Strawberry-Mint Agua Fresca

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My favorite thing about this strawberry agua fresca (outside of it being immensely refreshing) is the Persianity factor. The Iranian vibes are strong with this one, my friend: a generous addition of not just mint but heady rosewater takes this agua fresca to the next level.

You’ll be sipping this all spring (and summer). Happy strawberry season.

Strawberry-mint agua fresca

1 pound strawberries, trimmed
1/3 cup mint leaves, plus sprigs for serving
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon rosewater
Club soda
Lime wheels, for serving (optional)

1. Puree strawberries, mint leaves, lime juice, agave nectar, rose water, and 2 cups water in a blender until smooth. Transfer puree to a container, cover, and chill until cold, about 1 hour.

2. Skim off any foam from surface and pour puree into four serving glasses filled with ice. Top with club soda and garnish with mint sprigs and lime wheels.

Butternut Squash and Chicken Chorizo Hash

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Sick of butternut squash yet this season? Me neither. But seriously, it doesn’t have to be all butternut squash soup all day. Transform the humble squash into a powerhouse with this hash, decked with meaty chorizo and brightened with lime. And put an egg on it, obvs. Breakfast is served.

Butternut squash and chicken chorizo hash

2 tablespoons (or more) olive oil
8 ounces fresh chicken chorizo
1 pound butternut squash (about 1/2 of a medium squash), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
Salt
Pepper
4 eggs
Lime wedges and cilantro leaves, for serving

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high. Cook chorizo, breaking up into small pieces, until browned and cooked through, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon; reserve skillet with fat.

2. Add butternut squash and onion to reserved skillet and cook over medium-high, adding more oil if needed and stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in chorizo and season with salt. Squeeze a lime wedge over and top with cilantro.

3. In the meantime, heat remaining tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Fry eggs sunny-side up until whites are cooked through and yolks are still runny, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Divide hash among four plates and top each with an egg. Serve with additional lime wedges for squeezing over.

Queso with Turkey Chorizo

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I’m just going to break it to you now: this appetizer is definitely not healthy. Like, not even remotely. As in, I-bought-Velveeta-for-the-first-time-in-my-life-for-this-recipe levels of unhealthy.

But it’s worth it. I mean, there’s nothing quite like semi-food Velveeta to keep your queso at a smooth, dip-able consistency even after it’s cooled. A liberal sprinkling of turkey chorizo (don’t @ me, it’s actually really good) rounds things out with another layer of crumbly texture and warm spice.

After the chips are gone, you’ll be licking the bowl with this one.

Queso with Turkey Chorizo

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 ounces fresh turkey or chicken chorizo
2 1/2 cups half-and-half
1/2 pound Velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1/2 pound sharp cheddar, grated
2 teaspoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add chorizo and cook, stirring and breaking up with a spoon, until browned and crisp, 8–10 minutes; set aside.

2. Heat half-and-half and Velveeta in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until Velveeta is melted, 6–8 minutes. Add Monterey Jack and cheddar; cook, stirring, until mixture is smooth. Mix in chipotle chiles, salt, and chile powders.

3. Transfer queso to a warm bowl and top with chorizo.

Celery-Spiked Guacamole

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Remember the Great Guacamole-gate of 2015? I do. The New York Times suggested adding peas to your guacamole, and a near all-out war ensued. And understandably so. Peas do not belong in guacamole. Ever.

Nor does celery, or so I thought. I sort of hate myself for even making this recipe, but it’s really, really good. The celery adds an addictive crunch without overwhelming the avocado-lime-onion trifecta of flavor that makes guacamole, well, guacamole.

Just try it. Sorry not sorry.

Celery-spiked guacamole

Ingredients:

4 avocados, chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 serrano chiles, seeds removed if desired, finely chopped
1 clove garlic finely grated
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus leaves for serving
Salt

1. Mash avocados, celery, chiles, garlic, lime juice, onion, and cilantro in a bowl to desired consistency; season with salt. Top guacamole with remaining cilantro leaves.

Mezcal Paloma

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Move over, tequila. This citrusy Paloma is made into something complex and new with the addition of smoky, earthy mezcal. Easy to make (and uh, easier to drink), this cocktail is made brighter with the addition of effervescent grapefruit soda. Don’t nix the soda: it rounds out the drink perfectly.

Mezcal paloma

Ingredients:

1/4 cup sea salt
1 teaspoon ground chile de arbol
Small grapefruit wedge (for glass)
2 ounces mezcal
1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
6 ounces grapefruit soda
Grapefruit twist, for garnish

1. Mix salt and chile in a small bowl and spread out on a small plate. Rub the rim of a glass with grapefruit wedge, then dip into salt mixture to evenly coat rim. Fill glass with ice and pour in mezcal, grapefruit juice, then soda. Garnish with grapefruit twist.