Ever since we moved to Southern California five years ago, every spring we hear the same chorus: “You’ve got to go to
Every spring Jeff tries to convince me to drive the 2 ½ hours to see them, and every spring I find some excuse not to. It’s not the drive (I love driving). It’s just that we have flowers everywhere we look here. Plus, I'm a fall foliage girl.
Two weekends ago, however,
was all abuzz about this being the BEST wildflower season since 2005 (because of our unusually high rainfall-- a whopping 4.43 inches since last July). Jeff asked again, and I just couldn't say no. So we packed a lunch, grabbed our maps, and drove to Anza Borrego Desert State Park. San Diego
Apparently every person within the
county limits decided to go to Anza-Borrego that day too. After waiting in line at the visitors’ center for nearly 30 minutes, a park ranger told us, “It’s a sea of brilliant color out there. Almost as good as 2005! You guys definitely picked the right day.” Jeff flashed me a big smile and said, “See, we picked the right day!” San Diego
We followed his directions and ended up on a dusty, dirt road. Jeff hopped out of the car, and said, “Wow! Look at those purple flowers!”
“You mean the weeds?” I said.
“They’re not weeds, they’re wildflowers. Look at them all!” he said.
“They look like weeds,” I said.
Anza-Borrego is technically a desert, which in my translation means sand with weeds in it. Based upon the “oohs” and “aahs” I was hearing, and the obscene number of Nikon D80's snapping pictures, it seems I was the only one not impressed.
So I went along: “Ooh, look at all those purple weeds.”
OK, I admit, there were some lovely flowers, but the best part of the day was the ride home. We stopped at an orange and grapefruit grove where we bought a 15-pound bag of freshly picked navel oranges for $3 and a 15-pound bag of pink grapefruits for $4! Fresh fruit at a bargain price—it just doesn’t get better. I was very impressed.
The scenery was spectacular; we finally saw the “sea of brilliant colors” we were promised, and it was awe-inspiring. We even spotted a few idyllic farms.
We ended the day with a simple, delicious meal of shrimp tacos with citrus-avocado salsa. Our fresh sweet oranges and tart grapefruits were tossed with creamy local avocados (from Terri, who you’ll learn more about in a later post) and sprinkled on top of spicy, crispy shrimp tacos. I took one bite and declared, “Now this was worth 5 hours of driving.”
Shrimp Tacos with Citrus-Avocado Salsa
Makes 4 servings
Print recipe only here.
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
3 scallions, finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 ruby red or pink grapefruit, peeled, de-seeded, and diced
1 navel orange peeled, de-seeded, and diced
1/4 cup peeled jicama, diced
1 avocado, diced and sprinkled with lime juice to prevent discoloration
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno pepper (without seeds)
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
24 extra large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil, for searing shrimp
juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 flour or corn tortillas
To make the salsa, simply combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl and toss gently until well combined.
Place the shrimp in a large bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss well to coat and set aside for 5-10 minutes.
Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook 5 to 6 minutes, turning to ensure that they brown evenly on both sides. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 lime over the shrimp and sprinkle with cayenne pepper. Toss to coat evenly. Remove to a plate when cooked.
To assemble tacos, heat tortillas in a dry skillet over medium heat for 1 minute per side or, using metal tongs, simply hold over an open flame until warmed and slightly charred. Place three shrimp on each tortilla; serve with salsa and extra fresh cilantro for garnish. Serve immediately.
You might also like these citrus-y dishes:
- Wild arugula and blood orange salad with proscuitto
- Sicilian salad of fennel, oranges, and olives
- Mexican citrus salad with orange-lime vinaigrette
- Kona Kampachi with Meyer lemon-thyme butter
- Honeyed orange ginger muffins
- Italian Easter rice pie (with Meyer lemon)
- Warm citrus and banana cups
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