Get ready for a flavor explosion. This unstuffed poblano pepper has so many layers, textures and tastes, you’ll think you took a trip south of the border.
I never had authentic Mexican food until I moved from Pennsylvania to California at the age of 22. I don’t know how I lived without it for so many years without it! This dish only uses one tortilla for four servings – if you’ve ever gone to a Mexican restaurant, you know how easy it is to eat dozens of deep-fried tortilla chips before you even order, so we’re getting healthy without eliminating ingredients.
The peppers are roasted without oil. The only significant fat is the macadamia cheese and the recipe will yield more than needed for this dish. When I make cheese, I have to make the smallest amount that will allow for mixing in a small food processor – any less and the processor could not combine the ingredients thoroughly. Use just a small amount of cheese on each serving to offset the heat of the pepper. Or use more if you’re planning to eat low-fat the rest of the day. I don’t believe in giving up fat altogether. I use a lot less of it than I used to and if I have fat at one meal, I go for something low fat for other two meals. Also, even though the cheese has fat, it is fat from macadamia nuts so there is zero cholesterol. Cholesterol ONLY comes from animal products, so every dish on this site is cholesterol-free.
When you eat a traditional stuffed pepper, you can only see the top, but with this presentation, you can see every yummy layer. I used a 2” tall ring mold to get this effect just for the photo but if don’t have one or don’t want to fuss, you can simply place the layers on a plate in any abstract way. You can also use an empty can to give it form. It’s completely up to you. Have fun with this.
The Poblano pepper gives it a kick of heat which is quickly cooled by the cheese, similar to the cotija cheese used in Mexican cooking – it’s not the type of cheese that melts – it has a substantial texture which is a wonderful contrast to the other ingredients.
The beans and corn are flavored with cilantro, red onion, tomato, lime and cumin and if that’s not enough flavor in one dish, you’re going to add thinly sliced matchstick corn tortillas for a beautiful crunch and taste. I actually created this as a breakfast dish because Mexican breakfasts are so hearty, they’ll stay with you all day. But this is good any time of day or any time of year. Enjoy!
Total Time: 45 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
- 4 poblano peppers
- ½ cup black beans (if canned, rinse them thoroughly)
- ½ cup corn kernals (this is ideal if you have a leftover ear of corn on the cob)
- 1 small tomato, seeded and diced
- Juice of ½ lime
- 2 T. cilantro, chopped
- 2 T. diced red onion
- Generous pinch of cumin
- 1 corn tortilla, sliced in 2 inch “matchsticks”
- Salt and pepper
- Small amount of oil, olive or vegetable
- ¾ c. macadamia nuts, soaked for 2 hours or overnight, then drained
- ¼ c. water
- 2 T. lemon juice
- ¼ t. salt
- Generous pinch garlic granules (you can also mince a clove of fresh garlic)
- 1/8 c. nutritional yeast (you can omit this ingredient if you don’t have it but it will be more creamy than “cheesy”
Roast the peppers by putting them under a broiler until skins are charred and blackened. (If you have a gas oven, you can heat them directly on the flame using metal tongs. ) Transfer them directly from the oven into a paper bag. Fold the bag closed to allow the peppers to steam. When cool, remove the stems, skins and seeds from the peppers. Dice peppers and add a bit of salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm. (DO NOT TOUCH YOUR EYES AFTER HANDLING THE PEPPERS OR SEEDS.) Wash hands thoroughly after preparing the peppers.
Bean & Corn Mixture
Mix beans and corn with lime juice, cumin, cilantro, chopped tomato, salt and pepper. Heat in microwave or in pan. Set aside and keep warm. .
Crunchy Tortilla Topping
Heat the matchstick-cut tortilla in a small non-stick pan using a scant bit of oil. Stir, getting oil on the tortilla, then add salt, pepper and paprika. Continue to cook until the matchsticks are firm with a little crunch. They will not get as crunchy as deep-frying, but they will be the perfect amount of crunch to add contrast to this dish. Set aside.
To make the cheese, mix all ingredients in small food processor until completely blended. The cheese will resemble ricotta and will have a little granularity from the nuts. If you want a smoother cheese, you can add more water. Set aside.
Use a 2” tall ring to stack the ingredients, or simply place each layer on each four serving plates. This can be very rustic. The important thing is to display in a way that all the ingredients can be seen. The colors and texture balance is beautiful.
First place the peppers on the bottom of the ring or plate. Add the bean and corn mixture for the second layer – Save a few tablespoons for the top. Add the cheese for the next layer. Add a little more bean mixture. Top with the crunchy tortilla strips.
Garnish with additional chopped red onion or cilantro if desired.