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Quinoa, Avocado, and Sweet Potato Timbale with Roasted Tomatillo Dressing

August 30, 2010

Submitted by Chef Tal Ronnen

I made this dish for the reopening of a Fort Lauderdale restaurant called Sublime, and it became one of the best-selling salads there. Sublime is a great place owned by animal activist Nanci Alexander-she gives all the profits to organizations that promote animal welfare and a vegan lifestyle. This salad is hearty, thanks to the sweet potato and quinoa, and also makes an impressive presentation.

For the quinoa:

1 cup quinoa, cooked in vegetable stock according to package directions and cooled to room temperature
½ jalapeño, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the sweet potatoes:
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dresssing:
2 tomatillos in olive oil, skins removed
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon light agave nectar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the tortilla strips:
Canola oil
2 corn tortillas, cut into ¼-inch strips
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

To serve:
2 avocados, diced

1. Make the quinoa: Place all of the quinoa ingredients in a medium bowl and toss to combine.

2. Make the sweet potatoes: Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a small bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with the oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread in 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.

3.Make the dressing: Lower the oven temperature to 350°F. In a small bowl, toss the tomatillos with 1 teaspoon of the oil. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Transfer to a food processor, add the vinegar, cilantro, and agave nectar, and pulse to combine. With the motor running, pour in the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a thin stream. Continue blending until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Make the tortilla strips: Pour 2 inches of 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 the Cajun seasoning.

5.Assemble the salads: Place a 3-inch ring mold in the center of one of 4 salad plates. Fill with ¼ of the quinoa mixture and press down with a spoon to pack the mold, smoothing the top. Place ¼ of the sweet potato pieces on top of the quinoa and press down gently. Top with ¼ of the avocado and press down gently. Carefully remove the mold. Repeat on the remaining salad plates.

6.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.

Makes 4 servings
Prep time: 45 minutes

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