The heat is on with temperatures reaching the high 80's here in Oregon. Since it's normally cold here, it takes a while for us Oregonians to acclimate to the warmer weather. Yes, we will act like we're melting, that's just how it is. I actually love that the mercury is rising because it will help knock down the allergies, which are unbearable at the moment.
When it's warm like this, I also crave lighter meals. I think we all do. It's the season of refreshing drinks, unique summer pizzas on the grill, light summer salads, chilled soups and entrees that don't leave us feeling stuffed to the gills.
These Southwest Chicken, Avocado and Quinoa Lettuce Wraps make the perfect, light summer meal. They are packed with layers of flavor. I developed this recipe so each component includes some of the Southwest Seasoning that makes this dish stand out. Every bite also includes California avocado, which makes this dish a powerhouse of flavor.
You'll want to make up your seasoning first so you can use it in different parts of the recipe. It is not overly spicy. If you want to kick up the heat, feel free to add more cayenne and red chili flakes.
Make sure to thoroughly cover the chicken breasts with the seasoning.
Look how gorgeous they are once cooked.
The quinoa also gets its dose of southwest seasoning. Always rinse your quinoa before cooking, otherwise you can get some bitter flavors. Some quinoa is already prewashed and it will say so on the package.
The chicken is cubed and one of the best parts of the recipe are the creamy, California avocados that sit on top. They offer a rich textural change with every bite.
The benefits of adding California avocados to meals are more than just taste. Did you know avocados have more potassium than bananas? Something we all need to help regulate a healthy blood pressure. However, one of my favorite benefits of eating California avocados has to do with nutrient absorption. Some nutrients are "fat soluble" and need to be combined with fat to be absorbed. The high fat content of the avocado dramatically increases the nutrient value of other plant foods you are consuming. What an incredible benefit.
While lettuce wraps have often been served as appetizers, these are actually meal-worthy. They are filling without being heavy and will leave everyone some room for dessert.
The Southwest inspired sauce is that bridge that brings the meal together. I little drizzle is all you need.
Southwest Chicken, Avocado and Quinoa Lettuce Wraps
Southwest Seasoning Mix:
- 1-1/2 Tablespoons chili powder
- 1-1/2 Tablespoons paprika
- 2-1/2 teaspoons table salt
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Southwest Drizzle Sauce:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 Tablespoon ketchup
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons creamy horseradish
- 1/2 teaspoon Southwest Seasoning Mix (from above)
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/8 teaspoon ground oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup dried quinoa, rinsed
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 teaspoon Southwest Seasoning Mix (from above)
- 1-2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts*
- 2 California avocados, halved, pitted and diced
- fresh lime juice
- 12 large green, leafy lettuce leaves, washed and dried
- For the seasoning mix, add all ingredients to a small bowl and mix until fully combined. Set aside.
- For the Southwest drizzle, combine all ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- For the wraps, bring two cups of water to a rolling boil. Add dried quinoa, cover and turn down heat to low. Simmer for 15-18 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed all the water and is soft. Stir in apple cider vinegar and 3/4 teaspoon of Southwest Seasoning until fully combined. Set aside and let cool.
- Rub remaining Southwest Seasoning into the chicken breasts until they are fully coated. Add oil to a large, nonstick skillet over low heat. Cook chicken breasts in the oil until done, about 12-15 minutes. Turn them often so they don't burn. Make sure to check them for doneness..easy to do by slicing one open. Let cool and cut into cubes.
- To assemble the wraps, place a layer of quinoa on the bottom of a lettuce leaf, top with chicken, avocado, a squirt of lime juice and drizzle with Southwest Sauce. Serve immediately.
- Cooking Notes: *I used hand-trimmed chicken breast fillets. These fillets have all the fat removed and lay flat. If you do not use fillets, make sure to slice your chicken breasts in half lengthwise. This will increase the surface ratio of your seasoning and allow you to cook the chicken breast in less time. It also slices easier. You could also flatten the breast with a meat pounder as well.
- This meal is also served nicely as a buffet. Let everyone fill their own wraps. Nice additions would also be black beans and grilled corn.
- The seasoning mix can be made way in advance and the drizzle up to a week ahead.
Make sure to look for "California" on your avocado label.
Other California Avocado Recipes you Might Enjoy:
Healthy Breakfast Burrito with Avocado & Chipotle Yogurt ~ Cookin' Canuck
California Avocado Walking Tacos ~ Dine and Dish
California Avocado Chicken Sliders ~ I Wash You Dry
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Disclosure: I have a working relationship with the California Avocado Commission and have been compensated with lots of beautiful avocados (the best part) and for my time to develop this recipe. However, as always I only work with brands I truly love. Please support them in any way you can so I may keep bringing you recipes like the one you see here. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.