My favorite season has finally arrived! Summer is here and the farmer’s market is full of plump juicy fruits, fresh herbs, crisp sweet corn, and an array of new vegetables, including peppers. This season is a chef’s dream with a large variety of produce to inspire new menu creations. I always feel like the longer warm days naturally lend to a mood of celebrating with outdoor parties, grilling and simply prepared meals. Our new summer menu items are inspired by this and highlight the season’s best produce.

Harissa Corn on the Cob

I can’t imagine at least a few summer meals without corn. It is one of my favorite vegetables and can be utilized so many ways. Our new Harissa Corn on the Cob is a simple preparation inspired by Elote or Mexican Street Corn. You can find this delicious dish in many cities in Mexico, sold in street carts. If you have visited Mexico you may have heard the infamous shouts, “ELOTE, ELOTE!!!” of the street vendors advertising their product. After visits to Baja I almost miss this invitation to enjoy the delicious savory treat.

We start cooking our corn on the cob with the husk intact. It is simmered in a broth flavored with spices traditional to shrimp and crab boils, a bit of brown sugar and salt. Leaving the husks on during the initial cooking helps maintain all the beautiful flavors. After the corn kernels are cooked just until tender we husk the corn removing all the silk. Our version has similar flavors to Elote but we have replaced the traditional chili lime salt with a North Africa chili sauce, harissa. This beautiful sauce is made with whole chili pods pureed with cumin, coriander, lime juice, a hint of vinegar and finished with organic olive oil. We coat the corn cobs in the harissa sauce and then roast them until the kernels are just crisped and the sauce has seared into the cobs. We finish them with our house made green sriracha aioli and fresh chopped cilantro. The jalapeno-based aioli adds just the right amount of spice with a balanced creaminess from the aioli, a scratch-made mayonnaise. This side has a great kick of heat that is tempered by the natural sweetness of the corn. I love pairing this with our Habanero Mango BBQ Ribs!

Quinoa Tabbouleh with Feta

This new cold side is inspired by the traditional Lebanese salad known for its healthy, refreshing and bright qualities. Our chefs have created a modern version that is just as bright and refreshing as the traditional recipes, but pack an additional healthy punch along with incorporating seasonal produce. Our version incorporates quinoa, a gluten free, protein packed super grain containing all nine essential amino acids. We hand chop a generous helping of tender flat leaf parsley and refreshing mint leaves. This duo of herbs contains great antioxidants, promotes detoxification and act as a natural anti-inflammatory. We’ve incorporated ripe grape tomatoes to add a little sweetness and juiciness and crumbled feta cheese for bites of creamy, briny and slightly tangy notes. Sliced fresh green onion and lemon zest add a little bite and fresh lemon punch. We toss everything with a parsley lemon vinaigrette made in house with organic oils, fresh lemon juice, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and whole preserved lemons. This well balanced and healthy salad leaves you feeling satisfied and refreshed. It pairs great with our sustainable oven baked salmon or our grilled cage-free chicken.

Roasted Corn, Crab & Poblano Soup

Poblano Soup

This guest favorite that we look forward to highlighting during the season is returning this year with the addition of crab meat! This has to be one of my favorite recipes that was originally crafted at our flagship store in Del Mar, CA. Corn and peppers are ingredients that peak during the summer months. We only make this soup in the summer as the ingredients are the best during this time of the year and ensure that the final product will be the best it can be.

We start by husking fresh corn, roast it on a high heat and then cut off the kernels. The cobs are kept to make a corn stock used as the base of the soup. We then sauté organic carrots, onions, celery and garlic until they are just beginning to tenderize. We add organic potatoes, the corn stock, roasted corn and herbs. We gently simmer everything together and then partially puree the soup to create a creamy thickness without the addition of dairy or gluten. We then stir in roasted poblano peppers, raw cilantro, roasted garlic, and fresh lime juice at the end. The sweet summer corn is balanced by the creamy potato and rich – mildly spicy poblano pepper. By adding the cilantro and lime juice at the end of the cooking process we preserve the brightness of both ingredients and give this soup a clean finish. We add the wild caught and handpicked crab meat to order to ensure the integrity of the product and preserve the sweet, delicate flavor profile and firm texture. We garnish the soup with chopped cilantro. This beautiful soup is dairy free and gluten free and if you prefer no crab our cooks are happy to omit it upon request, making it vegan.

Heritage BBQ Pork Ribs

Our famous ribs are back for the summer with a luscious habanero mango bbq sauce and our grilled pineapple mango salsa! We marinate the antibiotic free and no added hormone pork ribs in our thirteen-spice mix with sesame, garlic and ginger. We then slow cook the ribs overnight until they are almost falling off the bone and finish them on our grill. They get glazed with house-made habanero mango bbq sauce that is made with chunks of mango, tamari, lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, a hint of brown sugar and a splash of rice wine vinegar. The bbq sauce has a beautiful velvety texture that coats the juicy ribs perfectly and adds a lightly sweet, salty and spicy kick. Our grilled pineapple mango salsa cuts the richness of the ribs and pairs perfectly with the bbq sauce. This is truly an Urban Plates signature and great for your summer gatherings.

Summer Antioxidant Salad

Summer antioxidant salad

With the changing season we are updating this salad with summer berries. The apples and oranges are replaced with fresh strawberries and blueberries. This beautiful salad is a great way to load up on healthy whole fruits and vegetables.

Unity Kombucha

Another healthy beverage we offer is GT’s Kombucha on tap. We have a limited-edition flavor, Unity. Kombucha is a fermented tea-based drink often flavored with fruits and herbs. Unity is made with pureed cherries, silky sweet coconut and bright lemongrass. The brewing process starts with a culture made from black and green teas. This culture is what makes the drink rich with probiotics, amino acids, polyphenols, antioxidants and active enzymes. GT’s makes their kombucha with no added sugars and is raw and organic, meaning you get the full health benefits! It is great for balancing your gut health, improves digestion, and fights free radicals in your body to give you an immune boost.

This refreshing and crisp beverage has a tangy flavor similar to apple cider vinegar balanced by the sweet cherry, silky coconut and an herbaceous pop of the lemongrass.

Watermelon Pineapple Mint Basil Replenisher

Summer replenisher

Every year I anxiously await watermelon season! Perhaps because I have fond memories of harvesting watermelons every year on the last day of school at my Uncle’s farm in Florida. Or because juicy sweet watermelon is one of the most refreshing and satisfying fruits on a hot summer day.

Our replenishers are the perfect way to refresh during the warm summer weather. Similar to anxiously waiting for watermelon harvest as a teenager I now can’t wait for the return of our popular watermelon pineapple mint basil replenisher. We hand cut juicy watermelons and blend them with fresh mint, basil, pineapple, a splash of lime juice and a pinch of salt. The sweet watermelon is an excellent way to hydrate and is perfectly balanced by the light acidity of the pineapple and lime. The herbs add a beautiful aroma and freshness to this drink that have me addicted. This replenisher has the bonus of no added sugar and being loaded with antioxidants, lycopene, fiber, vitamin A and vitamin C! This has to be one of my all-time favorites, delicious and nutritious!

Strawberry Vanilla Layer Cake

While strawberries seem to be available year-round now the ones harvested in the summer are still the best. You’re almost guaranteed to get the most sweet, juicy and tender ones this time of the year. Our pastry chef developed the strawberry vanilla layer cake to highlight this mouthwatering berry at the height of its season. Inspired by an old time favorite, strawberry short cake, the Urban Plates strawberry vanilla layer cake is composed of four fluffy angel food cake layers filled with vanilla bean pastry cream, lightly sweetened whipped cream, house-made strawberry jam and fresh sliced strawberries. The combination of the raw and cooked strawberries makes this cake unique. The jam adds a deeper more concentrated strawberry flavor, while the raw strawberry is refreshing and light. We leave the cake unfrosted so you can see all the delicious layers and bright red strawberries. This cake is the perfect summer treat, not too sweet or rich. We offer our cakes by the slice and whole, in case you feel like sharing!

Chef Jen