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Hot Weather, Cool Dinner

With the temperature back into the 90s this week, I’ve been favoring lighter meals that don’t heat up the kitchen.

The Quinoa-Stuffed Avocados from Vegan Fire & Spice, really hit the spot for last night’s dinner. I cooked up the quinoa early and then assembled the rest of the ingredients just before dinnertime.

The recipe can serve four people for a light lunch or salad course, but if you’re serving it as I did (as dinner for two hungry adults with a taste for quinoa and avocados), then it serves two.

Do I need to mention how nutritious quinoa is? If you’re not familiar with this hearty South American grain, it’s super-high in protein and rich in iron and other nutrients. It has a delicious nut-like flavor and is very satisfying.

Quinoa-Stuffed Avocados

This recipe is from my book, Vegan Fire and Spice.

3/4 cup quinoa
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, minced
1 ripe tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 ripe Haas avocados
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 large butter lettuce leaves

Cook the quinoa according to package directions. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes to soften. Transfer the onion to a bowl. Add the reserved quinoa, tomato, parsley, salt, and pepper, and mix until well combined.
Carefully halve the avocados lengthwise and remove the pits. Running a small knife around the between the avocado skin and flesh, remove the pulp, keeping the shells intact.
Cut the avocado pulp into 1/2-inch dice and add to the quinoa mixture. Add the lemon juice and the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and toss gently to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Spoon the mixture into the reserved avocado shells and serve immediately on salad plates lined with lettuce leaves.

Happy Cinco de Mayo

Couldn’t let Cinco de Mayo pass without posting a recipe in honor of the occasion. This rich creamy soup has a refreshing note of lime and is especially good made with homemade salsa. To save time, you can use a bottled salsa and instead of making your own tortilla strips, simply garnish with some corn chips.

Contest Count-down: If it’s May 5 that means there’s only 5 days left to send me your lovely Couscous Cake photos. It’s your chance to win a cookbook and go down in couscous cake history! (For contest details, check out my April 10th post.) Go to the contact page of my website to e-mail your submission.

Creamy Tortilla Soup
This recipe is from my book, Quick-Fix Vegetarian.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cups tomato salsa
3 1/2 to 4 cups vegetable broth
2 ripe Haas avocados
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or cilantro
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 corn tortillas

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Stir in 1 cup of the salsa and 3 cups of the broth and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Halve and pit one of the avocados and place it in a blender or food processor. Add the soup mixture and process until smooth. Transfer back to the pot, add the lime juice and parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper, and remaining broth, if needed. Simmer over low heat while you toast the tortillas.
Lightly brush the tortillas with oil and cut them into thin strips, about 1/4-inch wide by 2-inches long. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the tortilla strips and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes.
Just before serving, halve, pit, and dice the remaining avocado and stir half of it into the soup. To serve, garnish the soup with the remaining diced avocado, remaining 1/2 cup salsa, and the tortilla strips.

Serves 4