Food & Drink

In the Kitchen With: Marcella Kriebel’s Avocados in the Half Shell

by Kristina Gill

Given summer’s gift of ripe avocados and juicy tomatoes, I thought these very simple recipes for avocados in the half shell with red quinoa salad and salsa roja would be perfect for this week. They are from illustrator Marcella Kriebel’s Mi Comida Latina cookbook. Mi Comida Latina is not only special because it is impeccably printed in large format on beautiful stock — it is also special because of the mission of its publisher. Burgess Lea Press is a new traditional trade publisher specializing in books of high quality from chefs, restaurants and farms, with 100% of after-tax publishers’ profits donated to non-profit organizations that address hunger, farmland preservation, culinary education and other food-related issues, chosen in collaboration with each book’s authors.  Marcella chose Adelante Mujeres in her native Oregon as a beneficiary for her book. Upcoming beneficiaries for other books include Edible Schoolyard Project (California), Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture (New York), The Vetri Foundation for Children (Philadelphia), and Urban Roots (Minnesota). —Kristina

Why Marcella loves this recipe: Avocados add a great richness to a dish like very few other fruits or veggies do. For example, when a salad doesn’t call for meat, I still desire something that lends more substance, and find that avocado is often the answer. I also must say that avocado green happens to be my favorite color! Color plays a big role when I paint, but it’s also really important when I cook, as well!


Avocados in the Half Shell with Red Quinoa Salad
Serves six


– 1 cup red quinoa
– 2 cups water
– 1 cup roasted tomato salsa
– ½ tsp salt
– 3 ripe avocados, halved and pitted
– ¼ cup chopped green onion


1. Bring quinoa and water to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until all the water is absorbed (15 minutes), then let it cool.

2. In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, 1 cup roasted tomato salsa (recipe below), green onions and salt, stir.

3. Using a tablespoon, generously fill the cavity of each avocado half; the dish can be enjoyed right out of the shell. The quinoa salad looks like the pit, but one that can be eaten!

4. Serve avocados on a platter, adding extra salad to the center of the dish.

Salsa Roja Recipe
Makes three cups


– 2 pounds ripe tomatoes
– 1-2 jalapeños, cut lengthwise
– 6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
– ½ tsp salt, or to taste
– ½ cup finely chopped white onion
– ¼ cup chopped cilantro


1. Line a skillet with a sheet of aluminum foil and heat over high heat.

2. Roast the tomatoes on the aluminum, turning every 1 minute, to blacken skin. When at least 50% of the tomato skin is roasted and blackened, remove from pan.

3. Remove foil then add jalapeños and garlic and roast over high heat until they are soft and blackened.

4. Peel the garlic and, using a large mortar and pestle, crush it with the jalapeños and salt to make a chunky paste. Add the tomatoes and the onion and crush to combine. If the mortar gets too full, transfer to a bowl. Add cilantro and more salt if needed.


Marcella Kriebel is best known for her vibrant watercolors, and illustrates everything from sunflowers to salmon in her own distinctive style. She used her degrees in studio art and anthropology background as a springboard for travel, journaling and cooking in numerous Latin American countries. An initially successful Kickstarter campaign allowed her to assemble her large archive of recipes and illustrations into her beautiful cookbook, Mi Comida Latina. The third edition of the book is now published by Burgess Lea Press. Marcella is an Oregon native, and currently a resident of Washington DC. Marcella’s originals, art prints and stationery are available on her website, and you can check out her latest projects on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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  • I bought this book twice! Once from Marcella at a D.C. farmers’ market and the other from the web. (One for my sister-in-law, one for me.) At the market, I got to try the creamy cilantro dip with plantain chips, and it was wonderful.

    The book itself is just lovely. It’s a joy to hold, peruse. Worth every penny! And quite inspiring.