Temperatures have been pushing 100 degrees F in the Ozarks for the past week, and every meal I’ve planned has needed to be nutritious but cooling. One night, I made a “fresh Mex” meal using good stuff we had on hand, like corn, serrano pepper, watermelon, tomatoes, peaches, and cucumber. I started by making my own “Cool as a Cucumber” Soup. Then I assembled a cold corn-bean-peach salad. I also cut some greens and grilled some chicken and chicken chorizo (in the air conditioning!). The final refreshing component of the meal was a Melon-rita. Recipes follow. So do pictures—please pardon the blur and exposure. I’d say the flaws were due to the Melon-Ritas, but I hadn’t had any yet when I took the pictures.
Cool as a Cucumber Soup
This soup requires no cooking at all. Nope, none.
Makes 2 cup-sized servings
½ good-sized pickling cucumber (no wax!)
bunch of garlic chives
sour cream, buttermilk, or yogurt (use what you have! I like a combination)
chicken broth for thinning, if needed
pinch of good ranch mix, like Simply Organic
salt and pepper to taste
Chop the cucumber and garlic chives roughly and then place them in a blender cup (not the whole blender for this size recipe). Add sour cream, buttermilk, and/or yogurt to the fill line (about 1 to 1 ½ cups). Add in the pinch of powdered ranch mix or your own seasonings. Puree. Taste. If you think the soup is too thick, dilute it with a little chicken broth. I did not find this step necessary. Add salt and pepper as you like. Puree again. Refrigerate until time for supper.
two fresh ears sweet corn
½ can unseasoned beans (black, kidney: use what you have!)
½ sweet yellow onion
1 medium tomato, skin on if you are eating homegrown organic
1 fresh, sweet peach
1-2 hot peppers (serrano, jalapeno)
1 grated carrot (if you have a fresh carrot)
½ bell pepper
small bunch of cilantro (substitute parsley if you don’t like cilantro)
one stem fresh oregano, leaves only
olive oil and vinegar, no more than 1 Tablespoon each
Roast the corn. I wrapped mine in aluminum foil and baked it for about 20 minutes.)
Meanwhile drain and rinse the beans, clean and chop the onion, peach, tomato, and peppers. Chop the cilantro and oregano with the onion and try to get all three very fine. I use one of those chop wizard things for this task. Once the corn has cooled, cut it off the cob. Begin by making medium cuts down the cob. Then go back and scrap the cob. Toss everything together and put it in the fridge for at least two hours. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Begin with a bed of good greens—sturdy lettuce if you have it or another green like chard. Top with grilled sweet onions sauteed with chicken breast and chicken choriza.
Pile on the Corn-Bean-Peach salad. Add guacamole, good ranch dressing, tortilla chips, or nothing at all. Eat!
Get out that blender again, but this time we’re going to use the big jar. Start with about a quarter cup each triple sec, tequila, and good lime juice. Add chunks of watermelon to the fill line. Yes, this will be about ½ a bambino watermelon. Blend until smooth. Taste. Adjust to your likes, remembering that your sweet is coming from the Triple Sec. Refrigerate until you are ready to drink. Serve over ice. Freeze leftovers, and you’ll have a great watermelon-rita slushy.
Meat and Three
By the way, this meal is another example of the Southern classic “meat and three,” which provides great protein and nutrition with meat as a flavoring, not the main focus of the dish. You could even leave out the meat altogether and still meet your nutritional needs. Southerners ate this way because they often did not have fresh meat and it was a frugal way to stay healthy.
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