Try this in the summer when both the green beans and the tomatoes are at their best: runner beans, griddled flat beans or sugar snaps will all taste good,” says Thomasina Miers.
Blistered green bean tacos with tomato pico and toasted almonds
75g flaked almonds
500g green beans, topped
2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced
3 tbsp capers (the bigger the better)
For the small corn tortillas (makes 12):
800g masa harina flour
1 tsp salt
600ml warm water
Vegetable oil, for frying
(You’ll also need a clean plastic bag torn into two halves, two sheets of parchment paper and a tortilla press or a rolling pin)
For the tomato pico:
6 very ripe plum or cherry tomatoes
Small handful of coriander
1 small red onion, very finely diced
1-2 green chillies, preferably jalapeños, very finely chopped
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1-2 limes
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp soft brown sugarSalt 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). Dice the flesh.
2. Roughly chop the coriander leaves and finely chop the stalks and stir into the tomatoes with the onion, chillies, oil, half the lime juice, the salt and sugar. Check the flavour and add more salt, pepper or lime juice if you think the salsa needs it. Leave to marinate for at least 20 minutes.
3. To make the tortillas, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, then gradually stir in the warm water until a dough begins to form. Knead in the bowl for two to three minutes until smooth, then cover with a dish towel and 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 is sticking 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 30g balls and place on a plate, covered with a damp cloth to stop them sticking. Put one half of the plastic or parchment onto the tortilla press or worktop and place your first ball in the middle. With two fingers, gently press down on the tortilla ball to squash it into a thickish disc. Cover with the second sheet of plastic, to stop the masa from tearing or sticking, and press or roll out into a thin tortilla, about 3mm thick.
5. Peel away the top plastic, then pick up the sheet that the tortilla is on and flip it face down onto the opened palm of your hand, tortilla to skin. Peel away the plastic top and turn out the tortilla into a lightly oiled pan.
6. Cook on one side for 20-30 seconds, until the tortilla starts to look cooked, with lovely browned spots of toasting. If you are lucky it may even puff up! Turn and cook for another 30 seconds, then turn once more. Remove from the pan and keep wrapped up in a dish towel in a warm oven.
7. Put your largest frying pan over a medium heat and when hot, toast the almonds, shaking the pan until they are mostly a lighter shade of caramel. Put aside to cool.
8. Turn the heat up under the pan and add the beans in two batches. Sauté each batch for four to five minutes until they are looking a little blackened all over and starting 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 drained capers (watch for spitting if they are still a little wet). Cook for a couple of minutes or so until the garlic is golden and empty onto the beans.
9. Pile the beans into the tortillas and top with the garlic and capers, spooning over heaped spoonfuls of the tomato salsa. Sprinkle with the almonds and crumbled feta and avocado, if using, then munch with gusto.
Beetroot ceviche with tarragon, blood orange and avocado ‘crema’
Miers says “‘ceviche-ing’ beautiful vegetables, at the peak of their season has become a favourite in my Mexican feasts”.
Although, if you fancy giving this recipe a go when blood oranges are not in season, normal ones are fine to use.
Serves: 6 as a starter or fewer as part of a light meal
4 medium beetroot
2½ tbsp olive oil
30g sunflower seeds
1½ tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp chopped coriander stalks plus small handful of roughly chopped coriander leaves
2 spring onions, finely chopped
Small handful of roughly chopped tarragon leaves
Fine sea salt
Cress or pea shoots, to garnish (optional)
For the dressing:
1 Scotch bonnet chilli (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 the oven to 200C/180C fan/400F/gas 6.
2. Rub the beetroot with one tablespoon of the olive oil, followed by a little fine sea salt, pop into a baking tin and cover with foil. Roast for one hour or until tender when pierced with a knife.
3. Toast the sunflower seeds in a dry frying pan (skillet) until golden. Remove and set aside. Meanwhile, to make the dressing, put the chilli and garlic in the dry frying pan over a medium–high heat and toast on both sides until blackened all over, about five to seven minutes. Toast the cumin seeds for 30 seconds in the same pan.
4. De-seed the chilli, cut into quarters and peel the garlic. Pound a quarter of the chilli to a paste in a pestle with the garlic and several 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. Blitz 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 blitz again to a smooth, thick cream.
6. When the beetroot is cooked, allow to cool for five minutes, then pop on a pair of washing-up gloves and rub away the beetroots’ skin. Slice into rounds about 3mm, preferably with a mandolin. Arrange them in overlapping circles on a large serving plate and dress with the dressing while still warm.
7. Slice the radishes to paper-thin discs (use the mandolin if you have it). Scatter over the spring onions, coriander and tarragon leaves and the seeds and dot with the avocado cream. Serve at once with the cress or pea shoots.
“Paletas, which are essentially Mexican lollies made from the many tropical fruits native to the country, are an exceptionally pleasing way to slake one’s thirst in such a hot climate,” says Thomasina Miers.
Mango and chocolate paletas
The mango version below is delicious dipped in chilli-lime-salt, while the Mexican chocolate one is made with almond milk and drizzled with white chocolate and chopped almonds, she adds. Otherwise, try condensed milk or double 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 chilli-lime salt:
10g piquin chillies or Urfa chilli flakes
10g fine sea salt
100g caster sugar
Zest of 1 lime
For the Mexican chocolate version:
400ml almond or whole milk
Few pinches of ground cinnamon
55g dark chocolate, chopped
55g milk chocolate, chopped
1-2 tbsp golden syrup
90g white chocolate
50g almonds (flaked/slivered)
1. To make the mango paletas, skin and stone the mangoes and add the flesh (and as much juice as you can) into a blender. Add the lime zest and juice and agave with 300ml water and blend to combine.
2. Taste the mixture and add more agave if needed, remembering to sweeten more than you think necessary, as much of the sweetness disappears once the lollies are frozen. Pour into lolly moulds and freeze for at least eight hours.
3. To make the chili salt, blitz the chillies with the salt in a spice grinder or small food processor, then stir in the sugar and lime zest. Serve the mango paleta dipped into the chilli-lime-salt.
4. To make the Mexican chocolate paleta, add the milk to a heavy-bottomed saucepan and warm over a low heat with the cinnamon and golden syrup. Take the milk off the heat and stir through the chocolate until completely melted. Leave to cool and then pour into lolly moulds. Freeze for at least eight hours.
5. To decorate, 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.