THE COOL CRISPNESS of cucumbers, from long slicers to small pickling cukes, makes a welcome antidote to hot days, especially when paired with feathery fronds of dill. Toward summer’s climax, our signature green chile blankets the state.

Sure, that chile will mature to an even flashier red in a few weeks’ time, but the emerald pods own the month of August. They need the steady heat of high summer to mature. Chiles can be plucked from their bushy plants and combined with that summer squash and corn to make our perennially popular seasonal dish calabacitas. Sure, the dish’s name means “little squashes,” but it would be nothing without the supporting pops of heat, color, and flavor that the green chile provides. Fresh green covers enchiladas and burritos, of course, but it makes its way into all manner of other dishes. Find it exuberantly topping a pizza, livening up sushi or tuna salad, or zipping up the frosting on a cupcake. It’s all fleeting, but oh, what a summer fling.

Chope's Bar & Café in La Mesa, located 20 miles south of Las Cruces in a historic 150-year-old house, has been serving authentic New Mexican cuisine, like their famous chiles rellenos, for over a century.

This seasonal New Mexican bounty is some kind of miracle. Summer’s blistering sunshine isn’t far removed from spring’s last frost, and at the other end of summer, the killer cold might come to high mountain valleys well before Labor Day. We have only one major río running through the state, and while it’s grande in name, much of it is claimed for other needs besides farming. The weather can be unrelentingly dry. Until it isn’t.

Midsummer’s fearsome monsoons can wash away young plants. Often, the soil is more effective as a building material than a planting medium. It sounds like a recipe for disaster. However, the challenges mean that our state’s agriculture has stayed small-scale, with very little of the industrial agribusiness that often pollutes land and takes money out of farmers’ pockets.

Ultimately, that’s a very good thing. It means we have a wonderful network of small farmers concerned with sustainably grown, fully flavored fruits and vegetables, and markets throughout the state where folks can buy all that produce direct from the grower.

Miraculous indeed. Embrace the fleeting season.

Read more: Spring is a time of renewal. In this season, for millennia, Native American farmers have always begun to prepare the ground and land for the gardens that will grow throughout the summer and be ready to harvest in the fall.

Along the majestic High Road to Taos, Peñasco’s Sugar Nymphs Bistro, housed in a whimsical building painted with colorful murals, has dazzled diners with made-from-scratch creative fare for more than two decades. The co-owners, chef Kai Harper Leah and pastry chef Ki Holste, created this versatile ranchero sauce for several purposes: to ladle over grilled chicken breasts with mashed potatoes and seasonal veggies, as a base for green chile alfredo pasta sauce, and as a topping for eggs at brunch. Try it with chicken for a flavorful dinner, then use the leftovers for Sunday brunch.

  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 4 cloves diced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons Chimayó red chile
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ cup green chile, chopped
  • ½ chicken or vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1 cup of water
  • ½ cup canned fire-roasted tomatoes (or you can roast them yourself)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons cornstarch whisked with 2 tablespoons water
  • 6 to 8 chicken breasts, grilled
  • Mashed potatoes for 6 to 8 servings

Makes enough sauce for 6 to 8 servings

1. Sauté onion and garlic until the onion is translucent.

2. Stir in salt, cumin, red chile, and smoked paprika. Then add green chile, bouillon cube, water, and tomatoes.

3. Stir in cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce. Let the sauce simmer for about 20 minutes. It is ready to serve with chicken and potatoes once you’ve tasted it and adjusted the seasonings to your liking.

Cheryl Alters Jamison is a four-time James Beard Award–winning cookbook author, whose books include Tasting New Mexico and The Rancho de Chimayó Cookbook, and a former contributing culinary editor for New Mexico Magazine. She lives in a renovated 100-year-old dairy barn in Tesuque, where she raises a small flock of chickens.