Spicy Avocado Dip

Ever play the game where you ask yourself the one food you could never live without? I love that one. I have to admit that while there are several obvious answers that come to mind, somehow I’m always left with one answer that is clearer than others: guacamole. I love it. I would be content eating it by itself, with a spoon. When I go out for Mexican, the chips and guac order to start is obligatory, but I take it a step further and usually order extra guacamole to go with my meal. Yes, I’d have a pretty hard time ever living without the stuff.

The one thing I’ve noticed about guacamole is that while the same basic ingredients go into every recipe — avocado, lime, salt, onion, tomato — it seems like no guacamole is ever alike. Some are lime-y, some are creamy, some are chunky, others smooth. They range in flavor, texture, and heat, and I love them all.

I decided to call this recipe a dip. Despite the wide range of possible guacamole interpretation, the creamy consistency of this recipe really reminds me of a great dip. I made a big batch on Friday and Gennaro and I enjoyed it over fish tacos. I enjoyed the leftovers the next day with a healthy handful of chips.

Avocado Dip:

2 ripe avocados

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoons salt

3 scallions, greens topped off

4 jalapenos, seeded and roughly chopped (add back seeds gradually until dip reaches desired heat)

2 plum tomatoes, seeded, roughly chopped

1/2 bunch fresh cilantro

Directions:

1. Puree avocado, lemon juice, salt and scallions in a food processor until smooth and homogenous.

2. Add remaining ingredients and puree until dip is speckled but smooth, with no large chunks of vegetable remaining.

Share

Jalapeno Salsa

023My aunt made this delicious jalapeno salsa over the weekend. I loved it so much, I asked for permission to share the recipe. This is a wonderful alternative to a traditional green salsa, which is typically made with tomatillos. If you seed the jalapenos, the salsa will be quite mild, though you can always add seeds to suit your tastes and preferences. Even though it seems like the recipe makes a lot of salsa — which it does — trust me, it won’t last long. I suspect this salsa would be really great over fish or chicken, simmered with shrimp, or stirred into rice for a delicious side dish for a Spanish or Mexican meal.

Thanks for sharing your recipe, Aunt Pam!

Jalapeno Salsa:

16 jalapenos, halved, seeded and stems removed

1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped

1 bunch scallions, roughly chopped

1/2 small white onion, diced

4 roma tomatoes, diced

juice of 2 lemons

salt to taste

Directions:

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until fairly homogenous — or until salsa reaches desired consistency. Adjust salt to taste.

Share

Mexican Style Quinoa Salad

 A while ago, my cousin made a delicious quinoa salad and this is a take on that. It’s a good recipe to play around with, as ingredients can be added and taken away without changing the integrity of the dish. Try adding grilled zucchini or asparagus, roasted red pepper, or diced tofu. I’d also be interested to know how this one tastes with the addition of fresh mint.

This is a really simple and healthy lunch or dinner. It’s also great as a side or served at a party. Thanks, Kelly, for the idea!

Ingredients:

3/4 cup uncooked quinoa

1 cup canned corn, drained

1 15-oz. can black beans, drained

1 jalapeno, diced

1/2 cup black olives, sliced

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1 small red onion, finely diced

3 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

2 tablespoons canola oil

1/2 teaspoon chile powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

1 teaspoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon coriander

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or more to taste

1 avocado sliced

Directions:

1. Cook quinoa according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, in a large salad bowl, toss corn, black beans, jalapeno, olives, grape tomatoes, and red onion. In a small bowl, whisk lime juice, cider vinegar, canola oil, chile powder, cayenne pepper, cumin and salt.

3. When quinoa has cooked, add to the salad mixture. Add the dressing and toss. Top with sliced avocado immediately before serving.

Share

Quinoa Stuffed Poblanos

For a really long time, I was hesitant to prepare stuffed poblanos for the sheer dread of having to go through the process of charring, peeling and seeding each and every one. How tedious! Imagine my excitement, then, when I discovered a large can of already prepared poblanos at Whole Foods one day. One problem: they tasted awful. It was immediately clear that the earthy, smoky poblano was just not meant to be canned. How shameful I am to admit I tried to take such an amateurish shortcut! The moral of the story is take the extra 15-20 minutes to prepare the poblanos from scratch. I have also stuffed them without the added steps, but they are much more easily digested and enjoyed after being roasted and peeled.

These stuffed poblanos are tasty, vegan, and packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals. You could prepare them in advance and refrigerate. Bake later for a dinner party that will unite the health-conscious with the taste-conscious. I especially love the interplay between the hot, smoky chipotle and the sweet and surprising pumpkin.

If you’re wondering what to do with the extra canned pumpkin you will have lying around after making this, here are a few ideas: blend with extra firm silken tofu, agave, cinnamon and nutmeg for a tasty pumpkin mousse; freeze in a zipper bag for later use; or, as Woodley would suggest, store it in the refrigerator for a few days and give to your dog with meals. It helps their digestion, and my — albeit very unpicky — dog loves it.

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons olive oil

4 poblano peppers

1 cup cooked quinoa

2/3 cup corn kernels (fresh if possible)

2/3 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup Spanish olives, sliced

1/3 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from canned chipotle in adobo, PLUS 1 chipotle pepper, minced (Casa Fiesta brand contains no added sugar)

3/4 teaspoon salt

Mashed avocado with lime juice and salt (optional)

Directions:

1. Rub poblanos in olive oil and broil in baking dish or flat baking sheet for a little over ten minutes, turning occasionally to char all sides evenly. Once poblanos have charred, place in a large dish or bowl and cover with cellophane to steam. Set aside.

2. Set oven to 350.

3. Prepare filling by mixing remaining ingredients, minus the optional avocado mixture. Taste a little and adjust salt to taste. You may also add more adobo sauce or chipotle if you like more spiciness. Keep in mind that the poblanos will add some spice as well. Make sure pumpkin is well combined. Set aside.

4. Remove cellophane and rub poblanos to remove skin. It’s o.k. to leave a little on, but the majority of the skin should be removed. Using a sharp knife, make a slit down the length of the poblano on one side. Using a spoon, gently remove seeds from inside. Generously stuff poblanos with quinoa mixture. Bake for about 10 minutes to heat through. Serve alongside avocado mashed with a little salt and lime juice, if desired.

Share

Black Bean Soup

Black bean soup is one of my favorite all-time soups, so it’s a good thing this one is so easy to prepare, making it the perfect go-to weeknight dinner. While you could use dry beans and soak them overnight as I have done in the past (not to mention cook them for a few hours after that), I find I’m much less likely to make a soup that requires so much preparation. The first time I made this using canned beans, it took less than 30 minutes to prepare and was just as delicious. Now it’s hard for me to go back to how I was making it before.

For those concerned about BPA in the lining of canned goods, Eden Foods uses all BPA-free cans. I also heard a rumor that Trader Joe’s canned beans (though not all of their canned goods) are BPA-free as well.

You can top this yummy soup with a number of toppings. I’ve had a recent obsession with vegan sour cream, so I used some of that, along with tortilla chips and some avocado. Other possible toppings might include a pico de gallo, diced onions, or even fried plantains (as I’ve done in the past). This soup reheats nicely as well, making it an inexpensive, healthy dinner to last you through the week.

Serves: 8-10

Ingredients:

2 jalapenos, minced

2 medium red bell peppers, chopped

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon agave nectar or yacon syrup

1/4 cup  tomato paste

3 cans black beans, drained (not rinsed), plus 3 tablespoons liquid from can

2 cups vegetable broth

1 teaspoon cumin

2 tablespoons red wine

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Salt to taste

Toppings:

tortilla chips

vegan sour cream

sliced avocado

Directions:

1. To a large pot or Dutch Oven, add onions, peppers and oil. Saute on medium-high for about 5 minutes, or until soft. Add garlic, agave or yacon syrup, cumin and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Add beans and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for about 5.

2. Using an immersion blender (or transfering soup in small increments to a blender jar), blend until smooth. Stir in red wine and cider vinegar. Add salt to taste (I used just a small pinch — but you may need more depending on the saltiness of your tomato paste and vegetable broth). Serve immediately with desired toppings.

Share