Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Spice of Life! An Un-Fried Chile Relleno to Brighten Up January...

Normally when you think Chile Relleno you think of the deep fried, cheese filled, omnipresent vegetarian option in most Mexican restaurants. This is not that Chile! This is a healthy, tangy, delicious version that can play the staring role at any dinner party.....

Serves 4

5 Poblano Peppers (substitute Green bells if you don't want the heat...)
1 Lg Onion, chopped fine
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tbs Olive Oil
8 Oz Dry Pinto Beans: soaked overnight, then boiled in 3 cups of water until tender with a tsp of salt and one bay leaf (can substitute 2 cans of Pinto Beans, rinsed)

2 Ripe Avocados
2 Cups Fat Free Yogurt
4 Oz Feta Cheese
1 Lime, juice only
2 Tbs chopped Cilantro

1. First thing is first; Roast the Poblano's on an open burner flame, the grill or under the broiler. turn frequently until Charred black on all sides. Place Charred Peppers into a bowl with a tight fitting lid (or plastic wrap) and let them sit in their steam for 10 minutes. After ten minutes it should be easy to strip away the charred skin, careful not to tear the side of the pepper. Cut around the stem end of the chile and carefully remove the stem and seeds, but reserve the cleaned stem for decoration. You will inevitable tear one or two of the chiles. Not to worry, you have roasted a spare which you can cut up and use to patch up any holes in the 4 serving peppers.

2. Now the filling: No cheese here, instead we'll use protein and fiber rich refried beans. Take your beans and mash them roughly. In a non-stick skillet, sautee the onions and garlic in the olive oil until translucent and fragrant. Add the mashed beans and fry in the oil until all is combined into a sticky texture, thick enough to be formed. If needed, add some water to loosen the mixture or fry longer to thicken. Salt and pepper to taste. Let cool enough to handle.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 and prepare an oiled 1/2 sheet pan or casserole dish. Stuff each of the 4 peppers to brimming with the bean mixture. Patch up any wholes with the spare pepper, and top each pepper with its stem cap. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes to let the flavors meld and the pepper and mixture to adhere to each other.

4. And the show stopper: Avocado cream. To make the sauce, combine the avocados, yogurt, 3/4 of the feta and 3/4 of the cilantro and the juice of one lime in a food processor or blender. Blend until creamy and green.

To present, spoon a generous circle of the avocado cream onto the center of each plate. Top with the Chile, hot from the oven and then drizzle more of the cream on top. Finally, sprinkle with the reserved cilantro and feta cheese. This dish seems rich, but the olive oil, touch of feta and avocados supply the only fat, and the non-fat yogurt and pinto beans give tons of lean protein. Plus, you get your veggies, protein and carbs all in one dish! The spicy pepper, the creamy richness of the garlicky beans and the tangy creaminess of the sauce make this an unforgettable dinner!