The CSA tends to offer endless ears of sweet corn, and elotes—grilled corn swiped with mayonnaise and sprinkled with cilantro, salty cojita cheese, and cayenne—may be one of the best street foods on the planet. That inspiration made its way into a fresh Mexican produce-packed version of the Vietnamese spring roll, and one of the most delicious picnics I’ve had to date.
If you can't find jicama or chayote, I suspect radish and cucumber would make fair substitutes. —AT BURNING DEGREES
SPRING ROLL FILLING
ears sweet corn, grilled or charred over the oven range, kernels sliced off
carrot, peeled and julienned
jicama, peeled and julienned
red bell pepper, seeded and julienned
poblano pepper, seeded and julienned
large avocado, pitted and sliced
large ripe mango, pitted and julienned
head leaf or romaine lettuce
package Vietnamese-style spring roll skins, round
COJITA CILANTRO CREMA
mayonnaise (the type made with fresh lime juice)
cojita cheese (if you can’t find it, freshly grated crumbly Parmesan would sub in just fine)
cilantro, stems trimmed but not necessarily removed, roughly chopped
small lime, fruit and peel
small lime, juice only
plain drinking yogurt or kefir, for thinning
In This Recipe
In a blender, puree the cojita cilantro crema ingredients on high until a very smooth, medium-thick sauce forms. Taste and adjust any seasonings to taste—the cojita is fairly salty, but you may need an extra pinch of salt.
Scrape the crema into a bowl, then place in the refrigerator while you prepare the vegetables. The sauce will thicken as it chills out, so keep the drinking yogurt or kefir on hand to thin out to your desired consistency when serving.
Julienne all of the vegetables and arrange in sections on a large serving platter. You may want to sprinkle the avocado with a bit of lime juice to prevent it from browning.
These can be made in advance or served as a picnic spread-DIY spring roll bar. To do this, you want to get an empty plate or two with a circumference wider than the spring roll skins. Fill each with a centimeter or so of water with water and place on the picnic table or blanket, along with the bowl of cojita crema sprinkled with cayenne, a stack of spring roll skins, serving plates for your number of guests, and the platter of fruit, vegetables, and herbs.
To make each spring roll, lay one skin flat on the plate of water and gently push it in. Turn over in the water a couple of times, until the skin is transparent and slightly more pliable—but not so long that it becomes soft and difficult to handle. After your skin has been dipped in water, return it to your plate and quickly lay down a lettuce leaf. On top of that, fill with vegetables, mango, and cilantro. Finish with a vertical line of sauce. Finally, wrap it up like a burrito—folding the bottom over, then one side and tucking it under the ingredients, then rolling tightly.
My tiny hometown newspaper once printed a column by my six-year-old self offering a peanut butter cookie recipe in which you put the oven "at burning degrees." Things have gotten better since then. (I think.)