I’ve slightly adapted this recipe from Savoring Mexico, a wonderful book in the Williams-Sonoma “Savoring” series. Readers of this blog might recognize that my recipes for tomatillo salsa, smoky ancho salsa and spicy chipotle salsa all derive from this marvelous guide.
I don’t make the stuffed poblanos or chiles rellenos often only because it’s a lot of work to peel and clean the peppers. Fortunately, Hegui was my sous chef this time, greatly simplifying my bother. I have seen the poblanos pre-cleaned and canned if you want to skip the step using the fresh ones. I haven’t yet tried it that way and sort of wonder if it would taste the same. Certainly the stem would be missing which would make the final dish look slightly less exciting.
I made this last minute so I didn’t have the time to get the proper Mexican cheeses: queso fresco and crema. Instead I got Monterey Jack and sour cream which worked pretty well. The original uses fresh spinach, pine nuts and less onion and garlic than I like. I’ve changed these here.
If you’ve ever had chiles rellenos before, it was probably the deep fried type. These are baked, not fried, so they’re a bit more healthy.
I had more stuffing than pepper and my peppers sort of fell apart a little. All that means is that they didn’t photograph as cutely as I’d wished. The taste was superb!
Chiles Rellenos Stuffed with Spinach and Cheese
6 fresh poblano peppers
Monterey Jack cheese, in pieces for stuffing
1 box frozen spinach, thawed and drained
¼ cup and 1 to 2 tsps. olive oil
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup raw pepitas
1 lb. roma tomatoes
6 cloves garlic with peels on
Sour cream or crema to garnish
Kosher salt to taste
Clean and roast fresh poblanos over an open fire or with your oven broiler. Once the skin becomes bubbly and blackens, remove from heat to a paper bag. Allow to steam until cool enough to touch. Remove skin. With a paring knife, carefully slit each pepper open lengthwise being sure not to detach the stem. Remove ribs and seeds.
Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
In a large skillet, add ¼ cup olive oil and heat till smoking. Add spinach, raisins, raw pepitas and salt to taste. Cook, stirring often, until dry.
Fill each prepared pepper with a piece of Monterey Jack cheese and some of the spinach stuffing. Place tightly together on a baking dish. When all peppers are filled, cover with foil and bake for about 20 to 30 minutes until cheese melts.
Meanwhile, prepare tomato sauce by roasting whole tomatoes, unpeeled garlic and onion in a cast iron pan (I use a coated one) for a few minutes. Remove garlic peels and woody tomato parts. Place garlic, onion and tomatoes in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add salt as desired.
Heat remaining olive oil in a pan and “fry” tomato sauce on medium for a few minutes. Be careful for splashing.
To serve, place a ladle-full of tomato sauce on a large dish. Float a stuffed pepper over sauce and drizzle sour cream or crema over the dish as garnish.
I served this with warm corn tortillas and margaritas. Hegui made spring greens with cherry tomatoes and roasted red bell pepper dressing, which went perfectly. Cheers!