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Vegan Planet: Hot Weather, Cool Dinner

Thursday, July 3, 2008


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.

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Mmmmm - sounds delicious! Cooking in the morning and assembling at dinner time is the way to go.
I've been eating a lot of Quinoa lately (and also recommended it to my friend who is trying out gluten-free vegetarian food). I was wondering what kind of variation I should try so this was good timing.

Anyway, here are the top reasons I like quinoa:
1) it is probably the most nutritious grain
2) it is easy to prepare (I always just boil water, add 1 part quinoa to 2 parts boiling water, then turn off the stove and let it sit. Not only does it cook perfectly that way, but I'm in no danger of burning it if I forget about it)
3) it tastes good
4) its not wheat (it seems that I eat a lot of bread and pasta in the summer so it is good to have a change); it is also a good substitute for couscous, which I am not too keen on.
5) The sound of the word "quinoa" reminds me of actor "Joaquin" Phoenix, because it sounds like his name reversed. And Joaquin happens to be a vegetarian.
Carrie: Yes, I really find it helpful to do some advance cooking in the morning, not just to cut down on the heat, but in the summer it seems we keep so busy that it's often suddenly dinnertime and it's helpful to be able to put something together quickly.

Anna: I LOVE your top reasons to like quinoa (especially the part about Joaquin Phoenix). I wonder if he likes quinoa too? Great cooking tip about letting it sit on the stove, by the way. Thanks!
the recipe says to add tomato with the parsley & reserved quinoa - but there is no tomato in the list of!
Anonymous, you will find the tomato listed in the ingredient list just below the red onion and just about the minced parsley.
Sorry, Anonymous, I mean ABOVE the minced parsley, not ABOUT it!
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