing bowl. Do not wash food processor.

Stir to combine the chopped mushrooms with 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Spread the mushrooms evenly over a parchment-lined sheet tray. Transfer sheet tray to the oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring once after 15 minutes. Remove the sheet tray from the oven and evenly spread the mushrooms over the onions to cool to room temperature.

In the same medium (3½ quart) saucepan used for the onion mixture, add the stock. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Add rice, black lentils, bulgur, black beans (with liquid), ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Stir to combine and bring to a boil again. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes (scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent burning). Remove from the heat and drain excess liquid using a fine mesh strainer. Spread strained rice mixture evenly over a parchment-lined sheet tray and cool to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl, using a fork, stir to combine the cooked mushrooms, cooked rice mixture, panko, dried oregano, chipotle powder, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, fennel and cumin. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Put half of the mixture into a food processor and pulse 15 times until mixture is well combined. Transfer the processed batch back into the large mixing bowl and stir everything together until well mixed.

Using a ½ cup measuring cup, measure out ½ cup of mixture per burger, shaping the burgers with your hands into 4-inch (diameter) patties. Set each burger on a parchment-lined sheet tray and brush the top of each burger evenly with some oil.

Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat for 3 minutes. Transfer the prepared burgers, oil side down, into the pan and cook undisturbed for 3 minutes. Brush the second side of the burgers with oil and then flip the burgers over. Continue to cook for an additional 3 minutes. Transfer the cooked burgers to a parchment-lined sheet tray and bake for 10 minutes. Flip the burgers and continue to bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove the sheet tray from the oven. Serve burgers on buns with tomato slices, lettuce, pickled shallots, ketchup and mustard.

Spring Pea Soup with Furikake

Last week, Super Sous and I participated in a phone call led by Chefs Collaborative on the California Drought to discuss the current situation, the “forecast” and how the drought affects everyone – food eaters(!) and chefs around the country. If you weren’t able to join the call, no worries because you can now listen to this conversation:

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 9.19.57 PMWhile you listen to this conversation, perhaps you would like to enjoy a Drought Friendly Recipe?! This is a Spring Pea Soup with a delicious Japanese topping called Furikake, but if you don’t have it hanging around in your pantry, you can use toasted sesame seeds. (I will make a case to grab yourself some Furikake though as it is a delicious topping on fish, soups and even popcorn.)

 

peasinpot

Right before the blender!

peasoup1

The more topping the better

peassoup2

Spring Pea Soup with Furikake (or toasted sesame seeds)

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

 

3 cups water

1 (10-ounce) block frozen spinach

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced small (1 ½ cups)

3 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (1 tablespoon)

1 medium Yukon Gold potato (1/2 pound), peeled and diced medium

4 cups vegetable stock

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 (16-ounce) bag frozen peas

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

10 medium mint leaves

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Nori Komi Furikake, for garnish (If you don’t have this, use toasted sesame seeds)

 

In a small saucepan bring water to a simmer. Add the spinach and stir until it can be easily separated with a fork. Drain into a strainer over the sink, and cool with cold water. Once cool, squeeze out as much of the water from the spinach as possible and set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil to a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the diced onion to the saucepan and cook for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and beginning to color. Add the garlic, stir and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the diced potato, vegetable stock, and thyme to the saucepan, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 5 minutes until the potato is cooked through.

Stir in the peas and cook for 3 minutes. Add the spinach.

Using an immersion blender or blender puree until smooth.

Add lemon juice and mint leaves. Puree until smooth, thinning with a splash of water if it looks too thick.

Season to taste with salt, pepper or additional lemon juice as needed.

Serve in bowls and sprinkle over Nori Komi Furikake (or toasted sesame seeds).