When I visited Mexico’s Baja California peninsula in my youth, the most notable “cuisine” consisted of fish tacos and cerveza. No more. Baja Mediterranean is now a hot culinary trend that’s gaining worldwide recognition.

The explosion in popularity of Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe wine country has undoubtedly helped put “Baja Med” on the map. Besides wines that are racking up international medals, visitors will find world-class olive oils and farm-to-table fare all the way from casual to haute cuisine.

Three elements define the Baja Med diet:

• Mexican influences such as cheeses, chicharrones, chilies and masa
• Mediterranean influences such as olives and olive oil, and herbs and spices.
• Parts of Baja have large Asian populations, so their ingredients and culinary styles have been assimilated into the local cooking.


Jamaica Orange Agua Fresca

Tart hibiscus flowers (called jamaica, pronounced ha-my-ka, in Spanish) are used for popular drinks in Mexico. Like cannabis, jamaica is antioxidant-rich and carries many health benefits. It can be found in Latin grocery stores or health-food markets.

• ¾ cup hibiscus flowers, dried
• 4 cups water
• 1/3 cup honey or agave sweetener
• 1 cup orange juice
• 12-16 drops cannabis alcohol or glycerin tincture
• Ice
• 4 orange slices for garnish

Place hibiscus flowers in colander and quickly rinse with cold water. Add flowers and water to a pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, strain flowers from liquid. Stir in honey or agave. Let cool slightly, stir in orange juice and tincture. Fill 4 large glasses with ice and divide the mixture between the glasses. Garnish with an orange slice and serve. Makes 4 servings.


Cannabis Caesar Salad

Many people are under the misconception that the Caesar salad is a classic Italian dish. Actually, Caesar Cardini invented the dish in 1924 in Tijuana.

Salad:

• 4 corn tortillas
• ¼ cup pumpkin seeds, hulled
• 24 romaine lettuce leaves
• 2 tsp. vegetable oil
• ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, shaved
• Salt

Dressing:

• 4 oil-packed anchovy fillets
• 2 small garlic cloves
• 1 large egg yolk
• 1 tbsp. lemon juice
• ¾ tsp. Dijon mustard
• 1½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
• 2 tbsp. cannabis olive oil
• ¼ cup olive oil
• Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut tortillas into thin strips and spread on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking oil. Bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Do the same with the pumpkin seeds. Set aside. Combine all dressing ingredients, except oil, in blender or food processor, and process. Add oil and process until mixture is emulsified. Assemble salad by arranging romaine leaves on plates. Drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle tortilla strips, toasted pumpkin seeds and shaved cheese on top, and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.


Ah-mazing Ahi Tuna Tostadas

Sushi bar meets taqueria in this delicious, easy-to-make recipe.

• ¼ pound sushi-grade Ahi tuna, diced
• ¼ cup seeded cucumber, diced
• ½ small avocado, diced
• 1 tbsp. jalapeno pepper, minced
• ½ tsp. minced garlic
• 2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
• 1 tbsp. cannabis-infused olive oil
• 1 tsp. sesame oil
• 1 tbsp. soy sauce
• 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
• ½ tsp. lime zest
• ½ tsp. hot sauce (more to taste)
• 1 tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted
• 2 tostada shells

Mix all ingredients, except tostada shells and sesame seeds, in medium bowl until well combined. Divide tuna mixture between two tostada shells and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.


Pesto Pasta Mexicano with Grilled Shrimp

Classic Italian pesto takes on a distinct Mexican accent in this versatile recipe. The grilled shrimp is optional.

Pesto:

• 1 cup cilantro, loosely packed
• 2 tsp. minced garlic, divided
• ¼ cup + 2 tsp. pumpkin seeds, toasted
• 1 large chipotle chile pepper in adobo sauce
• ½ cup crumbled Mexican cotija cheese, divided
• 2 tsp. fresh lime juice
• 2 tbsp. cannabis-infused olive oil
• 3 tbsp. olive oil
• ½ tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. black pepper

Pasta:

• 6 oz. regular or whole-wheat spaghetti or angel hair pasta
• 1 small avocado, diced for garnish

Shrimp:

• 6 jumbo shrimp (with tail)
• 2 tsp. olive oil
• 1 tsp. garlic, minced

Place pumpkin seeds on baking tray and toast for 10 minutes at 400°F. Put aside. Prepare pesto by combining ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds, cilantro, chipotle, 1 tsp. garlic, ¼ cup cotija, lime juice, and cannabis oil in a blender or food processor, and process. Add olive oil, salt and pepper until mixture emulsifies. Boil large pot of salted water. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. While water is heating, mix 2 tsp. olive oil with 1 tsp. minced garlic in small bowl, add shrimp and toss to coat. Cook shrimp either over medium-hot grill fire or in cast-iron pan coated with oil, about 2 minutes per side or until pink and cooked through. Drain pasta and toss with pesto. Divide between 2 plates and top each with 3 cooked shrimp. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds, crumbled cotija and diced avocado. Serve immediately. Serves 2.


Ripped Baja Rice

Fire-grilled veggies and green olives add complex flavors to this fabulous side dish.

• 2 cups brown rice, cooked
• ¾ cup black beans, cooked
• 1 medium onion, cut into chunks
• 2 fresh tomatoes
• 1 large ear of corn
• 1  jalapeño chile, seeded and minced
• ½ cup green olives, chopped
• 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
• 2 tbsp. cannabis-infused olive oil
• 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
• ½ tsp. hot sauce (more to taste)
• ½ tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. black pepper

Thread onion chunks onto wooden or metal skewers. Brush onions, whole tomatoes and peeled ear of corn with vegetable oil, and grill over medium-hot fire until slightly blackened. When cooled, chop onions and tomato, and cut corn off cob. Mix grilled veggies into the cooked rice along with jalapeño, olives and beans. Whisk together lime juice, cannabis oil, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Pour over rice-and-veggie mixture and toss to coat. Makes 4 servings.


Ganja Grilled Bananas

Make this simple dessert after the meal when the grill fire has died down to medium or low.

• 2 large bananas
• 1 cup mixed berries
• 2 tbsp. butter
• 1 tbsp. cannabis-infused butter
• ½ cup Mexican crema or sour cream
• ½ cup pecan or walnut pieces, chopped
• 2 tbsp. honey or agave sweetener
• 1 tbsp. Kahlua
• ¼ tsp. salt

Melt butter and cannabutter over medium heat in large, preferably cast-iron, skillet. Stir in the honey or agave, and nuts. Reduce heat to low and cook, about 2 minutes. Cut bananas in half lengthwise, but leave peel on. Grill face down, about 3 minutes. Use tongs to turn bananas. Cook the peel side, about 3-4 more minutes or until tender. Remove from grill, peel bananas and place two halves on each plate. Divide warm nut sauce between the two plates and surround with berries.  Place dollop of crema in the center and serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.


Elote en Vaso (Corn in a Glass) 

This popular Mexican street food is crunchy, spicy, zesty, sweet and salty, all at the same time. This recipe uses cannabis butter. Feel free to play with the proportions of ingredients to find a flavor mix you like. If you can’t find Mexican Cotija cheese, grated Parmesan makes a good substitute.

• 4 ears sweet corn
• 6 tbsp. butter
• 2 tbsp. cannabis-infused butter
• ½ cup butter, melted
• ¼ cup lime juice
• ¼ cup mayonnaise
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. black pepper
• ½ tsp. chili powder
• ½ cup cilantro, chopped
• ¾ cup Cotija cheese, crumbled
• 1 teaspoon hot sauce, more or less to taste
• Lime wedges for garnish

Remove corn from cobs and place in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 3 minutes. Drain. Mix hot corn with remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Place in mug or glass. Garnish with lime wedges.

Related Articles

Freedom Leaf Travel: Welcome to Baja California

Vicente Fox’s Global Vision: Legalization of All Drugs

A Brief History of Marihuana in Mexico

Book Excerpt: A Brief History of Edibles

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