Pumpkin Seed, Roasted Tomato and Habanero Dip

Pumpkin Seed, Roasted Tomato and Habanero Dip
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Pumpkin Seed, Roasted Tomato and Habanero Dip

Pumpkin Seed, Roasted Tomato and Habanero Dip recipe from Pati’s Mexican Table Season 12, Episode 8 “Maya Today”
Cook Time10 minutes
Course: Antojos, Appetizer, Dip, Salsa
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: habanero, pumpkin seeds, Tomato, Yucatán Peninsula
Servings: 1 2/3 cups
Author: Pati Jinich


  • 1 pound ripe Roma tomatoes
  • 1 fresh habanero
  • 2 ounces or 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds with their shells
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt or to taste
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves and top of the stems
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh chives
  • Serve with tortilla chips or vegetable sticks such as raw zucchini, cucumber, carrots, jicama


  • Preheat a comal, skillet, or griddle over medium heat. Once hot, add the tomatoes, habanero and pumpkin seeds. Toss and flip the pumpkin seeds as they toast, for a couple of minutes, just until they seem to puff up with a bit of air, about 2 to 3 minutes. They should be crunchy and taste toasty. Don’t let them brown too much or burn. Scrape them into a bowl and set aside.
  • Let the tomatoes and habanero continue to char and toast, for a total of about 8 minutes, flipping as needed, until completely softened and the skin is completely charred and blistered. Remove from the heat.
  • Using a food processor or spice or coffee grinder, grind the toasted pumpkin seeds with a teaspoon of salt until finely ground. If using the food processor, you can add the tomatoes, half of the habanero at a time, the cilantro and chives, and continue pulsing until everything is mashed together into a paste. Or, you can transfer the ground pumpkin seeds to a molcajete and mash the tomatoes and habaneros there, tasting as you go, then adding and mashing the cilantro and chives. Serve with tortilla chips or vegetable sticks.
  • Note: In west Yucatán they make it with cilantro, and in east Yucatán they make it with chives. Some people mix the two. Some people add the habanero raw, some roasted or charred.


Sikil Pak

Pea Soup with Basil and Mint Crema

Pea Soup with Basil and Mint Crema
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Pea Soup with Basil and Mint Crema

Pea Soup with Basil and Mint Crema recipe from Pati’s Mexican Table Season 12, Episode 3 “Flavors of Merida”
Cook Time20 minutes
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: mexican crema, peas, soup
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Author: Pati Jinich


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 2 cups thinly sliced leeks white and light green parts only
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups fresh peas or thawed from frozen
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves packed, reserve 1/4 cup finely chopped for cream garnish
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves packed, reserve 1/4 cup finely chopped for cream garnish
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt plus 1/4 teaspoon for garnish cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper plus 1/4 teaspoon for garnish cream
  • 1 cup Mexican crema or creme fraiche
  • Donde crackers or soup crackers


  • In a large soup pot set over medium heat, heat the butter and oil. Once the butter bubbles and melts, add the onion and leek, and cook stirring occasionally for 10 minutes, until completely wilted.
  • Pour in the chicken broth, raise heat to medium high and let it come to a simmer. Once it does, add the peas, 3/4 cup of the mint, 3/4 cup of the basil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir and cook for 3 to 4 more minutes. Turn off heat.
  • Transfer the mixture to a blender, in batches, and puree until completely smooth. Return to the soup pot.
  • Make the basil and mint cream in a small bowl by combining the Mexican crema with the reserved 1/4 cup each of finely chopped basil and mint. Season with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper, or to taste.
  • When ready to eat, heat the soup until it is simmering. Serve garnished with the basil and mint crema and crackers.


Sopa de Chícharos con Crema de Albahaca y Menta

Melted Cheese with Guajillo and Garlic Mushrooms

Print Recipe
4.41 from 5 votes

Melted Cheese with Guajillo and Garlic Mushrooms

This queso fundido with mushrooms has the craziest cheese pull in the middle and an irresistible crunchy, cheesy crust all around.
Cook Time30 minutes
Course: Dip, Snack
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: cheese, Guajillo, Mushroom, queso, Queso Fundido
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Author: Pati Jinich


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic peeled, plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 2 dried guajillo chiles stemmed, seeded and finely chopped or snipped with scissors
  • 1 lb mixed mushrooms such as white button, baby bella, and wild mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt or more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper or to taste
  • 4 cups grated mixed melting cheeses such as asadero, Oaxaca, Monterey Jack, or mozzarella
  • 8 to 10 flour and/or corn tortillas
  • Guacamole or 1 ripe avocado halved, pitted, and sliced (optional)
  • Salsa of your choice for serving (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, with a rack in the upper third. Lightly oil a large shallow baking dish.
  • Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the whole garlic cloves and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften and brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and discard, leaving the flavored oil behind.
  • Add the onion and guajillo chiles and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes, just until the onion begins to soften. Add the chopped garlic, stir, and cook for a minute, until fragrant. Stir in the mushrooms, salt, and black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the mushroom juices have been released and begun to evaporate and the mushrooms have begun to color, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, taste, and adjust the salt.
  • Combine the cheeses thoroughly and arrange in the baking dish. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese is completely melted. Top with the mushrooms, return to the oven, and bake for another 7 to 8 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling, the edges are crusty, and the top is lightly browned.
  • Meanwhile, heat a comal or large skillet over medium-low heat for at least 5 minutes. One or two at a time, depending on the size of your comal or pan, heat the tortillas, making sure they are not overlapping, until warm, puffed, and browned in spots, about a minute per side. Place in a tortilla warmer or wrap in a clean cloth or kitchen towel.
  • Serve the queso bubbling hot from the oven, with the warm tortillas and guacamole or avocado slices and salsa, if desired. Let everyone assemble their own tacos at the table.


Queso Fundido con Hongos al Ajillo con Guajillo

Super Greens Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette

Super Greens Salad
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Super Greens Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette

Super Greens Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette from Pati's Mexican Table Season 11, Episode 9 "A Day with Hugo"
Cook Time0 minutes
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: cilantro, oregano
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Pati Jinich


Oregano Vinaigrette:

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 garlic clove pressed or finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon grated piloncillo or dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 shallot thinly sliced


  • 2 cups arugula rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups watercress rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup basil leaves rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves and upper part of stems rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup parsley leaves and upper part of stems rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup mint leaves rinsed and drained
  • 4 to 5 radishes rinsed and drained, bulbs thinly sliced, leaves coarsely chopped


To make the oregano vinaigrette:

  • In a small saucepan preheated over medium-low heat for a few minutes, toast the oregano and cumin for 20 to 30 seconds, stirring occasionally, just until fragrant and toasty, don’t let them burn. Remove from heat set aside to cool. When cooled, finely chop or crush with a sharp knife.
  • In a small bowl, combine the oregano, cumin, garlic, capers, lime juice, olive oil, soy sauce, Worcestershire, piloncillo, salt and pepper. Whisk well until completely emulsified. Add the shallots, mix and let sit for at least 10 minutes.

To make the salad

  • In a large salad bowl, place the arugula, spinach, watercress, basil, cilantro, parsley, mint, radish leaves, and sliced radish bulbs. Pour the vinaigrette over, toss well, and serve.


Ensalada Verde con Vinagreta de Orégano

Grilled Queso Fundido Potatoes

Grilled Queso Fundido Potatoes
Print Recipe
4.80 from 5 votes

Grilled Queso Fundido Potatoes

Grilled Queso Fundido Potatoes from Pati’s Mexican Table Season 11, Episode 1 “The Fire Kings”
Cook Time30 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Keyword: cheese, chile piquín, potatoes, sausage
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Author: Pati Jinich


  • 2 pounds baby potatoes halved
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter diced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
  • ½ pound smoked Kielbasa or jalapeño sausage
  • 1 pound Oaxaca cheese shredded
  • ½ cup Mexican crema or to taste
  • ¼ cup crumbled Cotija cheese or to taste
  • ½ cup crisp and browned chopped bacon
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh chives or to taste
  • Ground dried piquín chile or chiltepín chile or red chile flakes


  • Preheat the grill to medium or medium high.
  • Place the potatoes in the middle of a large piece of aluminum foil. Top with butter, salt, and pepper. Close the aluminum foil and completely seal the edges as if folding an envelope (or twisting the edges of an empanada). Place on the grill, close the lid, and cook for 15 minutes, until potatoes are cooked, soft and a sharp knife can cut through any one piece.
  • Place the Kielbasa on the grill turning until lightly browned on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from the grill and cut into bite size pieces.
  • Remove the potato packet, open carefully. Add the kielbasa pieces and cover entirely with the Oaxaca cheese. Close the packet again, place on the grill and close the lid. Let it cook for 15 to 20 more minutes, until the cheese has completely melted.
  • Remove the packet from the grill, open it and dress it with the crema, Cotija, bacon, chives and ground piquín. Bring it to the center of the table and share!


Papitas con Queso Fundido

Apple Jicama Cucumber Slaw

fried shrimp tacos
Print Recipe
5 from 6 votes

Apple Jicama Cucumber Slaw

Apple Jicama Cucumber Slaw recipe from Pati’s Mexican Table Season 10, Episode 10 “Quiero más Tacos”
Course: Garnish, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: apple, chipotles in adobo, cucumber, jalapeno, Jicama, mexican crema
Servings: 5 servings
Author: Pati Jinich


For the slaw:

  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • 1/2 small jicama
  • 1/3 cup slivered red onion
  • 1 serrano or jalapeño chile thinly sliced into rounds

For the dressing:

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons Mexican crema
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tablespoon sauce from chipotles in adobo
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


To make the slaw:

  • Cut the apple, cucumber, and jicama into thin 3-inch matchsticks. Toss in a large bowl with the red onion and chile.

To make the dressing:

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, crema, vinegar, mustard, lime juice, adobo sauce, celery seed, salt, and pepper.
  • Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss. This is best served within one hour of preparing.


Ensalada de Jícama, Manzana y Pepino

Mushroom Tacos with Chile de Árbol Salsa

Mushroom Tacos
Print Recipe
4.67 from 6 votes

Mushroom Tacos with Chile de Árbol Salsa

Mushroom Tacos with Chile de Árbol Salsa recipe from Pati’s Mexican Table Season 10, Episode 10 “Quiero más Tacos”
Cook Time10 minutes
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: chile de arbol, cilantro, corn tortillas, Mushroom, Salsa
Servings: 6 tacos
Author: Pati Jinich


  • 3 tablespoons safflower oil
  • 3 garlic cloves peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 pound mixed mushrooms such as maitake, crimini, shitake, sliced into ¾ inch pieces
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons Chile de Árbol Salsa plus more to serve
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves and upper stems, chopped, plus more to garnish
  • 6 warm corn or flour tortillas
  • Cilantro flowers to garnish (optional)


  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot add the garlic and thyme and once the garlic begins to just lightly brown around the edges, add the mushrooms. Let them cook for 3 minutes, then stir and season with salt. Again, let them sit undisturbed for 2-3 minutes, or as needed, allowing any liquid to cook off and until they are deeply browned. Once browned, stir in the chile de árbol salsa and cook for one minute while stirring, so the mushrooms absorb the flavor. Stir in the vinegar and the chopped cilantro. Remove from heat.
  • Spoon onto warm corn tortillas and garnish with cilantro and/or cilantro flowers, if using. Serve with extra chile de árbol salsa.


Tacos de Champiñones con Salsa de Chile de Arbol

Roasted Tomatoes on Everything

Roasted Tomatoes on Everything
Print Recipe
4 from 5 votes

Roasted Tomatoes on Everything

These roasted tomatoes can be used on avocado toast, pasta, grilled asparagus, an egg scramble or a cheese omelet.
Cook Time45 minutes
Servings: 2 cups approximately
Author: Pati Jinich


  • 1 1/2 pounds ripe cherry tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 dried chiles de árbol stemmed, thinly sliced
  • 3 to 4 shallots about 1/2 pound, outer layer peeled, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


  • Set the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400°F.
  • On a small baking sheet, combine the tomatoes, chiles de árbol, shallots, garlic, oil, salt and pepper and toss to combine.
  • Place in the oven and roast for 45 to 50 minutes, until tomatoes have completely softened and almost fallen apart and are charred on the outside.
  • The roasted tomatoes can be used on avocado toast, pasta, grilled asparagus, an egg scramble or a cheese omelet.
  • Note: It is important that the tomatoes be ripe for full flavor. If they seem hard or a bit unripe, leave them in a bowl on your countertop for a few days so they can continue ripening until fully colored and softened. 


Jitomatitos Rostizados para Todo

Asparagus Mushroom & Goat Cheese Enchiladas with Pine Nut Mole Sauce

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4.17 from 6 votes

Asparagus Mushroom & Goat Cheese Enchiladas with Pine Nut Mole Sauce

The tortillas are dipped into the luscious mole and wrapped around the filling of seared mushrooms and crisp-tender asparagus seasoned with orange zest and thyme, and goat cheese, which melts when the enchiladas are topped with the hot mole sauce. When you have vegetarians coming over for dinner, this dish is a must.
Cook Time30 minutes
Course: Antojos, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: enchiladas, Vegetarian
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Pati Jinich


For the Pine Nut Mole:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 cup raw pine nuts
  • 1 garlic clove chopped
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes coarsely chopped
  • 2 ancho chiles stemmed, seeded, and coarsely chopped or broken into pieces
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth homemade or store-bought
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon packed brown sugar or to taste

For the Filling:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound white button or baby bella (cremini) mushrooms cleaned and diced
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 pound asparagus tough ends removed, peeled from just below the tips tothe bottom, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

To assemble:

  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 6 ounces goat cheese cut into chunks (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts toasted, for garnish


To make the mole:

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large casserole or heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until completely softened.Stir in the pine nuts and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the garlic becomes fragrant and changes color and the pine nuts are light brown and smell toasty. Raise the heat to medium- high, add another tablespoon of olive oil and the tomatoes, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes soften and break down, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the ancho chiles, orange juice, broth, salt, and brown sugar and bring to a simmer.Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chiles have rehydrated and plumped up and the sauce has thickened, about 8 minutes more.
  • Transfer the contents of the pot to a blender and let cool for a few minutes, then puree, in batches if necessary, until completely smooth.
  • Rinse out and dry the pot, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and heat over medium heat. Add the pine nut mole, cover partially, and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has darkened and thickened a bit more. Cover and set aside.

To make the filling:

  • Heat the oil in a large skillet or casserole over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and let them sear and brown, without stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes. Push the mushrooms to the sides of the pan and add the butter to the middle. When the butter begins to foam, add the asparagus, thyme, orange zest, salt, and pepper to taste, stir together with the mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the asparagus is crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.

To assemble:

  • Heat and lightly toast the tortillas on a hot comal or skillet.
  • Dip a tortilla in the mole, place it on a plate, and top with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the mushroom and asparagus mixture and a tablespoon of crumbled goat cheese. Roll up into a chubby enchilada and place seam side down on a serving platter. Continue with the remaining tortillas and filling.
  • Reheat the sauce if necessary. Spoon a generous amount of sauce on top of the enchiladas (use it all if you wish), garnish with the chives and toasted pine nuts, and serve.


Enchiladas de Espárragos, Cahmiñones y Queso de Cabra con Mole de Piñón

Cactus Paddles or Nopales

It’s hard to think of Mexico without images of cactus plants. From landscapes to murals, to paintings, photos, plays, songs… and namely to the Mexican flag! Mexico’s coat of arms has an eagle eating a snake triumphantly standing on a cactus plant. As legend goes, that sign led the Aztecs to their promised land, Tenochtitlán.

But you know what is even harder? To think of a Mexican table without cactus, or nopales, on our plates. They’ve been a crucial ingredient since pre-Hispanic times.

Though there are hundreds of varieties, the most common is the Prickly Pear cactus. It has fleshy leaves or paddles, that are used as a vegetable in salads, stews, soups, eggs, stews, all sorts of appetizers and even smoothies and juices -a really popular one combines nopales with orange juice and my mom is fond of adding fresh spinach to the mix. They are used as a base to mount other ingredients onto, as a wrapper instead of thick tortillas and as a filler or topper for tamales, quesadillas, tostadas… They are found from breakfast to dinner options and anywhere in between (continue for more information and photos).

Cactus Paddles 1

They grow onwards and upwards in a funny way, from paddle to paddle. Their skin is shinny and green, and it is covered in tiny, almost transparent, thorns that happen to be quite vicious when you try to remove them from the little bumps they grow out of. If the paddles aren’t cut, those bumps grow into tunas, or prickly pear fruits.

Nopales are so filling and versatile, that I am waiting to see them star as a top choice for vegetarians outside of Mexico. More so, as they are insanely nutritious, with vitamin A, C and a loadful of Iron. And to top that off, they are low, low, low fat. They can be cooked in many ways, from boiled, to steamed, sautéed, grilled and are delightful when pickled. Whichever way they are cooked, they have an irresistible chewy meaty bite and a mild flavor that has a tart edge to it.

One reason they haven’t spread like wild fire may be that many people don’t know how to cook them and when they try, they don’t know how to deal with the gelatinous, viscous, slimy liquid they exude as they cook. Now, you can’t let yourself get discouraged from that description, there are many ways to deal with that gooey liquid -think of cooking down mushrooms-. I have my favorite way, that always works!

Cactus Paddles 2

Another reason nopales haven’t become so popular outside of Mexico, yet, may be that they are not… so… easy… to clean. Skilled Mexican cooks get away with removing the thorns without being pricked and out in the country they tend to be cleaned with a machete. It does take some practice, but there are ways to go about it even without such a rough tool.

In Mexico, you find nopales sold in markets and stores already cleaned and even diced. You can find them like that in a few Latin or international stores abroad, but mostly, when found fresh, you have to clean them yourself. They are also sold in jars, cans or bags preserved in a lightly pickled juice. Not my favorite, but if that is the only way you find them, grab them, run for the checkout and give them a quick rinse before you use them. Better to get that, then none at all… take it from a nostalgic Mexican…

Summertime Watermelon & Tomatillo Salad: Beat the Heat!

This year I promised my boys we would plant goodies in the backyard to harvest ourselves. At the nursery, jumping up and down as in a candy shop, they dragged so many plants to the counter, I had to give an absolute NO to half of them.

We ended up with thyme, oregano, bay leaves, rosemary, mint, parsley, and cilantro.  Ok, and tomatoes, cherry and roma. Fine… corn too, don’t know what I was thinking. And wait! We couldn’t leave without jalapeños, which led me to run for some tomatillos. And scallions. I stopped there. I did.

Then Sami came back with a little watermelon plant.  That was the wildest idea, oh, that monster of mine. We’ve no room to grow watermelon. I told him about the big wide fields in Northern Mexico, in states like Sonora, Chihuahua, Jalisco and Sinaloa where watermelon is grown extensively. Our backyard is… not so big.

Beats me.

We brought home Sami’s watermelon plant.

chopped up watermelon
As the weeks went by, we saw many of the plants thrive, except the watermelon which seemed to take an awful long time to  grow. Then one day the editors from Babble asked me for a custom recipe. By then, I was eagerly thinking about what would make the sweet, watery crunch from that soon to grow watermelon shine the most.

This is what I came up with…

Thinly sliced, raw, punchy and tart tomatillos. Much firmer than the watermelon, and just look at the color contrast. Not to say about the flavor combination.

To coat this unconventional pairing, I wanted a vinaigrette with some some gentle heat. I got it from the jalapeños, which you will never have trouble finding in our backyard as Juju made markers for each plant… I am proud to say, the boy knows his Ñ’s.

jalapenos in the garden
I coarsely chopped the chiles, as I like to feel their friendly bite. But you can give them a finer chop and even remove the seeds.


With the already unusual watermelon and tomatillo pairing, I went unusual again, and added some chopped fresh mint.

Mint  has been growing wild here, as all mint tends to… Although we planted ours in the ground while still in their protective pots, to keep them in check. It doesn’t seem to give a hoot. Its wild.

Soaked the jalapeño and the mint with fresh squeezed lime juice, a bit of straight forward white distilled vinegar which makes everything it coats more crisp, the oils and salt… Gave it a bit of time, 5 to 10 minutes, to sit and get acquainted.

Poured the vinaigrette over the red and green. Yet not only was the salad screaming for some white (partly to round the colors of the Mexican flag, for one thing…) but also for some salty taste with some heartiness to it. Hence the Feta Cheese. Now you can go for anything tangy, salty and crumbly: queso fresco or farmers’ cheese works well too.

feta cheese
While we had the chance to harvest and eat the jalapeño, mint and tomatillos from our backyard, that watermelon never came to be… some bunnies got to it before we did.

But just day dreaming about it made me come up with one of my favorite recipes. It is so bright, so alive, so peppy and so summery!

Luckily there are plenty of amazing watermelons at the stores… we will have to give it another go next summer to harvest our own.

watermelon and tomatillo salad
Meanwhile I can’t help but repeat this salad that hits all the taste buds!  Sweet from the watermelon, salty from the cheese, spicy from the chile, tart from the lime and tomatillos and refreshing from the mint. Oh, you just have to give it a try…

watermelon and tomatillo salad with feta cheese
Print Recipe
4.34 from 6 votes

Summertime Watermelon & Tomatillo Salad

I can’t help but repeat this salad that hits all the taste buds!  Sweet from the watermelon, salty from the cheese, spicy from the chile, tart from the lime and tomatillos and refreshing from the mint. Oh, you just have to give it a try…
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time5 minutes
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: feta, jalapeno, lime, mint, pati's mexican table, queso fresco, tomatillos, vinaigrette, vinegar, watermelon
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Pati Jinich


For the salad:

  • 4 cups watermelon cut into bite size chunks or cubes
  • 2 cups, about 1/2 pound tomatillos husks removed, thoroughly rinsed, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup, about 3 ounces mild feta or queso fresco crumbled or cut into small dice

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves about 5 to 6, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon jalapeño or serrano chile or to taste (seeding optional)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


  • Place the watermelon cubes and tomatillo slices in a large bowl.
  • In a small bowl, add the chopped mint and jalapeno. Squeeze the fresh lime juice on top, stir in the vinegar, sprinkle the salt and mix. Pour the olive oil and vegetable oil, and mix with a whisk or fork until well emulsified.
  • Pour the vinaigrette on top of the watermelon and tomatillos, toss well and sprinkle the cheese on top.


Ensalada de Sandía y Tomate Verde


Whenever it starts pouring down rain in late Spring, I hanker for huitlacoche.

A true Mexican delicacy, also called cuitlacoche, it is a form of fungus, similar to some mushrooms, that grows on fresh corn. In the Mexican rainy season, which starts in April (some say March…) and ends sometime in September (some say October…), you can find huitlacoche at its peak.

It doesn’t look that pretty. It grows in an oversize and disproportionate manner on ears of corn, producing huge kernels that are black inside and covered with a somewhat silvery-white, sparkly and velvet textured skin.

Its flavor is intense and unmatchable: mushroomy, earthy, woody, a bit inky… reminds me of calamari ink.

Huitlacoche 1

In Mexico, it was considered a treat long before the Spaniards arrived. Corn being such a sacred crop, anything that grows on it, especially as delicious, was considered a true gift from the Gods. You can find it throughout the country in the markets, and it costs more than your regular pieces of corn.

It is hard to find it fresh in the US as many farmers have considered it a pest, although restaurants, cooks and chefs are increasingly calling for it. Even the James Beard Foundation held a huitlacoche dinner in 1989 to try to familiarize Americans with it. They called it, the Mexican truffle…

If you can’t find it fresh, you can surely find it in cans of very good quality and also frozen. Go for it!

There is so much you can do with it: from soups, to taco and quesadilla fillings, savory rice, and stuffed in crepes, chicken and fish. Just to name some… I especially like it cooked with a bit of onion, jalapeño and epazote.

Squash Blossoms

Squash blossoms are considered a true delicacy in Mexican cuisine. Available in rainy months, they fly out of the markets as soon as they are set on the floor mats and stands.

No wonder they are such a hot selling ingredient: They are gorgeous looking, with orange and green Fall colors, a velvety texture, a meaty and crunchy bite and a delicate and exuberant flavor.

Since they are also commonly used in Mediterranean cuisine, aside from finding them in the US in Latin markets, one can find them at Italian grocery stores. But one can also find them during the summer season in some grocery stores and Farmer’s markets.

Squash Blossoms 1

I was so excited to find them so fresh in Mexico last weekend, that I took many photos. I have to say, one can buy 10 pounds of flowers for the price of what one pays here, but oh well. Also, in Mexico they sell them already completely bloomed.

Though they taste much better when fresh, they have to be used quickly as they wilt fast even inside of the refrigerator. But they can also be found canned, and they do taste good as well.

To use them fresh, remove the lower part of the stem and rinse them thoroughly. I use all of the flower and upper stem, though some cooks do remove the green sepals. Squash blossoms tend to be paired with one or another fresh Chile, typically the Poblanos, and many times corn.

Squash Blossoms 2


Huauzontles, also called Huazontles or Cuazontles, are a native plant to Mexico. Their scientific name is Chenopodium nuttalliae. Huauzontles gave a very thick main stem, oval leaves -that aren’t eaten- and thinner stems filled with edible green flowers that resemble broccoli or rapini, but are much more smaller and delicate.

They have a strong smell when you get close. Similarly as the Epazote, Huauzontles have a deep, clean and almost astringent smell. Some people say they taste similar to spinach or watercress. It seems to me, they have a welcoming and original, light bitter taste.

Though they have been commonly eaten during Lent for centuries, but they are also eaten throughout the year. Since they have become increasingly popular in the US -where they used to be considered a weed- they are now being imported and also grown. They are now available in many Latino and International stores.

In Mexico, huauzontles are considered a nutritious, exotic, filling and delicate ingredient.

The most common way to eat them is what is called tortas de huauzontle, where they are boiled, drained, covered in cheese, battered and then bathed in one or another kind of sauce. The thick stem is not removed and people pull the edible part of the huauzontles with their teeth. It is fun! Yet, it is also messy.

I am fond of making croquettes out of them, which I shall post shortly.

Chayote Squash

Chayote, also called chayote squash (it is from the squash family), choko, vegetable pear, mirliton and christophene, is a beautiful pear like shaped vegetable. Ironically, it has a texture similar to a pear that isn’t ripe, but less grainy. Yet the chayotes isn’t wholly sweet, it just has a sweet hint, barely a whisper, really. Its flavor is more neutral, like a cross between a pear and a cucumber… and zucchini. Well, you just have to give them a try.

Crispy, watery, very low-fat, with a clean and wholesome feel, chayote can be used many ways. Most typically in soups, as a warm vegetable side, a cold salad or very popularly stuffed either with a sweet or savory spin. They are most times cooked and best al dente, unless eaten stuffed.

There are different kinds of Chayotes. These here in the photo are probably the most common, and the easiest to find outside of Mexico. They are mild, with a mild green color and a mild, friendly and accommodating flavor. There are some that have a darker green color, and even purple tones, with thick and short thorns throughout their skin.

Chayotes tend to store well. They can last for more than a couple weeks in the refrigerator.


Although they are widely available in the US, I don’t think I have met more than a couple people here who use fresh tomatillos in their cooking. It may be partly because people are not familiar with them or how to cook them, but…. they are not an appealing ingredient as far as looks go with the first impression! But let me tell you why you should definitely give them a try.

They are from the tomato family, but are much firmer than red tomatoes and less juicy. They are green and covered with a papery husk, that tends to be speckled with dirt and sometimes randomly torn or stuck to the flesh of the tomatillo. This is because the skin of the tomatillo is a bit sticky and waxy. They also have a somewhat humid aroma, from the moisture caught in between the skin and the husk along their travels and storage time.

However, don’t let yourself be deceived by their cover and first appearance. Once you bring them home, peel the husk and rinse them off, you will see what a beautiful ingredient they are. They have a sensuous shape and a deep green shiny color. You will see even more beauty once you try their flavor and see all the things you can use them for.

In my opinion, they are one of the most unique ingredients in Mexican cooking. A bit tart, in a very peculiar way, they work wonderfully along spicy and sweet ingredients.

To buy them, don’t be shy about touching them. You have to confirm they are firm, with a bright green color and not mushed, wrinkled or colorless, signs of being old and bitter. They should be fresh and you can tell by the husk which should be papery, regardless if it sticks to the tomatillo or not. So grab the tomatillo and peek inside the husk to see what you are getting before you put it in your basket!

Calabacita italiana or Italian zucchini

I think the most commonly used zucchini in Mexican cooking is either what in Mexico is called the calabacita italiana, or Italian zucchini, or the calabacita bola or round squash, which is similar to the Italian but rounder and smaller and used a lot in French cooking. Italian zucchini is different from the regular green zucchini found in most US stores, in that the later is large, thick and has a uniform dark green color. The Italian zucchini is smaller, a bit rounder with a chubbier appearance, and has a lighter green color that is randomly speckled with a cream color and is milder and sweeter in flavor.

See the Italian zucchini pictured above. As the years have gone by, I have seen them more frequently at international and Latino stores as well as some Farmers Markets here in the US.

Below see the Italian zucchini on top of the regular green zucchini so you can compare its looks. Now you have to bring them home to taste the differences (!). Though you can substitute one for the other in recipes, the Italian is a bit milder and sweeter.

Calabacita italiana 1




Jí­camas are one of the many Mexican ingredients that luckily, have become readily available outside of the country. Also known as Mexican yams or turnips, they are also a root vegetable. But they are far from the latter in flavor, texture or cooking uses.

They are mostly (and as far as I know also successfully) eaten raw. No need to try to cook them, for many of the qualities they are loved for would be lost. They have a similar taste and crunch as the water chestnuts, but in my view, jí­camas are more refreshing, crispy, sweet and watery.

Their size varies, and that has little to do with how good they are. You can find very cute baby jí­camas in Mexico, but I haven’t seen them here. From the outside they look like a coconut once the hard green cover has been removed. Their light brown peel is very fibrous and should be removed before eating. Be sure to peel it well or a very thin white layer that is also fibrous and uncomfortable to eat remains there. Inside they are white and appear to be moist, given how watery they are.

In Mexico they are an incredibly popular snack, which is very convenient since they are low fat, filled with proteins, filling and easy to digest. They are eaten by themselves or combined with other vegetables or fruits, drizzled with fresh lime juice, salt and dried ground chile, such as Piquí­n, or a chile sauce, such as Bufalo or Valentina, to name a few. They are also a favorite ingredient for salads. Lately, when we have visited Mexico, I have seen sophisticated twists such as vegetarian versions of enchiladas and tacos, in which they are sliced incredibly thin and used as a wrap.

When you go look for Jí­camas, choose those hard to the touch and with no signs of moisture on their peel. Once you bring them home, refrigerate them until ready to use. But don’t let many days go by or they will age and become mushy and acquire an unappealing flavor. You know they have passed their time if once you peel and slice them, instead of white, the flesh has become light brown. After they are peeled and sliced, keep them covered in the refrigerator or they will dry considerably.