I Snagged the Recipe

Above: If you like the looks of the salmon in this photo, follow Lisa LaValle’s lead: Spice it with salt, lemon pepper and paprika before grilling. After grilling, she added a sparing dot or two of sesame oil to “butter up” the flavor a bit. She presented the fish with fresh greens and vegetables, along with lemon-basil and amaranth sprouts.

One Recipe Does It All

Five ingredients, five minutes, tops—that’s all it takes to make Lisa LaValle’s seasonally tuned, go-with-anything condiment.

Writer: Wini Moranville
Photographer: Duane Tinkey

It’s summertime, and the living is … well, you know. So, who wants a complicated recipe this month? Not us! With our growing season in full swing, we turned to chef Lisa LaValle, owner of Trellis, the plant-centric restaurant in the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. A master of all things fresh and local, LaValle gave us a great serve-along to go with just about any farmers market find. It’s a dip, it’s a sauce, it’s a salad dressing, and above all it’s … easy!

Hot Pepper/Honey-Lime Mayo

Next time you spot bushel-baskets full of locally grown fresh chili peppers at the farmers market, bring some home for this versatile mayo. The flavors bring a touch of sweetness and as much heat as you like (see “Tips from the Chef”) for a condiment you can use all summer long. Drizzle it over grilled meats or seafood, spread it onto a sandwich or burgers, toss it into salads, use it as a dip for fresh veggies—indeed, make it once, and you’ll find many ways to love it.

2-3 hot fresh peppers, minced
(about 1/4 cup)

1 large lime, zested and juiced (about
2 teaspoons zest and 1/4 cup juice)

1-2 tablespoons local honey

1 cup heavy (i.e., not light) mayonnaise

Pinch salt

Place all ingredients in a small bowl; stir gently to combine. Store, covered, in the refrigerator up to 1 week. Makes about 1 cup.

Tips From the Chef

Chatting with Lisa LaValle while she made this recipe in the kitchen of Trellis, I gleaned the following tips:

Decide Which Peppers to Use: LaValle used jalapeño peppers for our photo shoot, but when pecks of peppers start popping up at local markets, choose ones you enjoy, whether Hungarian, serrano, poblano—or something that simply piques your interest. However, be sure to see the next point.

Taste Your Peppers: You can use any chili peppers you like; however, carefully taste them to determine how hot they are. Even a single pepper variety can range greatly in heat intensity from one pepper to the next. Adjust the measurement amount given in the recipe according to how hot your peppers are—and how hot you want your condiment.

Wear Gloves: Chili peppers contain oils that can burn your skin and eyes, so wear plastic or rubber kitchen gloves while chopping and handling. LaValle offered a cautionary tale of processing chili peppers, then going home and taking out a contact lens. Ouch. Worse yet, she had unknowingly transferred the chili oils to the steering wheel of her car; the next morning, she felt the fire all over again.

Use a microplane for zesting the limes: “A microplane zests the citrus so perfectly fine that you get the flavor of the citrus, without getting distracting chewy bits,” LaValle says. n

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