Food: Recipe – Cheesy Stuffed Poblanos
While stuffing peppers is a cross-cultural tradition, Mexico’s passion for stuffing the warmly flavoured poblano is close to perfection
By Louise Crosby
For eons, people have been stuffing vegetables – with rice and other grains, beans, meats, cheeses. Think of eggplant stuffed with spiced lamb and pine nuts, pale green zucchini stuffed with ground beef and rice and cooked in a yogurt or tomato sauce, mushrooms stuffed with bread crumbs and cheese, squash stuffed with quinoa and feta. It’s a traditional and creative way to liven up a vegetable, make it the star attraction, in fact, and to pack more nutrition into your meal.
Peppers are a natural for stuffing because they’re hollow, and in Mexico, chiles rellenos – poblano peppers filled with cheese, dipped in an egg batter, and fried – are a favourite food. America’s Test Kitchen The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook played with that idea by first microwaving the peppers for a couple of minutes to make them more pliable, then stuffing them with mashed pinto beans, corn, garlic, onion, spices and cheese, and roasting them in the oven. I don’t have a microwave so I steamed them for about a minute to soften before proceeding with the recipe.
In case you’re not familiar, poblanos are dark green peppers with a mild heat; they used to be hard to find in these parts but are more widely available these days. Americas Test Kitchen serves this stuffed version with a cherry tomato salsa: quartered cherry tomatoes tossed in olive oil, minced cilantro, lime juice, and salt and pepper.
Cheesy Stuffed Poblanos
2 (15-ounce cans) pinto beans, rinsed
1 cup water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon grated lime zest plus 1 tablespoon juice
Salt and pepper
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups frozen corn
4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1 cup)
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
¼ cup minced fresh cilantro
8 poblano chiles
Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 425 degrees F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with aluminium foil. Using potato masher, mash half of beans with water together in a bowl until mostly smooth.
Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, cumin, oregano, chili powder, lime zest, ½ teaspoon salt, and cayenne, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in mashed bean mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until nearly all liquid has evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in remaining beans and corn and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Off heat, stir in Monterey Jack, cheddar, cilantro and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Leaving stem intact, cut slit lengthwise down 1 side of each poblano. Microwave poblanos in covered bowl until just pliable, about 2½ minutes. (Or steam in a steamer over boiling water.) Gently pry open poblanos, remove seeds, and stuff evenly with bean-cheese mixture. Lay poblanos, stuffed side up, on prepared sheets. Bake until tender, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking, 30 to 40 minutes.
Serves: 4 to 6
THE EX-PRESS, March 9, 2016