Sunday, April 25, 2010

Vegetarian Stuffed Poblanos with Avocado Crema

There may not be anything more satisfying than serving tofu to a mixed crowd and having everyone love it.


Ok, ok, it certainly wasn't the star of the meal - in fact, it was cut into tiny little pieces and scattered amongst beans, rice, and Mexican delights of all varieties. But it was definitely in there! And let me tell you what - these stuffed peppers were freaking good. Ross and my friends Jess (of former roommate fame) and Mike (her boyfriend) agreed. It was a spontaneous Sunday night dinner that I look forward to revisiting tonight in the form of leftovers.

I had been really scared to try roasting peppers on the gas stovetop, for obvious reasons (fear of causing the Great Chicago Fire 2.0 chief among them), but it's actually a mellow process. I made sure there weren't any kitchen towels in sparking range, and just stood and watched the skin char. And the way it enhances the flavor of the poblanos - that's worth a little fear, my friends. In fact, you should only be afraid of not making this recipe - ASAP!

INGREDIENTS

4 large poblano peppers
2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
1 can diced tomatoes and green chiles and all juices
1 can tomato paste diluted with equal part water
cumin (start with a few shakes, taste, and add as needed)
Mexican chili powder (start with a few shakes, taste, and add as needed)
dried oregano (start with a few shakes, taste, and add as needed)
salt and pepper
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2/3 block extra-frim tofu, cut into 1/4" cubes and squeezed dry
juice of 1/2 a lime
~1/2 cup chopped cilantro
~3 cups cooked brown rice
~1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
grape tomatoes, in chunks, for garnish

Avocado Crema:
1 very ripe avocado
~1/2 cup light sour cream
juice of 1 lime
1/3 c. chopped cilantro
salt and pepper


STEP 1:

If you have a gas stovetop, turn a burner on medium heat, and place a poblano pepper directly on the flame. Roast on each side until the skin is charred black and bubbly. (You can also just roast them in the oven on high heat or under the broiler, or in a grill pan.) When each poblano is blackened, place in a bowl or a tupperware container with a tight-fitting lid and let rest for about 15 minutes. Peel the skins off and discard.


STEP 2:

With a sharp knife, cut a slice lengthwise down the poblanos and cut circularly around the stem of the pepper. Pull out the stem and seeds and discard. Meanwhile, cook the rice in a rice cooker or on the stove.

STEP 3:

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Cook the onions, green pepper, and serrano pepper until beginning to soften. Add some cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and oregano. Stir and cook for a few more minutes. Add the can of diced tomatoes and the watered-down tomato paste. Add more seasonings, cooking and stirring occasionally.

STEP 4:

Add the lime juice, beans and tofu, and add the rice after it's cooked. Stir to combine, taste, and adjust seasonings. Fold in the cilantro.


STEP 5:

Preheat the oven to 375. Place the poblano peppers in a lightly oiled baking dish. Stuff each one with the rice/beans/tofu mixture. Cover each poblano with cheese. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until cheese is melty.


STEP 6:

Meanwhile, in a small pot, heat all the ingredients for the avocado crema over medium-low heat. Use an immersion blender to blend it until smooth. When the peppers are done, top each one with the crema before serving. Garnish with fresh tomato chunks. Serve and enjoy!


I think Ross put it best when he said, "I couldn't even taste the healthy." Really says it all.

Eat well, enjoy life, and more soon!
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