Quinoa, Sweet Potato and Avocado Timbale with Roasted Tomatillo Dressing

What’s a timbale, you ask? It’s usually a drum-shaped pastry mold filled with meat, cheese, chicken, fish or vegetables in a custard-like sauce. Our version today, in celebration of World Diabetes Day, will be lightened up significantly. Protein-rich quinoa replaces the pastry, we’re skipping the meat and cheese, and our sauce is a low-fat dressing made from roasted tomatillos. What a way to celebrate!

Quinoa Sweet Potato Avocado Timbale with Roasted Tomatillo Dressing

Virtual Potluck has teamed up with Microplane® and Anolon® to bring you some fabulous diabetic-friendly dishes. It would be great if you would also thank our terrific sponsors by visiting them on Facebook (Microplane, Anolon) and Twitter (@Microplane , @Anolon).

World Diabetes Day - November 14, 2013November is National Diabetes Month and today is World Diabetes Day. Both initiatives are all about raising diabetes awareness. For example, did you know that more than 371 million people have diabetes and half of them don’t even know it? Diabetes is a health crisis in our country and the more informed you are, the better off you’ll be. Don’t be one of the 4.8 million people who dies from diabetes-related complications every year.

Now, let’s talk about food! People with diabetes can eat so many delicious foods such as this Quinoa, Sweet Potato and Avocado Timbale with Roasted Tomatillo Dressing.

Quinoa Sweet Potato Avocado Timbale with Roasted Tomatillo Dressing

Some notes on the timbale recipe

  • I know there are a lot of steps and the recipe seems complicated, but each step is easy to do and the final product looks really impressive.
  • Most of the recipe (up through making the tortilla strips) can be done ahead of time.
  • If you don’t have a ring mold, just add the sweet potatoes and avocado to the quinoa mixture, squirt on some dressing, then top each serving with tortilla strips and pea shoots. Or, if you want to make your own ring mold, you can use a tuna-sized can with top and bottom removed or a short length of PVC pipe.
  • I love flavored olive oils and used a couple of different ones in this recipe – butternut squash seed oil for roasting the sweet potato and Persian lime for the tomatillo dressing. Regular old olive oil will work just fine if you don’t have any exotic variations.
  • I used the Anolon Advanced 3.5 quart Covered Straining Saucepan to cook the quinoa. I must admit I let the cooking go a little longer than it should have, but even with a few stuck bits of quinoa, the pan cleaned up like a dream. I love the way the pouring spouts can be covered up by twisting the lid if you are cooking something where you don’t want the steam to escape.
  • I had planned to use the Microplane Adjustable Slicer to cut my sweet potatoes into strips before dicing them, but the julienne attachment made the strips thinner than I wanted for this particular recipe. The slicer worked great for thinly slicing zucchini and squash for another recipe, however. I love that this slicer is so much easier to store than a regular mandolin. I do recommend putting the “foot” of the slicer into the groove of your cutting board for extra stability.
Quinoa, Sweet Potato and Avocado Timbale with Roasted Tomatillo Dressing
Vegan quinoa timbale with sweet potato, avocado, corn tortilla strips and pea shoots topped with a roasted tomatillo dressing
Serves: 6
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1-1/2 cups vegetable stock

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced (about ¾ pound)
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil (I used butternut squash seed-flavored EVOO)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 medium fresh tomatillos
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil (I used Persian lime-infused EVOO)

  • juice from 1 lime, divided
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I used Persian lime-infused EVOO)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • ½ tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 corn tortillas, cut in half, then cut into strips
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

  • 1 avocado
  • Sweet pea shoots, sprouts or microgreens
  1. Prepare the quinoa, step 1: Place quinoa and vegetable stock in a saucepan. (I used the Anolon Advanced 3 quart covered straining saucepan.) Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until all stock is absorbed. Spread on baking sheet to cool.
  2. Roast the sweet potatoes and tomatillos: Preheat oven to 375°F. Toss sweet potatoes with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a small baking sheet. Toss tomatillos in 1 teaspoon olive oil and place on a second small baking sheet. Place both baking sheets in oven and roast for 15 minutes. Check both the sweet potatoes and tomatillos – you want the sweet potatoes to be slightly soft in the middle, but still firm and you want the tomatillos to be soft and “exploded.” (My sweet potatoes were done after 15 minutes, but the tomatillos needed an extra 5 minutes or so.) Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
  3. Prepare the quinoa, step 2: Fluff quinoa with a fork in a large bowl. Reserve a little bit of the lime juice for the avocado, then add the rest to the bowl along with the jalapeños, parsley and 2 teaspoons olive oil. Toss to combine, then season with salt and pepper.
  4. Make the dressing: Place tomatillos, rice vinegar and agave in blender or food processor and pulse a few times to combine. With machine running, add 2 tablespoons olive oil in a steady stream until dressing has emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Make the tortilla strips: Melt coconut oil over medium heat in a medium skillet. When hot, add tortilla strips and cook until crisp, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with Cajun seasoning.
  6. Prepare the avocado: Cut avocado into chunks about the same size as the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle with reserved lime juice so they don’t turn brown.
  7. Put the timbale together: Place a 3-inch ring mold in the center of a serving plate. Press ⅙ of the quinoa mixture into the bottom of the mold, smoothing the top as best you can. Press ⅙ of the sweet potato pieces, then ⅙ of the avocado chunks into the quinoa. Carefully remove the mold and repeat the process for five other plates.
  8. Garnish and serve: Sprinkle tortilla strips and pea shoots on top of each timbale. Serve with tomatillo dressing.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 311 Fat: 15g Saturated fat: 2g Carbohydrates: 40g Sugar: 6g Sodium: 408mg Fiber: 5g Protein: 7g Cholesterol: 0mg

Microplane Adjustable Slicer and Anolon Advanced 3.5 qt straining saucepan


I’m giving away a Microplane Adjustable Slicer with Julienne Blade and an Anolon Advanced 3.5 quart Covered Straining Saucepan. To enter, leave a comment and tell me (1) how diabetes has touched your life OR (2) what you would make with the slicer or saucepan. The contest will run through Friday, November 22, 2013. The winner will be chosen at random on Saturday, November 23, 2013. You must be at least 18 years of age with a U.S. mailing address to win. No purchase is necessary; void where prohibited. The winner will be notified by email and must respond within 24 hours or another winner may be selected. (Please make sure email from info@diabeticfoodie.com doesn’t end up in your spam folder.)

Now it’s time to check out what the rest of the Virtual Potluck team is cooking up for World Diabetes Day. Don’t forget they are EACH hosting a giveaway, so follow the links to see what you can win.

Disclosure: I received products from Anolon and Microplane for recipe development. Anolon and Microplane are sponsoring the giveaway. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click one of them and make a purchase, I will receive a tiny fee. Please see my disclosures page for more information.


  1. Shelley C says

    Being diagnosed last Dec was like a death knell at first; so much information coming at me from my dr/health team, family and friends. And the internet! I just had to shut down for a while and take it in in chunks. Changing eating habits was the kick I needed to jump start weight loss of this excess weight I’ve been carrying for the last 30 yrs. I’ve lost 60 pounds thus far and I’m managing my numbers with lifestyle..thanks to my doctor agreeing to let me try! I feel better and have more energy. I don’t think about being dead by the time I hit 60 like I use to…

  2. diabeticFoodie says

    Good for you, Shelley! You were smart to take things in chunks – it can be overwhelming at first. I’m so glad you are doing so well with your lifestyle changes.

  3. elangomatt says

    The recipe looks pretty good, I’m only just now starting to use quinoa but I really like it so far.

    I love the microplane grater that I have already and this looks like a really nice simple slicer. I’d like to use it to make salad toppings easier since I’m a lot more likely to eat a salad with extra stuff on it. This should make that process quicker and easier!

  4. Kristen M says

    My experience with diabetes comes from working for a health and wellness company that provides weight management and nutrition tracking tools. It’s made me aware of the challenges faced by those with diabetes.

  5. MaryB says

    My mother in law was recently diagnosed with diabetes and I am helping her to change her eating habits to a more healthful way of eating. This recipe looks like something she would really like so we will try it out – she eats with us at least twice a week.

  6. Jeffrey says

    My brother found out he was a Type II Diabetic in his mid thirties and it has brought to light the need to watch not only what I eat but what I feed my children. Exercise also plays a key role, especially for him. He will always need to take Insulin and is lucky to be alive as it went unnoticed for quite some time. The symptoms he was having did not lead him to believe this was going on so he waited to see a doctor. I personally love quinoa and am always looking for new ways to use it.

  7. Sheila Vives says

    My elderly mom was diagnoses with diabetes. With diabetes you have to really rethink how you prepare food and what you serve. I cook adding much more fiber to the menu now.

  8. says

    This is a beautiful recipe! My father has diabetes and I am always looking for new and delicious recipes for him. This one is fantastic!

  9. Natalie J Vandenberghe says

    I think I would try your recipe! I love sweet potatoes and I’m eager to try making quinoa again (the first time I tried making it, my kids & I didn’t think it tasted very good; my husband, on the other hand, thought “the rice was fine” LOL) Thanks for the giveaway.

  10. Khanh says

    Both my mother and grandmother have diabetes, so I know I’m definitely at risk. It’s actually a pretty big problem in the Vietnamese community. I try to make an effort to be aware of the ingredients that I feed my family and myself at home and when we’re out.

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