Try this in the summer when both green beans and tomatoes are at their best: string beans, green beans or sugar snap peas all taste good,” says Thomasina Miers†
Blistered green bean tacos with tomato pico and roasted almonds
75 g slivered almonds
500 g green beans, topped
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced
3 tbsp capers (the bigger the better)
For the small corn tortillas (12 pieces)†
800 g masa harina flour
1 tsp salt
600ml hot water
Vegetable oil, for frying
(You will also need a clean plastic bag torn in half, two sheets of parchment paper, and a tortilla press or rolling pin)
For the tomato pico†
6 very ripe plum or cherry tomatoes
Small handful of coriander
1 small red onion, very finely chopped
1-2 green chilies, preferably jalapeños, very finely chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1-2 limes
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp soft brown sugar Salt and pepper
Crumbled feta (optional)
Sliced avocado (optional)
1. First make the pico: cut the tomatoes into quarters and scoop out the watery insides (you can keep them and use them in a vinaigrette or in a soup). Cut the meat into cubes.
2. Roughly chop the coriander leaves and the stalks and stir them into the tomatoes together with the onion, chillies, oil, half of the lime juice, salt and sugar. Check the taste and add more salt, pepper or lime juice if you think the salsa needs it. Let marinate for at least 20 minutes.
3. To make the tortillas, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and gradually stir in the warm water until a dough begins to form. Knead in the bowl for two to three minutes until smooth, cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes. You want it to feel springy and firm, similar to the texture of play-doh. If the dough feels too wet and sticks to your hands, add a few tablespoons of flour. If it feels too dry, add an extra tablespoon or two of warm water.
4. Divide into 30 g balls and place on a plate, covered with a damp cloth to prevent them from sticking together. Place one half of the plastic or parchment paper on the tortilla press or work surface and place your first ball in the center. Gently press the tortilla ball with two fingers to crush it into a thick disk. Cover with the second sheet of plastic to prevent the masa from tearing or sticking, and press or roll out into a thin tortilla about 3mm thick.
5. Peel off the top plastic, take the sheet on which the tortilla lies and turn it face down on the open palm of your hand, tortilla to skin. Remove the plastic top and invert the tortilla in a lightly oiled pan.
6. Bake on one side for 20-30 seconds, until the tortilla looks cooked through, with nicely browned grids. If you’re lucky, it may even blow up! Turn and cook for another 30 seconds, then turn again. Remove from pan and store wrapped in a tea towel in a warm oven.
7. Place your largest skillet over medium heat and toast the almonds when hot, shaking the pan until they are mostly a lighter caramel hue. Set aside to cool.
8. Increase the heat under the pan and add the beans in two batches. Bake each batch for four to five minutes until they look slightly blackened and begin to blister. Season with sea salt and remove from the pan into a warm bowl. Now pour in the olive oil and add the garlic and the drained capers (watch out for spitting when they are still a little wet). Cook for a few minutes or so until the garlic is golden brown and pour over the beans.
9. Stack the beans in the tortillas and garnish with the garlic and capers, spoon over heaped spoonfuls of the tomato salsa. Sprinkle with the almonds and crumbled feta and avocado, if using, and chew to taste.
Beetroot ceviche with tarragon, blood orange and avocado ‘crema’
Miers says “‘ceviche-ing’ beautiful vegetables, at the height of their season, have become a favorite in my Mexican feasts”.
Although, if you want to give this recipe a try when blood oranges are not in season, regular ones are fine.
Serves: 6 as an appetizer or less as part of a light meal
4 medium red beets
2½ tbsp olive oil
30g sunflower seeds
1½ tbsp lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped coriander stalks plus a small handful coarsely chopped coriander leaves
2 spring onions, finely chopped
Small handful coarsely chopped tarragon leaves
Fine sea salt
Cress or pea shoots, to garnish (optional)
For the dressing†
1 Scotch bonnet chili (or a bird’s eye)
1 small garlic clove, unpeeled
¼ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp caster sugar
2 tbsp lime juice
7 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of ½ orange (blood or otherwise)
1. Preheat oven to 200C/180C fan/400F/gas 6.
2. Rub the beetroot with a tablespoon of olive oil, followed by a little fine sea salt, place in a baking pan and cover with foil. Roast for an hour or until tender when pierced with a knife.
3. Toast the sunflower seeds in a dry frying pan (skillet) until golden brown. Remove and set aside. Meanwhile, to make the dressing, place the chili and garlic in the dry skillet over medium heat and roast on both sides until blackened all over, about five to seven minutes. Toast the cumin seeds in the same pan for 30 seconds.
4. Deseed the chili pepper, cut into quarters and peel the garlic. Mash a quarter of the chili into a paste in a pestle with the garlic and a few pinches of salt, the cumin and the sugar. Work in the lime juice and finally pour in the olive oil and orange juice and stir to combine.
5. Puree the avocado with the lime juice, one and a half tablespoons of water and the remaining oil. Add the coriander stalks and two to three large pinches of salt and grind again to a smooth, thick cream.
6. Once the beetroot is cooked, let it cool for five minutes, then put on a pair of dishwashing gloves and rub the skin off the beetroot. Cut into circles of about 3 mm, preferably with a mandolin. Arrange in overlapping circles on a large serving platter and dress while still warm with the dressing.
7. Cut the radishes into wafer-thin slices (use the mandolin if you have one). Divide the spring onions, coriander and tarragon leaves and the seeds on top and drizzle with the avocado cream. Serve immediately with the cress or pea shoots.
“Paletas, which are essentially Mexican lollipops made from the many tropical fruits native to the country, are an extremely pleasant way to quench thirst in such a warm climate,” says Thomasina Miers.
Mango and chocolate paletas
The mango version below is delicious dipped in chili-lime salt, while the Mexican chocolate version is made with almond milk and drizzled with white chocolate and chopped almonds, she adds. Otherwise, try condensed milk or cream for a rich finish.
For the mango dipped in chili salt version†
2 small ripe mangoes (220g)
Zest and juice of 1 lime (40ml)
2-3 tbsp light agave nectar
For the chili-lime salt†
10 g piquin peppers or Urfa chili flakes
10 g fine sea salt
100 g caster sugar
Zest of 1 lime
For the Mexican chocolate variant†
400 ml almond or whole milk
A few pinches of ground cinnamon
55 g dark chocolate, chopped
55 g milk chocolate, cut into pieces
1-2 tablespoons golden syrup
90 grams of white chocolate
50 g almonds (flaked/flaked)
1. To make the mango palettas, peel and pit the mangoes and place the pulp (and as much juice as possible) in a blender. Add the lime zest and juice and agave with 300 ml water and mix to combine.
2. Taste the mixture and add more agave if necessary, remembering to sweeten more than you think you need to as much of the sweetness disappears once the lollipops are frozen. Pour into lollipop molds and refrigerate for at least eight hours.
3. To make the chili salt, grind the peppers with the salt in a spice grinder or small food processor and stir in the sugar and lime zest. Serve the mango paleta dipped in the chili-lime salt.
4. To make the Mexican Chocolate Palette, add the milk to a heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over low heat with the cinnamon and golden syrup. Remove the milk from the heat and stir in the chocolate until completely melted. Let cool and pour into the lollipop moulds. Freeze for at least eight hours.
5. For garnish, melt the white chocolate and toast the almonds. Drizzle the paletas with the white chocolate and sprinkle with the almonds.
Recipes from ‘Meat-free Mexican: Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes’ by Thomasina Miers (published by Hodder and Stoughton, £25; photography by Tara Fisher), available now.