Crispy Baked Avocado Tortas

What's better than avocados, you ask?  Crispy baked avocados!  And putting them on a sandwich?  Talk about food heaven!


For the Crispy Baked Avocados:

  • 1/2 cup unflavored soy or almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, or to taste)
  • 2 ripe avocados, sliced into 1/2 inch thick strips

For the Roasted Poblano Peppers:

  • 2 poblano peppers, seeded and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the Black Bean Spread:

  • 1 (14-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained (or 1 3/4 cups cooked)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For Serving:

  • 4 bolillo or telera rolls, or 1 French baguette cut into 4 sections, sliced open
  • 4 large green leaf lettuce leaves


To Make the Crispy Baked Avocados:

  1. Whisk the soy or almond milk, cornstarch and ground flaxseed together in a small bowl. Let the mixture sit for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  3. Stir the panko breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and cayenne together in a small bowl.
  4. Dip an avocado strip into the flax mixture, gently turning to coat all sides. Transfer the avocado strip to the panko mixture. Gently turn the avocado to adhere the panko mixture to each side. Place the avocado strip onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining avocado strips. Gently brush or spray the tops of the strips with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  5. Bake the avocado for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned and crisp, gently turning after 10 minutes.

To Roast the Poblano Peppers:

  1. Rub the peppers lightly with olive oil and arrange on a second baking sheet. Place them in the oven with the avocado and bake for about 16 minutes, until tender and darkened in spots, turning after 8 minutes.

To Make the Black Bean Spread:

  1. While the avocado slices and poblano peppers roast, place all of the spread ingredients into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an S-blade. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

To Assemble the Tortas:

  1. Hollow out the rolls by scooping out the soft centers. Slather the black bean spread inside the top and bottom halves of each roll, then layer with the crispy baked avocados, roasted poblano peppers and lettuce leaves.


Make sure to use avocados that are ripe, but not over ripe. They should still be nice and green and have a bit of firmness.


Spicy Korean Noodles & Tofu Meatballs

When I was growing up, spaghetti and meatballs were my ultimate comfort food. Things changed when I got older. For one thing, I went vegetarian. For another thing, I developed a taste for spicier food. When I discovered Korean food in my twenties, that immediately became my new ultimate comfort food.

So as you can imagine, when I came across this recipe for spicy Korean noodles and meatballs, my mind was just about blown. Of course, it’s not vegetarian, but that’s never stopped me before. I took to the kitchen and created my own version of the dish.





For the tofu meatballs:

  • Oil or cooking spray
  • 7 ounces extra firm tofu (half of a 14 ounce package), drained
  • 1 1/4 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup diced onion (about 1 small onion)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons unflavored soy or almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

For the noodles:

  • 6 ounces dried udon noodles
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup gochujang*
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup or agave
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

For serving:

  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • Toasted sesame seeds


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and lightly oil or spray a baking sheet.
  2. Start by making the tofu meatballs. Place the tofu, panko breadcrumbs, walnuts, onion, garlic, ginger, milk, soy sauce, vinegar, liquid smoke, flaxseed, and black pepper into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an S-blade. Pulse until the ingredients are finely chopped and well-mixed, being careful not to overdo it.
  3. Roll the mixture into 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls (you should get about 20) and arrange them on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly spray or brush the balls with a thin coat of oil.
  4. Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 30 minutes, until lightly browned, turning the meatballs about halfway through baking.
  5. While the meatballs bake, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles according to package directions until al dente. When the noodles are done cooking, drain them into a colander, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
  6. Pour the reserved water into a medium bowl and whisk in the gochujang, maple syrup or agave, sesame oil, and garlic.
  7. When the meatballs are done cooking, add them to the pot with the noodles, then pour the sauce over everything. Mix well until the noodles and meatballs are coated in the sauce.
  8. Divide the noodles and meatballs onto plates and sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds. Serve.


* If you're not sure how much gochujang to use, start with less, then taste-test the sauce and add a tablespoon at a time. The dish will be on the spicy side even with lesser amounts. If you want a much milder version, you can cut the gochujang with some ketchup.

Adapted from The New York Times Cooking.


Veggie-Packed Spanish Rice

Let me introduce you to my new favorite version of Spanish rice (or otherwise known as Mexican rice). So often when I have this side dish at a restaurant I find it lacking in flavor. But when you make it at home? You have complete control.

Now, I am by no means saying this version is authentic, but it sure does make an excellent side to any sort of Mexican fare. It is full of diced vegetables, like onion, carrot, pepper and corn. However, you can easily customize the veggies to your taste. Don’t like peas? Leave them out. Want a little more kick? Add in a jalapeno. There are also plenty of spices and a good amount of tomato flavor in the mix, making this rice anything but bland.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 medium green pepper, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes*   
  • 2 2/3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth    
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Chopped cilantro, for garnish


  1. Add the olive oil to a large skillet set over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add in the onion, pepper and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the rice. Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently (and then almost constantly toward the end of the 6 to 8 minutes), until the rice is lightly golden brown.
  2. Add in the tomato paste and stir to combine, then stir in the tomatoes, the broth, corn, peas, cumin, chili powder and salt. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and let gently simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice stand covered for 5 to 10 minutes untouched.
  3. Fluff the rice with a fork. Taste and season with additional salt if needed, then garnish with the cilantro.


*Measure out the 1 cup from a can of crushed tomatoes. You can refrigerate or freeze the rest for another use.


Asparagus and Avocado Spring Rolls with Citrus Dipping Sauce

While the weather in the south may beg to differ, the calendar still says spring which means it's a wonderful time to try your hand at spring rolls! They’re easy and fun for the whole family, and you can put a wide variety of fresh produce in them. And don’t get me started on the dipping sauce!


For the Citrus Dipping Sauce:

  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons liquid aminos or low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (see note)

For the Spring Rolls:

  • 10 asparagus spears, tough ends removed
  • 20 leaves butter lettuce, hard ribs removed
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • 2 ounces bean or rice vermicelli noodles
  • 10 large basil or mint leaves
  • 10 spring roll wrappers


To prepare the Citrus Dipping Sauce:

  1. Stir together all ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

To prepare the Asparagus and Avocado Spring Rolls:

  1. Add a few inches of water to a wide, shallow saucepan and bring to a full boil. Add the asparagus spears and cook until bright green but still crunchy on the inside, about 2 minutes. Drain the water and place the asparagus on a plate. Refrigerate until completely cool. Once cool, cut the asparagus spears in half.
  2. Fill the saucepan with water and bring it to a full boil, then add the vermicelli noodles. Cook for 45 seconds to 1 minute, or until the noodles are soft. Drain the water and keep the noodles in a colander.
  3. Fill the saucepan with 1 to 2 inches of water and bring to almost a boil. Remove from heat. Carefully and quickly lay one spring roll wrapper on top of the water, just until the full surface of the wrapper touches the surface of the water and it becomes pliable. Remove the wrapper from the water and place it on a smooth cutting board or a piece of parchment paper.
  4. Place two pieces of asparagus in the center of the wrapper, followed by the vermicelli noodles, two thick pieces of avocado, and one basil or mint leaf. Roll up one lettuce leaf and place it on top of the avocado. Wrap the spring roll tightly. Repeat for remaining ingredients.
  5. Serve immediately with Citrus Dipping Sauce or wrap rolls individually in plastic wrap and refrigerate.


You can replace the chili garlic sauce with 1 clove garlic and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes