I grew up in the south where it was very much acceptable to have fried okra as a vegetable 4 times a week during the summer. My parents and both sets of grandparents grew okra in their gardens. I wasn’t a fan. And I couldn’t get away from it.
Like most things that weren’t macaroni & cheese, I had to slowly come around to appreciate okra. But only fried. And even then, only dipped in ranch dressing.
It still counted.
With containers of okra sitting in the produce section for $2 ($2!), I couldn’t pass them up. Instead of plain okra fritters, we threw in the kernels from a leftover grilled corn cob (we always throw a few extra cobs on the grill just for occasions like these!) and some goat cheese. Because everything’s better with goat cheese!
The corn is sweet, the goat cheese tangy and creamy when eaten warm. And just when you think it couldn’t get any better, try dipping it in a little homemade ranch dressing
Okra Fritters with Grilled Corn and Goat Cheese
Okra fritters get a summer makeover with grilled corn kernels and tangy goat cheese.
I love grilling season. Which, where I live, essentially lasts from mid-February to mid-November.
During the summer, the Foodie Groom’s “vegetable” of choice is grilled corn. It could be worse, I guess – although lately he and the toddler have really been digging the grilled green & purple beans from the garden.
So when I saw a recipe for grilled broccoli with chipotle-lime butter in the latest Food & Wine, I was completely smitten – and pretty optimistic that I could get by with swapping out the corn for broccoli without too much protesting.
And I was right.
The broccoli was lightly charred and smokey. The chipotle-lime butter added volumes of flavor and just a little heat. My husband declared it the best broccoli he’s ever had, which, honestly, probably isn’t saying much. But I think it was one of the better preparations of broccoli that I’ve ever had. And I love broccoli!
Trying not to negate all the good, I only used half the butter that the original recipe called for and squeezed extra lime juice over top before serving. And just like that, everyone in this house enjoys broccoli.
Grilled Broccoli with Chipotle-Lime Butter
Grilled broccoli topped with a flavorful chipotle-lime butter and queso fresco.
6 Tbsp butter, softened
1 lime, zested and juiced + additional wedges for serving (optional)
1 canned chipotle, minced, + small spoonful of adobo sauce
1 tsp honey
1 garlic clove, minced
3 heads of broccoli, cut into florets
Olive oil, for spraying or drizzling
1 cup queso fresco, crumbled
Heat grill to medium-high.
Stir together all ingredients for the chipotle-lime butter and add a pinch of salt and pepper. (Or give it a whirl for ~10 seconds in your small chopper/food processor).
Spread broccoli on a large baking pan and drizzle/spray with olive oil.
Season with salt and pepper and then transfer to the heated grill.
Grill ~10 minutes, flipping or stirring halfway through - the pieces should have nice grill marks but not be too charred.
Transfer to a serving bowl and top with spoonfuls of chipotle-lime butter (I only used half the butter and refrigerated the rest).
We are great big fans of Mexican food. It’s a shame that traditional Tex-Mex is not very figure friendly. Things are fried in lard and served wrapped in other things that were fried in lard. But it’s delicious
In an attempt to lighten up Mexican night at home, I usually target the sides. Because trying to healthify queso is just… wrong Pinto beans take a whirl in the food processor for homemade refried beans. And we swap the rice side dish for quinoa.
Quinoa is a grain that we’ve incorporated more and more into our menus over the last year. It’s higher in protein and fiber than rice and makes a healthier alternative – and it tastes a lot like brown rice.
On Mexican night, we mix a generous batch of pico de gallo and lime juice into cooked (and cooled) quinoa. It can be served warm but it really shines as a cold dish. The flavors are fresher and brighter and the veggies offer a cold, crisp contrast to the quinoa – it’s the perfect summer side dish when TexMex is on the menu.
Tomatoes, lime, red onion and quinoa make a fresher, lighter side dish for taco night.
2 cups quinoa, uncooked
4 cups chicken broth or stock
1/2 cup chopped red onion
4 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 jalapeno or serrano, seeded and diced
Juice of 1-2 limes (to taste)
Small handful of cilantro, chopped
Cook quinoa in chicken broth, according to package directions.
Place quinoa in a shallow dish and spread out, covering with damp paper towels and refrigerate until cold, about an hour. (This step is optional, but recommended)
Toss cold quinoa with the juice of 1 lime, onion, tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro. Salt and pepper to taste and add additional lime juice if desired.
Serve cold and store leftovers in an airtight bowl.
We have previously discussed my obsession love for homemade ranch dressing. Or straight-off-the-shelf-in-a-squeeze-bottle ranch dressing. And I know you guys love it, too – it’s consistently in the top 10 recipes visited here.
And if you like the spicy, smokey flavors of chipotle peppers, you’re going to love this version, too.
We’ve been keeping a jar of Chipotle Ranch Dressing in the fridge lately, instead of the regular ranch or my absolute favorite – Chuy’s-inspired creamy jalapeno.
The spicy, smokey flavors transform a boring grilled chicken salad into a reason to actually crave salad. Because I just don’t do that normally. We use it instead of mayo or mustard on our Texican burgers. And the cool, spicy sauce makes a rockstar dipper for sweet potato fries.
We bake our sweet potato fries in a spice mix. I don’t like to coat them with anything else and have gotten pretty good results (read: not floppy fries) using the method below. But a naked sweet potato fry will never, ever be crispy like a white potato fry. A fact I’ll happily accept as long as there’s a bowl of chipotle ranch nearby.
Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Chipotle Ranch Dressing
Ranch dressing infused with smokey, spicy chipotle peppers is the perfect dipper for baked sweet potato fries.
For the chipotle ranch dressing:
3/4 cup mayo (low fat is fine)
3/4 cup sour cream (low fat is fine, I replace half or all with fat-free Greek yogurt)
2-3 canned chipotle peppers with 1 Tbsp sauce
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 small bunch of chives
Small handful of cilantro
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk (optional)
For the sweet potato fries:
3-4 Tbsp oil (coconut recommended)
1 lb sweet potatoes (2 medium, no longer than ~5-6 inches long)
1 tsp ancho chile powder (substitute regular chile powder if you can
2 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp garlic powder
Dash of cinnamon
Pinch of salt and black pepper
To make the dressing, place all dressing ingredients except the buttermilk in a blender.
Blend for 10 seconds. Check consistency and blend in buttermilk if desired (less buttermilk for dipping, more for dressing).
Store in an air-tight jar in the fridge for a week or more.
To make the fries, coat a baking sheet with 3 Tbsp of oil, adding the last Tbsp if necessary. (I like the flavor of coconut oil with sweet potato fries).
Preheat the oven and baking sheet to 450. (This is a little over the smoking point of moist cooking oils, including coconut. You want enough to nicely coat the baking sheet, not pool - this will keep it from smoking too much.)
Peel and slice the sweet potatoes into 1/4-inch sticks (no longer than ~5 inches long).
In a large zipper bag, mix the dry spices together.
Add the sweet potato fries, zip close, and shake to coat the fries evenly.
Carefully put the fries onto the baking sheet and bake for ~20 minutes, flipping halfway through - this is easier to do by shaking the pan if you place the fries parallel to the long side of the pan, a couple of back-and-forth shakes and you're done.
Turn on the broiler for the last 1-2 minutes, just until the tips of the fries begin to turn black. Don't walk away - they can burn in no time.
Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate in a single layer until ready to serve.
Yields: ~4 servings of fries and ~2 cups of dressing