What can I say, I am married to a rather strange man. Like some other strange people, my husband eats with his eyes first. Even the most fantastically tasting food is not likely to receive his appreciation if the appearance does not get his attention. In other words, for him it has to look good to taste good.
Inspiration for making this Quinoa, Avocado, and Sweet Potato Timbale came to me a few weeks ago at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen. Every plate at this trendy restaurant played on unexpected textures and flavors, and was assembled with fine architectural precision, looking less like food and more like a museum of modern art masterpiece.
My first attempt at creative plating and food styling, Quinoa Timbale definitely passes for something that came out of Dry Creek Kitchen. Very pretty and very edible, this dish impressed the heck out of my dear husband!
Quinoa, Avocado, and Sweet Potato Timbale
Adapted from Tal Ronnen’s new book
The Conscious Cook: Delicious Meatless Recipes That Will Change the Way You Eat
- 2 cup quinoa, cooked in vegetable stock and cooled to room temperature
- 1 jalapeño, minced
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced and divided
- 2 small/medium size sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 6 tablespoons plus 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Canola Oil
- 4 corn tortillas, cut into 1/4-inch strips
- 2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
- Juice of 2 limes
- 4 tomatillos (fresh or in olive oil with skins removed)
- 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoon light agave nectar
- 4 avocados, diced
- In a medium bowl place quinoa, jalapeño, 2 tablespoon cilantro, 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste, and toss to combine.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with 2 teaspoons olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes, or until soft in the middle and lightly browned; be careful not to let the sweet potatoes burn.
- Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, toss the tomatillos with 2 teaspoon of olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Transfer to a food processor, add the vinegar, 1/2 cup cilantro, and agave nectar, and pulse to combine. With the motor running, pour in the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a thin stream. Continue blending until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour 2 inches of canola oil into a small, heavy pot and heat until the oil shimmers. Add the tortilla strips and fry until crisp and browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with Cajun seasoning. If you want to reduce amount of fat, you can bake tortilla strips instead.
- Place a 3-inch ring mold in the center of one of 4 salad plates. Fill with 1/4 of the quinoa mixture and press down with a spoon to pack the mold, smoothing the top. Place 1/4 of the sweet potato pieces on top of the quinoa and press down gently. Top with 1/4 of the avocado and press down gently. Carefully remove the mold. Repeat on the remaining salad plates.
- Carefully place 2 tortilla strips parallel to each other about 1 inch apart on top of each timbale. Place 2 more tortilla strips perpendicular on top of those. Top the timbales with the microgreens and drizzle the dressing around the timbales
A fruity Momo Sauvignon Blanc 2009 has a strong body, which allows it to work well with this Quinoa Timbale.