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Garden Chef Recipes

Alvaro Chavez, the executive chef at Depot Nuevo in Wilmette, has years of experience combining his passion for French and Latin American cuisines at various fine restaurants along the North Shore. Alvaro has prepared meals and demonstrated his cooking skills at various Great Chef and charity events, including the American Cancer Society’s Taste of Elegance Event. In the following recipe, he uses locally grown veggies available right now and adds a little bit of the exotic with mango and cactus leaves.

Nopales and Corn Relish Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
Makes 6 servings


2 oranges, peeled and sectioned

1 lb. baby greens

½ lb. baby spinach

1 cucumber, halved and

1 pint cherry tomatoes,

1 mango, peeled and

6 large nopales (cactus leaves), cleaned


1 cup olive oil

5 mint leaves

¼ cup red vinegar

2 teaspoons chopped onion

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 garlic cloves

⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper

Salt and pepper to taste



Corn Relish

2 ears fresh sweet corn, kernels removed

⅛ large onion, diced

 5 teaspoons chopped cilantro

 3 teaspoons olive oil

 Pinch cumin

 Salt and pepper to taste


Combine all ingredients for the vinaigrette and blend until well combined. Set aside.

Heat 3 teaspoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the corn kernels, onions, and cilantro. Season with salt, pepper, and cumin. Set aside.

Grill or sauté the nopales for 3 to 4 minutes per side, and then julienne each leaf.

Toss the greens with the vinaigrette and separate onto six plates. Garnish each with oranges, cucumbers, tomatoes, mango, and corn relish. Place sliced nopales on top of the relish and serve.