Category: Summer Recipes


Spicy Melon Salad


We like to serve this Spicy Melon Salad in the summer when a variety of melons are abundant. Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew or other ripe melons work equally well. Bright melons paired with salty, cotija cheese and spicy pepitas make this dish a refreshing feast for the eyes and tastebuds. 

Spicy Melon Salad

Serves 6

1 tablespoon agave syrup
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
4 or more serrano chiles to taste, stems removed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, rough chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
6 cups assorted melon cubes, in 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup Cotija cheese*, cut in 1/2” cubes
1/4 cup roasted, Chile Lime Pepitas, for garnish (optional)

In a medium bowl, mix the agave syrup, extra virgin olive oil, lime juice, serrano chiles, and chopped cilantro and stir until combined.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Toss the assorted melon cubes, cotija cheese, and then dress gently with your hands or spoons.

Place the melon salad on plates and top with Chile Lime Pepitas. Add more cilantro and serrano chiles if desired.

Chile Lime Pepitas

Makes 2 cups

2 cups pepitas (raw hulled green pumpkin seeds)**
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground ancho chiles or chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lime juice

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Toss all of the ingredients together in a bowl.

Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and bake 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Shake the pan once or twice.

* Cacique cheeses are a great choice. We have been using their cheeses at Border Grill for over 25 years.

** Keep pepitas or raw pumpkin seeds in the freezer to make quick cocktail snacks for unexpected guests. They do not need defrosting for this recipe.


Kale Caesar Salad

Although some people will associate the Caesar Salad with Italian cooking, its true origins are in Tijuana, Mexico. We love the flavors of this updated Caesar Salad with kale for romaine lettuce, warm cotjia cheese croutons, and poached lemon peel.

Kale Caesar Salad

Serves 3 to 4

4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly on a mandoline
1 bunch organic, tender black (dino) kale, washed,
stems removed and torn into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup Caesar Dressing (see recipe)
30 threads Poached Lemon Peel (see recipe)
3 ounces cotija cheese, broken into crouton sized pieces*

Heat 1/2-inch of vegetable oil in a heavy bottomed skillet to 350 degrees F. Carefully drop garlic into oil, gently stir constantly until edges begin to brown. Remove immediately and drain on paper towel, salt to taste.

Using your hands massage the dressing into the kale, making sure to squeeze the greens in your hand so that you
really work in the dressing. Toss in the Poached Lemon Peels and crispy garlic chips. In the hot oil drop crouton size pieces of cotija into the fryer until golden brown. Drain on paper towel, and finish salad with warm cotjia croutons.

Poached Lemon Peel

3 lemons, washed in warm water
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
2 sprigs thyme
1/2 teapsoon salt
Remove zest from lemons without any of the bitter, white pith. Cut into 2-inch julienne strips. Bring remaining ingredients to a boil and add zest. Return to a boil, remove from heat and let sit at room temperature 20 minutes.

Caesar Dressing

2 flat salted anchovies
1 to 2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine or cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients except oil in a blender. Add oil slowly until emulsified. Add cheese and season liberally with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

* Cacique cheese is a great choice. We’ve been using them at Border Grill for over 20 years.


California Avocado Guacamole Tarts

California Avocado Guacamole Tarts

Serves 8

Border Guacamole

3 ripe California avocados, halved, seeded, peeled, and quartered
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 medium red onion, diced
2 jalapeño peppers, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place avocados in a mixing bowl. Mash with a potato masher or fork until chunky. Add the remaining ingredients and combine with a fork. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve immediately.

Guacamole Tarts

32 cherry or grape tomatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 (12-inch) flour tortillas
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon achiote paste
2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder (optional)
1 pinch cayenne pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded green cabbage
1/4 cup sour cream
1 lemon, juiced
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup California Avocado Guacamole (see make-ahead recipe above)
8 strips bacon, fried until very crispy and crumbled into bits
1/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F. Toss tomatoes, olive oil and oregano with salt and pepper, to taste. Spread mixture out in a baking pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until tomatoes are soft, juicy and shriveled with concentrated flavor. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, using a round cookie cutter, about 4 1/2-inches in diameter, cut tortillas into circles. In a small mixing bowl, combine olive oil, lime juice, achiote paste, paprika, chile powder, cayenne and salt. Brush both sides of each tortilla circle with chile-lime mixture. To create tart shells, turn a muffin tin upside down and lay the tortilla circles over the tops of the muffin cups. Bake for 1 minute at 350°F to warm and soften tortillas, and then place a second muffin tin over the top of the tortillas to create a tart shell mold. Bake for 5 minutes to set tart shape, remove second muffin tin and continue to bake until crisp and lightly golden, about 5 minutes more. Remove from oven and cool finished tart shells to room temperature before serving.

In a small mixing bowl, combine cabbage, sour cream, lemon juice, and salt and pepper, to taste.

To assemble tarts, spread a spoonful of cabbage mixture into bottom of tart shells. Place 2 tomatoes in each tart and press down lightly to flatten over cabbage mixture. Top with a two spoonfuls of guacamole. Add a generous sprinkle of crispy bacon bits and two more tomatoes, unflattened this time. Finish with a touch of cotija cheese and serve immediately.

* Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity accordingly.


Cumin Glazed Ribs with California Avocado Pineapple Salsa

Cumin Glazed Ribs with California Avocado Pineapple Salsa

Our method for tenderizing ribs and other tough cuts involves two techniques. First the ribs are baked in a small amount of water to steam and soften. Then they are briefly crisped on the grill before serving. The results are tender, sweet, spicy, wonderfully sticky ribs.

Serves 4

Dry Rub

1/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup ground ancho chiles or ancho chile powder
1/4 cup ground cumin
2 tablespoons salt
4 1/2 pounds pork baby back ribs

Honey Glaze

1/4 cup chopped garlic (about 15 cloves)
3 large jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded if desired
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons Tabasco
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup honey

California Avocado Pineapple Salsa, optional

Combine paprika, chile powder, cumin, and salt in a small bowl. Pat spice mixture all over ribs. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 to 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven or grill to 350 degrees F.

Place ribs in a single layer in a baking pan and pour in water to a depth of about 1/4-inch. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes in the oven or on grill with the lid closed. Cover with foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the Honey Glaze. Combine garlic, jalapeños, cumin, Tabasco, lime juice, and salt in a food processor or blender and puree. Pour into a small saucepan and stir in the honey. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring constantly and being careful not to burn.

Turn the oven heat up to 450 degrees F or preheat the grill.

If finishing the ribs in the oven, brush generously with the honey glaze and bake another 10 minutes per side, basting with the honey glaze every 5 minutes. To grill, generously glaze the ribs and grill 5 minutes per side, frequently brushing with additional glaze. Cut the ribs apart and serve hot.

California Avocado Pineapple Salsa

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons tequila
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 ripe pineapple, trimmed+ and cut into 1/2-inch slices lengthwise
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/2 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded if desired, and minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ripe Fresh California avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice

In a shallow bowl, combine lime juice, tequila and sugar. Add pineapple and toss to coat thoroughly. Let marinate for 30 minutes. Remove pineapple and set aside.

Transfer marinade to a saucepan over medium heat. Add vinegar and simmer, stirring often until reduced by half. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Preheat grill to medium high. Wipe grill with an oiled towel and place pineapple on grill at an angle. Cook for 6-8 minutes, turning frequently until outside of pineapple is lightly golden and caramelized.

Remove from grill, let cool and cut into 1/4-inch dice.

In a bowl, combine pineapple with reduced vinegar mixture. Gently toss in onion, jalapeño, cilantro, olive oil, salt, pepper and avocado. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Note: If making salsa in advance, refrigerate overnight and wait to add avocado until 30 minutes before serving.

+ To trim pineapple, cut off top and bottom and stand it upright. Cut off the rind, using a sharp knife in smooth downward motions. Remove any remaining “eyes” with the tip of a paring knife. Cut in quarters lengthwise and cut out woody core.