With Cinqo de Mayo around the corner, what better way to celebrate the flavors of Mexico than to try out new recipes featuring the avocado, now back in season, here in California.
This year, Americans will consume 81 million pounds of avocados on Cinco de Mayo alone! That’s more than 160 million avocados in one day. Get in on the fun by trying this recipe, created for the California Avocado Commission by celebrity chefs, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, known as the “Too Hot Tamales,” and co-chef/owners of the popular Border Grill restaurants in Santa Monica, Calif., Downtown Los Angeles and Las Vegas. This dynamic duo were Food Network pioneers when their show “Too Hot Tamales” premiered in 1995. They’ve gone on to compete on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters,” and have now partnered with the California Avocado Commission to create innovative, fresh recipes featuring California avocados.
I love how this recipe is new and different and yet reminiscent of food I love. It reminds me of falafel of course, but there is also something very sushi maki about it too – like, if you were to take a california roll and fry it. Hey wait a minute. I think I’m onto something.
The recipe uses quinoa (pronounced “KEEN wah”), the high-protein, ancient Andean grain everyone is eating these days. It also calls for Cotija (pronounced “ko-TEE-hah”) cheese, a Mexican cheese with a grainy texture used as an accent by adding a tangy saltiness to dishes when grated on top. If your local grocer doesn’t sell Cotija cheese, order it on Amazon or substitute grated Parmesan.
- ⅔ cup white or black quinoa, rinsed and well drained
- 1⅓ cups water
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup grated cotija cheese
- ¾ tsp salt
- 4 green onions, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
- ½ bunch Italian parsley
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- ¾ cup canola or grape seed oil for frying
- 1 ripe, fresh California avocado, seeded, peeled and cut in ½-3/4 inch dice
- Salt to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup Aji Amarillo Aioli (see make-ahead recipe below)
- Place a small, dry saucepan over high heat. Add quinoa and toast for about 5 minutes, shaking and stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Transfer to a large saucepan and add water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, until water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, flour, cheese and salt. Add onions, parsley, egg and yolk. Stir thoroughly with a spoon until the mixture has the consistency of soft dough. Chill for 30 minutes.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- In a small mixing bowl, season avocado with salt and pepper to taste and toss gently to coat.
- Using hands, create round fritters about the size of a walnut shell with a piece of avocado in the center of each fritter.
- Working in batches, gently slide fritters into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes, turning as necessary. Drain on paper towels and serve warm, topped with Aji Amarillo Aioli.
Aji Amarillo Aioli
1 cup mayonnaise
1 lime, juiced
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp aji amarillo chile paste
1 Tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley
1. Combine ingredients in small bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Not sure where to get Aji Amarillo Chile Paste? It is available on Amazon: