Happy summer everyone! It finally feels like it here in New York. I enjoy the mellowness of the city in summer, but I’m quite happy to be going away for a week tomorrow to teach cooking classes at Rancho La Puerta spa in Tecate, Mexico.
It will be my first time visiting the spa, but it looks pretty dreamy. There’s a four-acre organic farm, which is where most of the food for my classes comes from. There are hikes that leave every morning at the crack of dawn (to beat the heat, I’m sure), there are all kinds of exercise classes, and James and I get to stay in a room that’s bigger than our apartment (at least that’s how it looks online)!
The cooking school at Rancho is called La Cocina Que Canta, or “the kitchen that sings.” I designed my menus for Rancho based on what they have growing on the farm. Lucky for me, there are lots of fruits, veggies, and herbs. Here’s the menu for my two different classes:
Cucumber, Tomato, and Radish Salad with Mint and Lime
Crunchy Arugula Rolls
Grilled Fish with Mint and Green Onion Salsa
Quinoa with Chickpeas and Purple Potatoes
Raw Corn and Tomato Salad
Chamomile Frozen Yogurt with Strawberry Compote and Candied Almonds
Chilled Cucumber Soup with Avocado and Mint
Beet and Arugula Salad with Toasted Sunflower Seeds
Carrots with Garlic and Chile
Indian Spiced Chickpea Cakes
Lime Powder Grilled Fish with Parsley Sauce
Mashed Kohlrabi with Purple Potatoes, Corn, and Cabbage
Canteloupe Fruit Soup with Lemon Verbena, Strawberries, and Pecan Lace Tuiles
As you see, it’s all light fare. The food at Rancho is geared toward health and fitness, so it’s low on oil, and high on veggies. We’ll be making one of my favorite recipes for this time of year, the Watermelon Gazpacho from Lucid Food. This recipe was inspired by an old friend whose name escapes me at the moment. I love it because it’s tangy, nutty, satisfying, and has a hint of smoky heat. Best of all, there’s no cooking involved. Just throw the ingenious combo of ingredients in the blender, and serve. Stir in some vodka if you fancy a cocktail.
Have a wonderful week, and I’ll let you know how it goes at the spa when I get back!
6 cups coarsely chopped seeded watermelon
5 ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered
1 rounded tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/2 cup whole toasted almonds
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon chipotle sauce
1/4 sweet white or red onion, finely diced
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
Blend 2 cups of the watermelon in a blender until liquid. Add the rest of the watermelon, the tomatoes, paprika, garlic, almonds, balsamic vinegar, and chipotle sauce and blend until smooth. Transfer the soup to a bowl and taste and season with salt.
Chill for an hour before serving. Garnish with a spoonful of the onion and cucumber dice.
From Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life. Photo of gazpacho by Jennifer Martiné. Rancho photos courtesy of Rancho La Puerta.