Organic farm + cooking school + cabo + family = Marissa’s paradise. Yep, you’re about to hear about what might have been my favorite day ever. There were so many amazing parts of my vacation to Cabo last week–seeing whales from our balcony daily, amazing food (and drinks) with the family and boyfriend, absolutely perfect weather, but the highlight was definitely cooking school at Los Tamarindos. It was lead by agriculturist turned organic farmer and chef and resulted in the most incredible farm to table meal: chiles rellenos, chicken mole, vegetables roasted in “magic” oil, and herbed rice. Take me back pleaseeeee.
Our day started with a brief tour of this 17 acre organic farm. The chef explained to us the different methods they use for pest prevention and fertilization to keep the farm certified organic. They grow just about every herb, peppers, tomatoes, mangos, and eggplants just to name a few.
We were able to try many of these straight off the vine, including the sweetest tomatoes I have ever tasted, arugula flowers, and espazote, an herb very common in mexican cuisine.
Seriously, does it get any better than this?
After our tour of the farm it was time to get to work. This may have been the first time I’d ever seen my boyfriend, Jeff, hold a knife, and I have to say I was pretty impressed with his chopping skills. He doesn’t know it yet, but now that he’s shown his skills he’s officially been promoted to my sous chef. We started by chopping the veggies for our ratatouille-like filling for our chiles rellenos, made with carrots, zucchini, eggplant, onion, and squash.
I was put on stirring duty (and I obviously took it very seriously). To the left of me you’ll see a green vat of magic. That was the key to this class- a delicious oil packed with fresh herbs (oregano, espazote, rosemary, sage, basil, etc), garlic, and olive and sunflower oils. We used this in almost every component of the meal, and I can’t wait to keep a jar of this stuff to use in my cooking at home. Then we made a homemade fresh tomato sauce for the chiles, poached chicken and red mole sauce (no chocolate in this one which I loved), roasted vegetables, and herbed rice.
Now all I need to recreate all this at home is a massive organic farm in my backyard and an oven like this one. No problem.
Drum roll please…the final product. Here are the chiles rellenos. So fresh and healthy, with a little bit of crumbled cheese on top. These were sweet, smokey, a tad spicy, and I forsee myself dreaming about these for years to come.
The main course was our chicken mole, which fell off the bone and was the perfect combination of about 40 ingredients in this sweet and spicy sauce. Even the rice was special. In mexico they fry the grains for a few minutes before adding the liquid so it doesn’t get too sticky, and we added tons of herbs to add flavor to the rice. The vegetables were simply brushed with our magic oil and topped with extra garlic and fire roasted in the wood oven. This was meal was amazing not only because of how tasty and fresh everything was, but also because we put in so much time and love into the meal…from picking the vegetables off of the farm only hours before to the very last bite. This experience gave new meaning to “getting off your tush and cooking” for me, and if becoming and RD doesn’t work out you will likely find me working on the farm at Los Tamarindos. Kidding. But only sort of.
Nutritional highlights: Eat organic, support local farms, choose fresh/seasonal ingredients, get off your tush and cook. The End.
Here’s the farm’s website in case you want to read more about it or visit if you are in Cabo.
And here are the recipes for what we made(ish), although I can’t promise they will turn out quite the same without the fresh-off-the-farm produce and wood burning oven
“Magic” Herb Oil
Sorry, no specific recipe here, but just mix any fresh herbs you can get your hands on (we used basil, oregano, espazote, rosemary, and sage), some garlic, salt, pepper, and oil (we used a mix of olive and sunflower to raise the smoke point a bit). As long as everything is cleaned well and there is no moisture in your container, you should be able to use this for a week or two without it going bad. Proceed to cook everything you eat with this and prepare to be very happy.
Chile Relleno with Vegetables
- Dried Chile Poblano, 10 pieces
- 4 zucchinis/yellow squash
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped (half for filling, half for sauce)
- 3 green onions
- 1 pound eggplant
- 2 bell peppers (we used rainbow carrots instead of bell peppers)
- 3 pounds tomatoes
- 2 oz basil, chopped
- 4 oz queso cotija
Directions: Chop ingredients 2-7. Heat olive oil and garlic or “magic oil” if you have it in a very large pan. Add vegetables in order of cooking time, starting with carrots or peppers, then onions, zucchini, then eggplant, then 1 lb of the tomatoes. Cook for about 20-30 minutes until the mixture has softened. Season with salt and pepper.
For the sauce, heat magic oil in another pan and add the rest the garlic and then the chopped tomatoes. Cover and cook for about 20-30 minutes until sauce has cooked down. Add chopped basil, salt, and pepper.
Construction: Soak poblanos for 20 minutes in warm water and cut a slit on one side and remove the seeds. Stuff them with the vegetable filling and top with the sauce. Sprinkle with the cotija cheese and bake in at 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
Organic Chicken with Mole “Coloradito”
- 2 large organic chickens (5 lbs each), cut into pieces
- 2 large onions
- 3 carrots
- 3 celery stalks
- 2 garlic heads
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound coloradito mole paste (it has over 40 ingredients so best to buy it unless you are a super mole paste maker)
- 2 QT chicken stock
Method: In a large casserole, place the organic chicken pieces and cover with water. Add onions, garlic, carrots, and celery and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover and let the chickens poach for 90 minutes. (I think we only let them poach for about 40 minutes but finished it in the wood oven which must be why this recipe takes so long!)
Coloradito: In a saucepan, break up the mole paste and cook at medium temperature for about 10 minutes. add the chicken sauce and stir until you make a thick sauce. Pour over the poached chicken and top with sesame seeds.