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Thursday, December 8, 2022

Beat the heat in Yucatán with these cool-down recipes

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Maggie Cale
Maggie Cale
Maggie Cale was born in the United States and has lived most of her life in Pennsylvania. She has a social work degree from Penn State University and finished her career in Washington, D.C. working with families. She moved to Yucatán in 2017 and has worked part-time ghostwriting for bloggers. She lives in Itzimná with her two dogs.

We know the heat index in the Yucatán is building. Soon that cool morning breeze will be gone. So what do Yucatecans eat at home in the hotter months and what foods do you find comforting? Here are a few. 

All you need to make a traditional Mayan pumpkin-seed dip. Photo: Maggie Cale

Mayan Pumpkin-Seed Dip 

Serves 6

  • 1 C pumpkin seeds                        
  • 2 tbsp. grapeseed oil
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped             
  • ½ C green onion 
  • 1 large jalapeño stemmed and chopped 
  • ⅓ C chopped cilantro 
  • Juice of 1 lime                                
  • ¼ C orange juice
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil             
  • ¼ C water
  • Salt to taste 

Sauté pumpkin seeds in grapeseed oil until lightly roasted, then place in a blender. Sauté garlic, green onion, and jalapeño until fragrant. Add this mixture and the remaining ingredients to the blender. Blend until it’s of a smooth consistency. This dip is best with fresh vegetables or pieces of warm tortillas.

Mexico’s version of a potato salad uses sweet potatoes, or camotes. Photo: Maggie Cale

Ensalada de Camote a la Mexicana 

(Mexican Sweet Potato Salad)

Serves 4

  • 4 sweet potatoes                       
  • 1 red onion 
  • 1 C cooked and rinsed black beans
  • 1 red bell pepper                                         
  • 1 C canned corn 
  • 1 jalapeño                                   
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ C orange juice                        
  • ½ C cilantro 
  • Salt and pepper to taste              
  • 3 tablespoons oil

Cube sweet potatoes and chop onion. Roast on a cookie sheet in a 350 oven until potatoes are tender. Meanwhile, chop red pepper, seed and chop jalapeño, chop the garlic clove and roughly chop cilantro. In a large bowl place rinsed beans, red pepper, and corn and add cooled cooked onion and roasted sweet potatoes. In a blender, pulse garlic, cilantro, oil, and orange juice to make the dressing. Pour dressing over salad and salt and pepper to taste.       

Citrus is essential summer eating in Yucatán. Photo: Maggie Cale

Mexican Citrus Salad    

(Xe’ec in Mayan) 

Serves 4

  • 1 medium jicama                          
  • 4 small oranges
  • 3 mandarins                                  
  • 1 lime
  • ¼ C orange juice                           
  • ¼ C grapefruit juice 
  • 1 tsp piquín pepper                      
  •  ⅓ C chopped cilantro 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Cut jicama into small cubes, add chopped oranges, seed the mandarins, and chop to add to the dish. Mix orange juice, grapefruit juice, and lime juice together and pour over the salad. Sprinkle with piquín pepper, salt, and pepper and fold into the fruit. Top salad with cilantro. If sour oranges are available, use that instead of the orange, grapefruit, and lime combination. 

Spicy Yucatán Shrimp. Photo: Courtesy

Yucatán Spicy Shrimp

Courtesy of Isabel Eats 

Serves 3

  • 4 tablespoons butter                       
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Juice of 2 medium limes                
  • 1 tablespoon of Sriracha 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped, seeded jalapeño 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro       
  • 1 lb cleaned deveined shrimp
  • Salt to taste 

Add 1 tablespoon of butter to a saucepan and add chopped garlic. Saute for about 2 minutes. Add the other 3 tablespoons of butter to the pan, lime juice, Sriracha sauce and salt. Heat until butter is all melted. Put the pan to the side to allow flavors to blend. In a pot of boiling, well-salted water, cook the shrimp for about 2 minutes or until pink. Drain shrimp well. Place shrimp in butter chili sauce and gently mix, add jalapeño and cilantro and toss lightly. Enjoy with warm tortillas. 

A few of my favorites utilize ingredients that we are able to find in Yucatán. 

Melon and Prosciutto Salad. Photo: EnriLemoine

Melon Prosciutto Salad with Mint Basil Vinaigrette 

Courtesy of My Modern Cookery 

Serves 6

  • 1 small seedless watermelon 
  • 1 honeydew melon
  • 1 cantaloupe 
  • 8 ounces of mozzarella balls
  • 8-10 slices of prosciutto
  • 4 C arugula


  • ½ C mint chopped 
  • ½ C basil chopped 
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • 1 lemon for zest and juice
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • ½ C extra virgin olive oil 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Use a melon baller and prepare all the fruit in a large bowl. Chill the fruit until ready to serve. Cube mozzarella and add large chopped pieces of prosciutto. Chill until ready to serve. Prepare vinaigrette in a food processor or small bowl. Place mint and basil in a bowl, mix in finely chopped garlic, zest the lemon into the bowl and squeeze the lemon juice. Mix all this well and add honey. Gradually stir in oil and salt and pepper to taste. When ready to serve, place arugula on a large platter and add melon balls and mozzarella-prosciutto mixture. Drizzle with vinaigrette. 

This is such a beautiful presentation for dinner guests.

Refreshing fruit salad for hot-weather entertaining. Photo: Maggie Cale

Minty Berry Salad

Serves 4

  • 1 pint strawberries, cleaned
  • 1 pint blueberries, cleaned 
  • ½ pint blackberries or raspberries cleaned 
  • ¼ C honey 
  • ¼ C lime juice 
  • ¼ C chopped fresh mint 

Place all cleaned fruit in a bowl. Then mix honey and lime juice together and pour over the fruit. Sprinkle fruit with fresh mint. 

Ginger and carrots make a cooling salad. Photo: Maggie Cale

Carrot Salad with Ginger Dressing 

Courtesy of The Healthy Foodie 

Serves 4

  • 4 carrots, grated 
  • 2 tbsp. dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp. coconut, unsweetened
  • 2 tbsp. pumpkin seeds 
  • 2 tbsp. of walnut, pecan, or cashew

Ginger dressing 

  • 1 ½ tsp grated ginger
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard 
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar 
  • 1 tsp honey

In a medium bowl, grate the carrots and add the remaining dry ingredients. In a small bowl, grate the fresh ginger, add mustard, vinegar, and honey and mix well. Pour over dry salad ingredients, chill and allow flavors to marinate for at least one hour. 

A colorful and cooling salad for hot weather. Photo: Maggie Cale

Hearty Tuna Salad (no mayo)

Serves 4

  • 2 cans tuna, drained 
  • 1 each medium red and yellow pepper, chopped small
  • 1 red onion, chopped 
  • 1 medium cucumber, chopped 
  • 2 tbsp capers 
  • 2 tbsp parsley chopped 


  • 1 large lemon, juiced 
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard 
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Italian spices
  • 1 tsp garlic 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Place drained tuna and other salad vegetables into a bowl. Combine salad dressing ingredients and stir until oil is blended well. Pour over the tuna salad mixture and chill. Serve with crackers, bread, or warm tortillas.

Flatbread is elevated in this recipe made for summer entertaining. Photo: Maggie Cale

Pear, Brie & Rosemary Flatbread

Serves 4

  • 4 flatbreads
  • 3 oz cream cheese 
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 pears, sliced thin 
  • 1 round of brie cheese
  • 4 Rosemary sprigs
  • 1 C fresh arugula

Spread a very thin layer of cream cheese on your flatbreads and sprinkle with garlic powder. Line the flatbreads with fresh thin pear slices. Top with dollops of brie cheese. Finely chop fresh rosemary and top each flatbread. Bake in a toaster oven at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or when browned. Top with arugula when ready to eat.

Who knew parsley was more than a garnish? Photo: Maggie Cale

Parsley Salad

From my friend Cathy Quinn. Who knew this would be so flavorful?

Serves 4

  • 5 C flat-leaf parsley, stems removed 
  • ¼ C extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • ¼ C toasted sesame seeds 
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar 
  • ½ C dried cranberries
  • ½ red onion
  • Salt and pepper to taste  

Rinse parsley leaves lightly and cool in the refrigerator while making the dressing. Whisk extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper together. Add lemon juice and sesame oil and whisk again. Fold in onion and dried cranberries, and then drizzle over parsley leaves. When ready to serve, top with toasted sesame seeds. A nice light salad that goes well with chicken or fish. 

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