It’s time to switch out those boots for the ever-popular flip-flops, and spend the weekends enjoying the wonderful Mississippi weather. Everyone knows the second half of spring semester requires the most self-discipline, and by now, most diets consist of beer and crawfish. But fear not: vegetables and fruit are finally starting to come in season, and their prices won’t set you back from spring festivities. Plus, fruits and vegetables mean vitamins and minerals, which in turn means more energy to stay up during the longer days! Now that the weather is no longer dreadful, you’ll be able to fire up the grill and eat outside— making meals all the more satisfying. Consider adding some of these recipes to your routine; not only are they tasty, but they also keep for a while in the fridge.
Mexican Corn on the Cob
3-4 ears of corn (shucked and cut in half)
½ cup of lime mayonnaise (NECESSARY)
1 cup of cotija cheese (found by the milk, eggs, etc)
Tajin fruit & vegetable seasoning (by the fruit)
Most people raise their eyebrows at this recipe, but seriously, don’t knock it ‘til you try it. Start off by filling a large pot three-quarters of the way with water and let it boil. Place the corn in the water and boil until tender. After boiling, carefully drop the mayonnaise on the kernels. Now, pour some cotija cheese onto a flat plate and roll the corn until its surface is coated in cheese. Sprinkle a good amount of the seasoning on the corn— personally, I add some cayenne to the Tajin so it’s spicier— and presto, you have Mexican corn on the cob. This treat is extra delicious if you grill the corn instead of boiling it.
1 lb. of asparagus
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp coarse black pepper
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
This recipe goes to show the power of three of my favorite ingredients: lemon, butter and garlic! You want to heat a moderately large-sized skillet to medium-high heat. After the pan has gotten to temperature, add the oil and asparagus. Shimmy the pan every minute or so to ensure an even cook. After two to three minutes, add the minced garlic to the pan to cook it slightly in order to get a sweeter profile. Then, add the salt and pepper and give the asparagus a good toss to coat it in the seasoning. At this point, go ahead and turn off the pan, and juice the lemon right on top (juice it over your hand, though, to catch any seeds). The key to great asparagus is not to overcook it – no one likes mushy asparagus. These go well with literally any protein, or with a great vegetarian alternative.
Pasta Salad with Spring Vegetables
1 lb. of rotini (corkscrew) pasta, tricolor or plain
½ head of cauliflower
½ head of broccoli
1 green, red, or yellow bell pepper
½ lb. cherry tomatoes (half the carton, usually)
¼ lb. pepperoni
¼ lb. parmesan cheese— make sure it’s the wedge
Your favorite Italian dressing
Follow the box instructions for cooking the pasta — it should take about eight minutes for “al dente.” While the pasta is cooking, use a paring knife to break off chunks of the cauliflower and broccoli. The goal here is to get bite-sized chunks. Next, cut the cherry tomatoes in half. With the bell peppers, it’s best to cut around the core and slice the long way then across to create little squares. Take the cucumber and cut one long slice down the middle, then cut that in half, and slice; they should look like quarter circles. Same thing with the pepperoni — you want the pieces to be quarter circles and roughly the same size as all the other vegetables. The parmesan slab is the easy part. Using the same paring knife you used for the vegetables, stick it straight into the slab and apply some pressure until a chunk breaks off. Continue to do that until you’ve finished the slab. Add all the vegetables into a large bowl along with the pasta and top with the parmesan and a healthy bit of your favorite Italian dressing (anywhere from a quarter to a half cup will suffice). It’s enough pasta salad to feed an army or a handful of friends or yourself for a few days. Don’t forget to refrigerate it if you don’t finish it the first day.
Grilled Pineapple & Strawberry Skewers with Chocolate Sauce and Toasted Coconut
1 pineapple, skinned, cored and cubed
1 lb. of strawberries
1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate morsels
½ cup of toasted coconut
1 package of bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least an hour
If you don’t want to skin, core, and cube the pineapple yourself, feel free to buy the prepared whole pineapple and cut into cubes. Give the strawberries a good rinse while they’re in the carton still (you won’t have to use a strainer, win-win). Take off the leafy top, and cut in half. Next, grab a skewer and go to town with the fruit; I prefer patterns but do as you please! (Do not forget to soak the skewers in water first!)
Grilled fruit is the cat’s pajamas, especially pineapples and strawberries. Make sure to put a coat of vegetable oil down first so the fruit doesn’t burn. Because they’re loaded with sugar, you want to keep a close eye on them and make sure the flames don’t get too high- a low heat is what you’re aiming for. The skewers should not be on for more than six minutes. Personally, double boiling chocolate on a grill gives me anxiety. I prefer to buzz it in the microwave for multiple 10 second rounds, adding a ½ tsp of vegetable oil each round so it gets saucy. Usually takes about 45 seconds for half a cup. Place a pan on the grill to heat for a few minutes (do not let the handle on the heat). Add the coconut and constantly move it around so it toasts well. Once the smell hits your nose, take it off. When I say as soon as the smell hits your nose, I mean it— take it off or your coconut will burn. You can dip in the chocolate if you want. I like to take the fruit off the skewer, put it in a bowl, add a generous amount of the chocolate sauce, and finish it off with some toasted coconut. The warm fruit would also go great with some ice cream!
– Mayra Fabian