Category Archives: gluten-free

The Organic Box, Baby Turnips and Peter Berley: just in time for longer, warmer, and sunnier days.

Well, I did it.

I got my husband to eat turnip and swiss chard AND like it.

All thanks to Peter Berley’s fabulous recipe for Turnip and Leek Soup with Potatoes and Chard from his Fresh Food Fast cookbook.  Did I mention it is fabulously easy as well?

I got two bunches of sweet baby turnips in my Organic Box.  For those of you who don’t know, The Organic Box is a local organic produce service.  They source out local food producers when the season permits and when it doesn’t they source from small farms across the Americas.  Even though I get to pick every item that shows up in my box, it still feels like a surprise each time I get home and open up the box to check out the great mix of fruits and veggies!  They are not just produce though.  You can add on locally produced organic milk from Saxby Dairy Producers in the south end of Edmonton, and grains and pulses from Saskatchewan farms, not to mention their newest addition locally produced organic fruit wines and much much more.

Back to the turnips.

I have never seen or, in my memory, eaten baby turnips.  They were wonderful in the soup and I imagine they would be wonderful roasted as well.  They are about the size of radishes and tied together in that familiar bunch of green tops and creamy white roots.

And now back to the soup.

I have long since learned that Peter Berley’s simple list of ingredients and seasonings make the most wonderful dishes.  I neglected to check my spices before starting the soup and I had to sub in cumin seeds for the caraway, which worked out fine, but I am sure the caraway would have been much better.

I will admit that I used to think if the dish did not contain a long list of spices that it would taste bland or need spicing up, but the perfect blend of vegetables, butter, and salt and pepper make a soup that can make anyone, even my husband, learn to love cruciferous root vegetables and leafy greens.

Leek and Turnip Soup with Potatoes and Chard

3 Tablespoons butter (substitute oil to make it vegan)
2 medium leeks
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 pound small white turnips, quartered or cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 pound of potatoes cut into 1 inch pieces (about 1 pound)
1 bunch swiss chard, stemmed, trimmed and chopped
Freshly ground pepper

  • In a 3 quart saucepan melt the butter over medium heat
  • Add the leeks and a dash or two of salt.  Saute for about 3-5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and caraway seeds and stir together.
  • Add 6 cups of water, turnips, potatoes, and bring to a boil.
  • Add 1 teaspoon salt and reduce the heat to medium and simmer, covered for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender
  • Add the chard and cook for about 3 minutes until tender.
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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Gluten-Free Baking Class? Yes Please! Part 2

Hello, it’s Ally again.

Thank you for all the positive comments on my first posting about the gluten-free baking class that Kelley and I attended at the City Arts Centre last month.

If you remember the last post featured light and fluffy celiac-friendly scones and this post goes to the opposite end of the spectrum and features crisp thin homemade gluten-free crackers!

So, let’s get right to it!

First off, even though you make your own flour, this is probably the simplest recipe I have ever made!

Making the nut flour is possible in a “drinks” blender, if it is built for it.  My blender  is made for crushing ice for slushy drinks and it worked, but for best results use a food processor.  In fact, your standard run-of-the-blender would likely not be powerful enough.

Our instructor, Jody Shenkarek, got this great cracker recipe from the Green Kitchen Stories blog:

Gluten-Free Nut Crackers

2 cups nuts and/or seeds (Kelley, Jean & I chose mostly sunflower seeds with sesame, pumpkin, cashew and almonds)
1 egg
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sea salt

Toppings: salt, herbs, garlic … whatever you like. We left them plain, but the recipe advises brushing them with Braggs liquid aminos and sprinkling sesame seeds on top.

  • Preheat oven to 360 °F (not 350°F) and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Mix nuts/seeds into a flour in a blender or food processor.
  • Put in a bowl and add egg, water and salt. Stir until a stiff dough is formed.
  • Divide in two and place half on each of the two baking sheets covered in parchment.
  • Roll out into rectangles about 2 to 3 mm thick. If dough is sticky (you bet it is!) put another sheet of parchment on top to keep the rolling pin from sticking.
  • Cut into sticks or squares mist with a little water and sprinkle on toppings.
  • Bake for roughly 10 minutes – you must watch them as they burn easily.
  • Store in jars. Make sure they are perfectly airtight as these have no preservatives and you want them to stay crisp.

These turned out so great in class, in fact out of the two cracker recipes we tried this was by far the best one.  In case you are watching your salt intake you can leave it out; Jean and I thought the added salt was quite unnecessary for our taste, while Kelley thought it was just right.

Since the crackers turned out so great and the recipe left me some latitude to to try different nut and seed combos, I couldn’t wait to experiment with different nut mixes at home.  I finally got around to it towards the end of February which was a very busy day for me.  In hindsight, I would have had much better results if I hadn’t felt rushed….

Here are the proportions of nut and seed mixes that I tried out:

Pecan: ¼ Cup Hemp Seeds, ½ Cup sliced Almonds, 1 ½ Cups Pecans!

Pistachio: ¼ Cup Hemp Seeds, ½ Cup Sunflower seeds, 1 Cup Pistachio’s, ¼ Cup Sesame

Pumpkin: ¼ Cup Hemp Seeds, ½ Cup Sunflower seeds, ¼ Cup Sesame, 1 Cup Pumpkin.

Cashew: ¼ Cup Hemp Seeds, ½ Cup Sunflower seeds, ¼ Cup sliced Almonds, 1 Cup Cashews

I love to experiment when I’m cooking and rarely stick to the recipe when making a meal, because I like more spices than most recipes call for.  Baking on the other hand is not quite as flexible, but I was fairly certain that I could safely experiment with this recipe.

So for half of the pecan mix I added about an 1/8 cup of defrosted frozen blueberries, and with half of the Pumpkin mix I added 1 tablespoon of fennel candies, which I love.

As I mentioned, I was quite rushed and tried to do too much in too little time (2 ½  hours), so I did not pay enough attention to the thicknesses when I was rolling out the cracker dough.  In addition, I only own two cookie sheets so I was pre- rolling the nut mixtures on parchment, while the first batch was in the oven, and finally, I do not own a rolling pin so I was rolling out with a juice glass.

Sigh.

As you can imagine it was a bit crazy.

To achieve better results each batch should have been split between two baking sheets rather than trying to crowd it all onto one.  Adding the berries and candied fennel certainly made for yummy flavour combos but those turned out to be more biscuit-like than the crispy cracker I was after, and they had to be refrigerated which kept them moist. Although tasty, very “uncracker-like”.

I wanted snack crackers that could be eaten without toppings so I deleted the salt. My personal favourite is the Pumpkin with Candied Fennel, next is Pecan, because they are my favourite nut and I cannot get enough of them. The Cashew was most popular with friends – even those who generally don’t favour cashews. I think it is because they were the most “cracker-like” in flavour, were the best thickness, or rather THIN-ness, and worked with toppings or with dips. I did love the taste of the pistachio sticks but they were much too thick, though I could call them mini-biscotti, and pretend that was on purpose.

I highly encourage you to try out this recipe as it is very simple and quick for a single batch, then you could comment back to Kelley about your successes, experiments and tasty mistakes!

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Gluten-Free Baking Class? Yes Please!

Hi Everyone, Ally here, I am excited make a guest appearance on Kelley’s fantastic food blog!

As you know from Kelley’s recent post she and EPC have had a very busy month or so thanks to Coco, the new adorable addition to their family. In the midst of her hectic month Kelley did make time to attend a Gluten-Free Baking Class, with me, at the City Arts Centre. It was her idea, because she loves baking, and I am the lucky Celiac friend who often benefits from her passion for new foods.

There were 11 of us in the class, all ladies, about a 50/50 split between “there for their own health or interest” and “there for their husband’s gluten intolerance.”

“Where are all the husbands?” Kelley wondered aloud.

After brief introductions and a short overview by our instructor, Jody Shenkarek (former co-owner of the fabulous Cafe Mosaics), we split up into groups of 2 or 3 and headed into the large kitchen to test our baking skills. Each group had chosen two of the recipes in the handout provided so that by the end of the evening we would be able to sample a bit of everything.

Kelley and I were joined by a lovely older lady named Jean and the three of us set to work mixing up a batch of  Basic Gluten Free Flour Mix.  We made a double batch to provide the basic ingredients for most of the groups. Rather than sifting we mixed the Basic Flour ingredients with a whisk which certainly did the trick.
Our group’s first recipe was for Basic Scones, which was very exciting! Both Kelley and I  love scones!

Baking by committee in a crowded kitchen had its challenges but we managed to gather all the ingredients measure them properly and keep track. In the recipe it says to flour a surface and your hands when splitting the dough into two batches. Well, the GF flour mix doesn’t behave like regular wheat flour so Jody, our instructor, took over – simply plopping the halved dough right onto the parchment and using slightly floured hands to shape it. It provided a good “teachable moment” for her.

Our scones turned out perfect and all three of us were quite pleased.

I have since made these scones at home adding an eighth of a cup (1/8 C) defrosted frozen blueberries to one half, and sprinkling chopped pistachios and mission figs on top of the second half. They turned out delicious! However the berries added a lot of moisture so the scones needed an extra
3 to 5 minutes to fully cook and brown nicely. Personally I think you should experiment with the options – I used to love Berry and White Chocolate, or Cheese and Spinach scones – from Good Earth Café in Calgary. The Basic Scone recipe is straightforward and easy to experiment with, so don’t be afraid to get creative.

Once our scones were in line for the oven, we set to work on the Nut Crackers. I will continue with this recipe in Part 2 of Gluten-Free Baking Class!

Stay tuned.

Basic Gluten Free Flour Mix (makes 6 cups of basic mix)

4 Cups Superfine Brown Rice Flour
1 & 1/3 Cups Potato Starch (NOT potato flour)
2/3 Cup Tapioca flour (which is a.k.a. tapioca starch)

  • Sift in bowl or put into an extra-large Ziplock bag and shake to mix – keep remainder refrigerated!

Caution: when measuring, pour into measuring cup rather than scooping it – Then level off the top with a knife.
This will avoid packing it too densely and mixing  up the proportions.

Basic Scones (makes 1 dozen)

3/4 cup of plain yogurt (I used plain dessert tofu with no problems!)
3/4 cup milk (substitute rice or soy milk to make them dairy-free)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 cups Basic Gluten Free Flour mix (see above)
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoon baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup canola oil

  • Preheat oven to 400 F.
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (NOT wax paper)
  • In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, lemon & milk – set aside
  • In a large bowl whisk together all other (dry) ingredients.
  • Once it is well mixed add the wet ingredients and the oil, using a wooden spoon until it is well combined but still clumpy.
  • Divide the dough in half and plop onto cookie sheet – flour your hands and the top of the dough shape into two (6 inch diameter) discs (add optional ingredients to the top at this point if not added already)
  • Cut each disc into 6 “pie” slices and then bake in the centre of the oven for 15 to 17 minutes – transfer to a cooling rack and serve warm.

Optional ingredients: berries – 1 cup, chocolate chips ¾ cup

Recipes adapted from The Allergen Free Bakers Handbook by Cybele Pascal.

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Dog-Induced Sabbatical and Veggie Pot Pie

My husband and I have been talking about getting a dog for a while now and we finally did it!  In fact, the dog in question is curled up right beside me as I type this post.

We welcomed Coco into our home almost three weeks ago and she is fitting in great.  We found this cute 10 month old Cocker Spaniel at the Edmonton Humane Society and could not resist her.  We are loving every minute of it, but it has not been without its challenges.  She is very timid and scared around men, so EPC has had to work extra hard to win her affections and day-by-day walls are being broken down as she warms to up him.  We have had to do a bit of work on potty-training.  And although the worst is over,(or perhaps I am getting used to it) potty training seems to be a work in progress.  Furthermore, we have to keep an eye on her every second to make sure she isn’t into something (recycling bag, laundry basket) or chewing something (furniture) that she shouldn’t be.  Of course we both love the extra exercise we are getting taking Coco out for walks, but hope the weather will warm up soon! I think Coco feels the same way.

Needless to say I have been busy, hence the absence of posts last month, and Coco, not cooking, has been the center of my attention.  Between take out from Famoso and Padmanadi, Amy’s brand frozen pizzas and our favourite bottled sauces from the Italian grocer over pasta, cooking meals from scratch has been on the back burner.  That being said we have relied on a few quick and easy favourites of Lorna Sass’s in the pressure cooker, but I have not gotten very adventurous in the kitchen.

Since EPC and I had a relaxing weekend with Coco,  I felt inspired to try a new recipe.  I have been thinking about making a vegetarian savoury pie for a few weeks now and I was able to track down a recipe for  Pot Pie in my Vegetarian Times Cookbook, so I decided to give it try.

I was wonderful and I loved the biscuit crust!  The sauce thickened up nicely and wrapped the tender veggies and chickpeas in delicious blanket of flavour. EPC had two large helpings and Coco loved the slices of raw carrot that ricocheted off the counter as I chopped them up for the stew.

It was a  perfect meal on a windy, snowy day.  Yes, despite a respite a couple of weeks ago, it seems that winter will never leave us.

PS: It comes together quite quickly so do not be intimidated by the long list of ingredients.

Vegetarian Pot Pie

2 1/2 cups of vegetable stock
1 medium onion, diced
3 celery stalks, sliced
1 large carrot, sliced
1 small red pepper, diced
2/3 cup frozen green  beans
1/3 cup frozen peas
1 19-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup whole wheat flour (Try brown rice flour to make it gluten-free)
1 cup skim milk (use soy or rice milk to make the recipe vegan)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce (use salt to make it gluten-free)
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour (or gluten-free all-purpose flour mix)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup skim milk or soy milk
2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey

Heat ½ cup of vegetable broth in a large pot. Add the onions and cook for 3 minutes stirring occasionally.  Add the celery, carrots, red pepper, peas, green beans and chickpeas.  Stir and cook for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle flour over vegetables and stir to coat.  Slowly add the milk and vegetable broth stirring constantly to get rid of any lumps.  Add the parsley, soy sauce, sage, thyme, pepper and cayenne.  Stir constantly until the sauce thickens.

Remove from heat.

In a large bowl blend the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add the 2 tablespoons of butter and blend in using a pastry knife (I like to use a large fork) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  I found I needed to add a tablespoon or two of olive oil for the coarse crumbs to develop to my liking.  Add milk and maple syrup and stir to combine.  If the dough is too dry add a touch more milk.  Knead the dough until it is no longer sticky and roll it out on a lightly floured surface in roughly the same shape as your casserole.

Pour the vegetable filling into a lightly greased 2 quart casserole and lay the biscuit topping on top.  Do not seal the edges.

Put into the oven a bake for 25 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes

Serve and enjoy.

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Sunday Night Success: Vegetable and Grain Croquettes, Beet Gratin, and Oven-Roasted Potatoes and Yams

I love making dinner on Sundays.

I am sure the same is true for everyone.  The weekend allows us  time to cook something that might take a little more time and effort than can be afforded on a weeknight. Some Sundays I make more of an  effort than others and since I had been stuck inside for a few weeks because of the inclement weather, I certainly had time to try out a new recipe.

In addition, EPC and I decided that we needed to invite our good friend over for dinner before she departs to Iceland for 3 months (she leaves on the 29th of this month!).  When I asked her  if she had any dinner requests she replied:

“Something with lots of vegetables.”

She is a vegetarian too, so I thought her comment was a bit funny.  Regardless I made vegetables the focus of the meal.

I had been wanting to try the Vegetable and Grain Croquettes from Peter Berley’s The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen.  The combination of millet, quinoa and lentils intrigued me AND I had never made croquettes before!

By the way, this cookbook is one my favourites and seems to be regarded quite highly by everyone else, since it won the James Beard Foundation Book Award and the IACP Cookbook Awards.   If you are in the market for a new cookbook I recommend that you take a look at it.

Since this dish was new to me (and slightly fiddly during the final moments of preparation), I decided to make oven-roasted root vegetables as well as a beet gratin topped with goat cheese and bread crumbs to round out the meal.  These two dishes would up the vegetable quotient without giving me much more work during the crucial point when I would be frying up the croquettes.

The meal was fabulous and left our friend commenting that she wished she could marry me and eat like this all the time.

*blush*

Anyway, I am sure she will have a marvelous time in Iceland and we will have to her over again when she returns to hear all the great stories about her time abroad.

Vegetable and Grain Croquettes
adapted from Peter Berley’s The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen

1/4 cup millet
1/4 cup quinoa
1/4 cup red lentils
1/2 cup short grain brown rice, soaked for 4 hours and drained
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
3 cups water
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup of sweet potato, peeled and finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1/4 cup onion or shallots, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup arrowroot powder
Peanut oil for frying

  • Rinse the millet, quinoa, lentils, rice and sesame seeds in a fine strainer, drain, and place into a medium pot.
  • Add 3 cups of water and bring to boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low and cover simmering for 35 minutes.
  • In a medium frypan heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the sweet potato, celery, onion, garlic, and ginger.  Saute for 5-10 minutes until lightly browned.  Add 2 tablespoons of water, cover, and cook on low heat until tender about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and put into a mixing bowl.
  • When the grains and lentils are done add to the mixing bowl of vegetables.  Mix together and add the parsley and pepper.
  • Spread the arrowroot powder on a plate
  • Now, form the croquettes!  Moisten your hands and form into a small patty and dredge in the arrowroot powder. Reserve patties on a platter until you are ready to fry them up.
  • Add 1/4-1/2 inch of oil to the bottom of a heavy skillet (I used my cast iron pan) and heat over medium high heat.  Adjust the heat according to the pan used.  When the oil in hot panfry the croquettes, about 3 or 4 at a time, for 3 minutes per side.
  • Place cooked croquettes on a paper towel lined baking sheet.

I topped with an easy yogurt sauce based on Peter Berley’s slightly more fussy one.

Easy Yogurt Sauce

1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
1 tablespoon lime juice, freshly squeezed
salt to taste
dash of maple syrup
1 cup of plain yogurt, not low fat!

Add the spices, lime juice and maple syrup to the yogurt.  Stir well and enjoy.

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Nut Free (or not) Fruit-Sweetened Granola Bars

My friend asked me about 4 months ago if I knew any recipes for nut-free granola bars.  Since I am so remiss in getting around to whipping some up, I decided to post two delicious nut-free recipes.  In this case, the granola part of the bars needs to be made first as it provides the base for the fruit-sweetened bars.

Which means breakfast time and snack time are both covered!

I do not have much to say about these bars (aside from the fact that they are delicious!) other than they can be nut-free or not.  I did decide to add almonds for EPC and I, but a mix of pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds would work just as well.

They are chewy, reminiscent of a Lara Bar, but with less structural integrity.  In response, I wrapped each bar separately and stored them in the fridge.

Oh yeah, they can also be made to suit vegans and Celiacs alike!

Seed and Dried Fruit Granola
adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

6 cups of rolled oats (not quick oats) (for gluten-free use Only Oats rolled oats)
3/4 cup of raw sunflower seeds
2/3 cup of raw pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup of sesame seeds
1/4 cup of poppy seeds
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 cup of honey (substitute maple syrup for vegan granola)
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1/4 cup oil
1 cup of  dried fruit, such as raisins, chopped apricots, and tart cherries

  • Preheat the oven to 300°F
  • Heat a large pot over medium low heat.  Add the oats and stir until fragrant, about 5 minutes
  • Add the seed mixture and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Pour the roasted oats and seeds into a large (9X13) casserole dish and add the cinnamon, oil, honey and maple syrup.  Stir well to mix
  • Take 1/3 of the mixture and spread out on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan (this step is optional, but it produces a more crunchy and darker granola which offers a nice contrast to the lighter cooked granola in the casserole)
  • Put the casserole dish and the cookie sheet into the oven and bake for 20 minutes stirring halfway through.
  • Remove from the oven and stir in the fruit.

This makes about 7 cups of granola.  When cool, store in an airtight container.

Fruit-Sweetened Granola Bars
adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

1 1/2 cup of mixed dried fruit.  I used about equal amounts of raisins, apricots, and apples
1/4 cup of oil
1/2 cup water
2 cups of Seed and Dried Fruit Granola
1 cups of seeds or nuts of your choice. I used almonds.

  • Add granola and seeds or nuts to a large bowl
  • Put the dried fruit mixture, oil and water into a food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Scrape the fruit mixture in a small pot and warm on the stove top.   When hot pour over the granola mixture and stir well to coat.
  • Line a 8 x 8 square pan with cling wrap and press the mixture into the pan.
  • Cool in the fridge for 1-2 hours until firm and slice into 12-16 bars.

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Tomatillo and Avocado Salsa

Well, even though we had to push the car into a street-side parking spot,  we made it to my work Christmas Party in January in one piece and only a few minutes late.

I cannot believe the amount of snow that has fallen in Edmonton over the last 10 days.  It is astronomical!  It must around 40 cm by now and word on the street in another 10-20 cm by the Tuesday.  And cold!  I do not think the thermometer has made it over -20°C in the last week.

Sigh.

Don’t get me wrong, I have come to terms with the fact that I live in a cold Canadian city, but with all this snow I wish it would warm up a bit so we could at least enjoy it.

In order to cope with the weather I was reminiscing about our winter holiday to Cancun last Christmas.  We stayed at The Westin Hotel and Spa and the poolside restaurant served a fantastic tomatillo salsa before each meal.  After eating the salsa every day for a week I didn’t get tired of it, but instead decided that I needed to get the recipe for myself.

The chef gave up the recipe with pride and I tucked it into my suitcase, saving it for a snowy day when I needed reminding of warm weather flavours.  I love tomatillo salsa, or green salsa as it is often called, and with the added avocado it is even better.

At the party last night I served the salsa with tortilla chips, but it would be great stand-in anywhere you would use a standard red tomato salsa.

I plan to make up another batch this week!

Tomatillo and Avocado Salsa

4 or 5 green tomatillos
3 tablespoon chopped onion
1 -2 serrano or jalapeno chiles, chopped (I removed the seeds to reduce the heat)
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1 -2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ripe avocado, mashed

  • Remove the husks from the tomatillos, wash the fruit with a bit of soap and rinse well.
  • In a small pot cover the tomatillos with water and bring to boil.  When water is boiling, reduce heat and  simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Remove tomatillos from heat and let cool for a few minutes.
  • Add tomatillos, onions, chile, lime juice, garlic, salt, and cilantro to a food processor.  Pulse until mixture is well combined.  Let cool.
  • Stir in avocado before serving.

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