Sandwich Wednesday: Pesto Mozzarella Paninis for Two

Another Wednesday, another sandwich! The Grill-Meister continues to kill it on Sandwich Wednesday; last week it was a vegetarian offering, a Pesto-Mozzarella Panini. The bright flavors of the pesto is perfectly balanced with the melty-creaminess of the fresh mozzarella and the righteous crunch of the toasted bread. Yum!

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This panini is very quick to pull together. The Grill-Meister gets everything prepped and then turns it into a do-it-yourself project, which means I can have exactly the right amounts of goodies on my sandwich. My recommendation is to go heavy on the pesto, because in this panini, it’s not just a condiment, it shares the main ingredient spotlight with the mozzarella.

The Panini Makings

  • Four slices of sourdough bread
  • 3/4 cup of pesto (the Grill-Meister makes a mint-basil pesto from one of our cookbooks, but you can use a good quality purchased one)
  • 6 oz. fresh mozzarella, in thick slices
  • 1 very ripe medium tomato, sliced
  • several slices of red onion, separated
  • salt (optional) and freshly cracked black pepper

Cooking Instructions

Slather pesto on both slices of bread, then top one with slices of mozzarella, tomatoes and onions. Add a liberal amount of freshly cracked black pepper. You may also want a bit of salt, unless your pesto is already just right, salt-wise. Top with the other slice of bread and cook in a panini maker on medium high until the bread is toasted, about 5-7 minutes. You can also cook this sandwich on the stove like a grilled cheese, for about 4 minutes on each side.

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A thick layer of pesto ensures maximum tastiness
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Next goes the mozzarella 
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Then the ripe tomatoes
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We like a lot of onion!
Liberal with the Pepper!
Don’t forget the pepper

Like it? You can find more Sandwich Wednesday recipes here.

I wonder what the Grill-Meister is going to make this week?

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens

 

 

Perfect for a Cold Winter’s Night: Smooth, Creamy, Wonderful Cauliflower Soup

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My parents’ cookbook, a wonderful legacy

Brrrrr! Extraordinary winter (for this area) continues here at Glover Gardens.  We’re breaking out the soups to warm up from the inside out. I’ve had a hankering to make an old classic from my parents’ cookbook, Cauliflower Soup.

I have great memories of making Cauliflower Soup with my Mom, of developing the recipe together, in fact, but when I looked back at the cookbook she created for my Dad’s real estate company years ago, that version was …  well … unenlightened.  Literally.  It had twice as much cream and half the chicken stock, plus extra butter. As an adult, I’ve been making a lighter version, although not lately, because the Grill-Meister is NOT A FAN of cooked cauliflower. He proclaims that he hates the cooked version of most vegetables, but I’ve been working on him for the decade we’ve been married and we’re starting to see that it is OVERCOOKED vegetables that he hates.

I had all the ingredients for Cauliflower Soup when Winter Storm Inga dropped in on us this week, so I took on the Grill-Meister’s cauliflower contempt as a challenge. This warming soup comes together quickly, so on Sunday afternoon I whipped it up and took him a small portion as a late afternoon snack / taste test (I was afraid to plan on it for dinner in case it got two thumbs down).

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Two ounces of yummy, creamy goodness, garnished with sour cream, nutmeg and green onions and ready for the Grill-Meister’s taste test

He liked it! He told me to be sure and mention that he was a cauliflower hater so you’d understand the significance of his appreciation.  The Grill-Meister’s biggest compliment (in his opinion) was: “It doesn’t even taste like cauliflower!” We had cups of this creamy goodness for dinner the next night with a simple green salad, and I’m pretty sure he had two servings.

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Our warm cups of Cauliflower Soup; “Mema” rolls are the perfect accompaniment

So, now that I have the Grill-Meister’s Seal of Approval, I’m sharing this recipe with you.  Cauliflower Soup is easy and quick, warm and comforting, and yet surprisingly elegant. You can serve it in shot glasses as a fun party appetizer, as a first course for a fancy meal, or paired with a salad and crusty bread for a quick weeknight supper. It can be produced as a vegetarian soup with the substitution of vegetable broth for the chicken stock, and vegan if you do that and also use coconut or almond milk instead of the cream / half ‘n’ half.

Cauliflower Soup (serves 6-8)

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower, washed and separated into florets
  • 1 bunch of green onions (about 8), chopped into 1-inch lengths
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 3-4 cups of chicken stock, preferably homemade (enough to cover the cauliflower
  • and onions in the saucepan but not more)
  • 1 cup of heavy cream (substitute half ‘n’ half for part or all of the cream for a lighter version)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 – 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated, if possible
  • Optional garnishes (you can mix and match)
    • sour cream (dollop)
    • pesto (swirl)
    • green onions, thinly sliced
    • chopped parsley
    • toasted nuts, chopped
    • more nutmeg

Cooking Instructions

Combine the cauliflower, shallot, green onions and chicken stock in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a good simmer for 10 minutes or more, until cauliflower is soft. Remove from the stove, transfer to a blender and purée. You can also use an immersion blender. Be very, very careful with the hot mixture and make sure the lid to your blender is on tight.  The purée should be as smooth as possible.

Place the purée back in the saucepan over medium heat and stir in the cream or half ‘n’ half. Bring to a simmer and then reduce to medium low, cooking at a gently simmer until thickened as desired, for 5 minutes or more.  While it is simmering, add the minimum amounts of salt, white pepper and nutmeg, then taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

Serve hot, garnished (see options above).  My minimum garnishes for this lovely and comforting soup are a generous dollop of sour cream, some green onions for crunch, and a dusting of nutmeg.

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The vegetables ready to be boiled
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Barely cover the vegetables with the stock
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Cook until the cauliflower is soft
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Puree until smooth
Add the Cream
Put back on the heat and add the cream (I used part cream and part half ‘n’ half, since it wasn’t a holiday)
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After the cream, the soup thickens nicely
Adding the Nutmeg to Cauliflower Soup
Add the nutmeg; freshly grated is best
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Rich and satisfying, this soup is a winter winner

References

Copyright 2018, Glover Gardens

 

 

 

Sandwich Wednesday: The Grill-Meister’s Tuna Steak BLT Panini (the TBLT)

As I’ve said before, Sandwich Wednesday is a thing here at Glover Gardens.  The Grill-Meister breaks out the panini maker for the midweek supper and delivers deliciousness between two slices of grill-marked bread. Read more about it here.

A recent delight was what he calls the TBLT, grilled tuna steaks nestled in a panini with the traditional BLT ingredients plus red onion and a spicy condiment. Oh yes, this was a wonderful winter Wednesday!

Since we are empty-nesters now, this recipe is for two; you can multiply it if you have a larger crowd.  It saves time and is fun if you let everyone assemble their own.  The Grill-Meister does that and I always have exactly the right amount of each accoutrement on my panini. 

Tuna Steak BLT Panini for Two

Ingredients

  • Two tuna steaks, at least 4 oz. each
  • Your favorite spice mix (we use our Everything Rub or Zippy Southwest)
  • Two tsp olive oil
  • Four slices of sourdough or your other favorite panini bread
  • Butter or olive oil
  • A spicy condiment – your choice!
  • Four slices of thick bacon, cooked the way you like (extra crispy for me!)
  • One medium tomato, sliced
  • Two more big leaves of romaine lettuce
  • Salt and pepper

Cooking Instructions

Gather all ingredients and prepare to assemble them for the paninis.

Pat the spice mix all over the tuna steaks.  Preheat a nonstick pan on high heat with 2 tsp olive oil, then add the tuna steaks and cook for about 2 minutes per side.  Remove from the pan and set aside. (You could also grill the tuna steaks; just be sure not to overcook them.)

Preheat a panini maker to medium.  Spread the four pieces of bread with butter on one side or brush with olive oil and turn over.  Spread your condiment of choice on the inside of the bread, then layer one side with the onion, bacon slices (2 each) and tuna steaks and top with the second slice of bread. Put the sandwiches on the panini maker, close the lid and cook until the bread is nicely toasted, about 7-10 minutes.

When the sandwiches are toasty and warm, with beautiful grill marks, remove from the panini maker. Open them up and add the tomatoes, then salt and freshly ground pepper, and then the romaine. Replace the top piece of bread and serve.

Note: you can steer the flavor profile of your panini with the condiment – we used Pain Train Green Salsa (from our local farmer’s market) the last time the Grill-Meister produced this scrumptious sandwich, but you could substitute a spicy mustard, a pepper jelly, an herb mayonnaise or some other wonderful condiment. Or just go whole hog and use soft, spreadable Boursin cheese – yum!

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Sear the tuna steaks in a hot pan
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Turn and sear for a couple more minutes
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Have all the ingredients ready before searing the tuna
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Condiments and onions go first
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Layer the tuna and bacon atop the onions
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Give the sandwiches long enough in the panini to get a good crust
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Open the paninis for the crisp, fresh garnishes
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First the tomatoes (we like a LOTTA tomato!), which is a good point to add the salt and pepper
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Then the crispy romaine
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And voila! you have a beautiful TBLT panini

More Panini Intel

For more about Sandwich Wednesday and the Grill-Meister’s perfect paninis, and methods check out:

fullsizeoutput_201aIt’s a Family Thing

One of my beloved nieces has a panini maker now (a gift from the Grill-Meister and me), and sent me this photo of a recent success.  I suspect I’ll be posting her delectable panini achievements and recipes as time goes by.

(Especially if y’all encourage her! Isn’t this photo enticing?)

Copyright 2018, Glover Gardens

Chili for a Chilly Night!

I’m leaving, on a jet plane…🎶

The Grill-Meister will be managing Glover Gardens solo while I’m traveling for a week, starting tomorrow. But I like to leave everything in good shape, so I whipped up a big ol’ batch of Glover Gardens Chili tonight. The Grill-Meister will not go hungry!

It has been really cold here (cold for Southeast Texas, at least) – dipping into the low 20s at night. Brrrrrr!  We even had snow here a couple of weeks ago! Glover Gardens looks like it has been dusted with powdered sugar everywhere.

In this “extreme cold,” a big bowl of  this bean-laden chili warms you right up, from the inside out, especially with its mix of fresh chili peppers.

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Tonight’s “bowl of red,” topped with grated cheese, chopped white onion and a bit of avocdo
Glover Gardens Chili
My original photo of Glover Gardens chili; I must have had time to style the photo…

Click here for the recipe for Glover Gardens Chili, and stay warm!

Copyright 2018, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Comfort Food Alert: Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread

A friend posted a picture of his Mom’s Mexican cornbread on Facebook, and started something. Dave’s peeps (including me) took notice of this good-lookin’ comfort food, with loads of comments, like:

That looks heavenly ~ I’ll be right over ~ Can almost smell it from here ~ Moms make the best food because they really don’t want us to move out!

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Doesn’t that meat-studded cornbread in a cast-iron skillet just call out: “Comfort Food! You need this now!” photo credit to Dave Smith

So of course I begged for the recipe. And lucky for all of us, Dave’s Mom shared! We decided on Mary’s Mexican Cornbread as its moniker. But now that I’ve made it, I’ve changed it to Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread. Why? Well, I’ve had lots of really good Mexican cornbread in my day, but never one with meat in it. The ground beef is added as a filling between two layers of jazzed-up cornbread batter.  This adds a welcome heartiness, kicks it up a notch on the comfort food scale, and elevates the dish to a main course that’s easy and quick enough to make on a weeknight.

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See the layers in the finished dish?

The meat layer in the middle sinks into the bottom layer of the cornbread and creates a strata with different textures from the bottom to the top; the result is almost like a tamale pie. In fact, you could substitute masa for the cornmeal and it would be very close to a tamale pie. The dish is so filling that all you need to finish out your dinner plan is some fruit or a quick salad.

Note: I made two minor additions to the recipe. First, I preheated the cast iron skillet; I learned to do that years ago from the back of a cornbread mix package. The preheating gives the cornbread a really brown crust, and we like that here at Glover Gardens. The second minor change was to use a bit of chorizo with the ground beef (this got the Grill-Meister really interested).

There are lots of other things you could do with this marvelous recipe – use fresh corn shaved off the cob instead of creamed corn, use canned green chilis or poblanos instead of (or in addition to) the jalapeños, or go a different direction with the peppers and use canned chipotle chilis, or substitute diced pork or venison for the ground beef…but don’t get me wrong, folks, this recipe is just right as-is. And trust me, it is so easy, so good and so versatile, you might just want to make two while you’re at it. As you’ll note at the bottom of this post, there are lots of other ways to serve Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread, and you’ll wish you had leftovers.

Ingredients

  • 1 to 1 ½ lbs. of hamburger meat (or a mix of 2/3 hamburger and 1/3 chorizo)
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped Vidalia or 1015 onions
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 can cream corn (14.75 oz.)
  • 4 chopped jalapeños peppers (take out seeds and ribs if you want mild)

Cooking Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400°.  Optionally, put a 10″ or 12″ cast-iron skillet into the oven once it is preheated, and let it get really hot while you’re assembling the rest of the ingredients (don’t grease it until after you preheat it). Otherwise, spray a 9 x 12 baking pan (glass or metal) with cooking spray and set aside.

Fry the hamburger meat (and chorizo, if you’re using it), drain, and set aside. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the eggs, oil and milk and stir well. Add the chopped onion, grated cheese,  chopped jalapeños and creamed corn and stir until just blended. If you’ve preheated your cast iron skillet, pull it out of the oven and spray generously with cooking spray.  Pour half of the cornbread batter into your greased pan or iron skillet and spread it out smoothly, then sprinkle the meat evenly on top. Pour the rest of the cornbread batter on top of the meat, spreading it evenly. Bake in the oven at 400° until brown, about 40 minutes. Serve hot.


 

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Goodies are added to the cornbread batter which jazz it up
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The batter, with the goodies mixed in
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Pour half of the cornbread batter in the hot skillet first, then sprinkle the meat evenly before pouring the rest of the batter on top
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Use a spatula to spread the top layer evenly
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This looks just like the picture Dave posted of his Mom’s cornbread!
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This recipe is so yummy! and would be good with sangria

The Grill-Meister is a big of Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread, and had some great ideas about other ways to serve it. How about topping it with some of my Glover Gardens Chili? Brilliant! It made a great one-dish lunch.

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The flavors of the chili and cornbread are complimentary but different, and jalapeños added a nice kick

Or how about transforming this into Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread Breakfast, with a fried egg? Double brilliant!

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Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread rocks a fried egg for a quick brunch dish with some refried beans on the side

Try this rockin’ recipe, and let me know what you think. I’ll be sure to pass your compliments along to Dave and Mary.

 

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook (except the original recipe, which belongs to Mary)

Sandwich Wednesday: Steak and Fontina Panini

Sandwich Wednesday is a thing at Glover Gardens. The Grill-Meister is also a Sandwich King and takes over the kitchen on Wednesdays, surprising me with a variety of bread-borne main courses like paninis.

I love Wednesdays!

The latest press-perfect panini featured slices of leftover grilled ribeyes and fontina cheese. The Grill-Meister gathered these sturdy ingredients along with some baby arugula we had on hand and sliced some red onions. (We think red onions make almost all sandwiches better.) He pulled out a variety of condiments and set up a do-it-yourself assembly next to the sourdough bread so we could each have a customized sandwich made exactly to our own specifications.

Steak and Fontina Panini Ingredients
Panini ingredients and a parade of condiments

As you can see, the condiment choices were bacon jam, remoulade, Dijon, horseradish cream, and more mustards: deli, creole and stone-ground. All great options, but I went immediately for the Dijon because of its classic combination with steak. The Grill-Meister decided to do Dijon on one side and horseradish cream on the other; horseradish and beef being another classic combo. I followed his lead, and let me tell you, Dear Readers, the Grill-Meister was right. The spicy Dijon and horseradish produce a dual but complementary bite that was balanced by the almost-sweet creaminess of the fontina cheese.

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Doesn’t the gooey melty cheese make your mouth water?

And hey, it’s a weeknight, so don’t go to a lot of trouble on the side dishes – paninis are great with simple sides like fruit, beans, potato salad or even just carrot sticks or cherry tomatoes.

The recipe below serves 2; just increase the amounts if you aren’t empty-nesters like us. Also, if you’re a vegetarian, don’t despair; this panini would rock with a grilled vegetable in place of the steak. You could use portobello mushrooms, eggplant or thick planks of zucchini.

Ingredients

  • 4 large slices of sourdough bread
  • Dijon mustard and horseradish cream, or other tangy condiments of your choice – see above
  • 6 oz. of sliced cooked steak, deli roast beef or pot roast
  • 1 cup loosely packed arugula (we used baby arugula but grownup greens would be ok, too)
  • 3-4 slices of red onion
  • 4 oz. sliced fontina cheese or other medium-flavored, medium-hard cheese (Gouda or Edam would be a good substitute)
  • Softened butter to spread on the bread

Cooking Instructions

If you have a panini press, set it to heat up to medium high. Spread the condiments of your choice on the bread slices, then build the panini on one piece of bread, starting with the beef, then adding the onion, arugula and the cheese. Put the second bread slice atop the cheese, then spread a light layer of butter on the top slice. When you are ready to press the paninis, turn them over and place the buttered side down on the bottom plate of the panini press, then spread butter on the top piece of bread and close the press. Push down the top slightly to compress the sandwich and cook for about 7 minutes, or until the bread is lightly browned and the cheese is melted. Remove from the panini press and serve.

If you don’t have a panini press, you should get one! But actually, you can simply heat a skillet to medium high and follow the same process, using a spatula to press down the sandwich and turning to cook the second side after the first is browned.

Note: The panini party with the leftovers is why we always, always, always grill more steak than we can eat, but this sandwich would be just as good with roast beef – either the sliced kind from the deli, or the for-real kind if you had an old-fashioned roast for Sunday dinner.

Panini Press

Glover Gardens is non-commercial, but we do occasionally recommend products, just our opinion about stuff that works or is good. That’s the case with this panini press.

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The Cuisinart panini press is perfect for the Grill-Meister’s sandwich Wednesday magic-making (photo courtesy of Amazon)

Resources

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Trout Tacos with Avocado Shisito Salad

The Grill-Meister went on a fishing trip off the coast of Mississippi recently, and brought back some lovely trout.

Goody! Now I get to learn how to cook trout. I love a new challenge.

It turned out not to be much of a challenge at all.  Trout is super-easy to grill.  And grilled trout is perfect for fish tacos.

The fish only needs olive oil and seasoning to be absolutely perfect. I use Zippy Southwest, the seasoning mix I make for family and friends. It’s great to have a big batch of Zippy SW on hand, for use in grilling chicken, fish or shrimp, or in many other ways.

These fish tacos would be great with just Pico de Gallo and avocado slices, but the only peppers I had on had were shisitos, so I created this quick salad to complement the trout. Another way to go would be to garnish the tacos with a slaw, like my Pepper Jelly Slaw. And a great sauce would be Stephanie’s Stephanie’s Green Dip. But I didn’t have any of these on hand, and was happy with the Avocado Shisito Salad; it was mild and creamy and just right.

Trout Tacos with Avocado Shisito Salad

Ingredients (serves 4)

Fish & Peppers

  • 1 1/2 lbs. trout filets
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp southwest seasoning or seafood seasoning (I use my Zippy Southwest)
  • 1 1/2 cup shisito peppers (about 18 peppers)

Avocado Shisito Salad

  • 2 large or 3 small ripe Haas avocados, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped ripe tomatoes (I use grape tomatoes)
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • juice of one lime
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt

 

  • 8-10 corn tortillas
  • Sour cream
  • Sriracha
  • Lime wedges

Cooking Instructions

Heat a gas or charcoal grill to high. Oil the grill or a perforated grill pan with cooking spray. While the grill is heating, drizzle the fish with olive oil and then coat generously with the seasoning.

Grill the fish for about 4 minutes on each side, or until it is done, while at the same time grilling the shisito peppers, removing them when they are blistered. Remove the fish from the grill, sealing it in foil to keep it hot. The fish might break up a bit as you remove it, but that’s ok – it’s going to be put in pieces in tacos. Leave the grill on.

Chop the shisito peppers, then combine the with the avocados, onion, tomato and arugula, and stir to mix. Add the lime juice, olive oil and salt, and stir again.

Grill the corn tortillas for 30 seconds per side on the still-hot grill and seal them in foil.

To serve, put a generous amount of the Avocado Shisito Salad on a corn tortilla, then top with several pieces of fish. Add a dollop of sour cream and a few drops of sriracha.

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Resources

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook