OPINION | FRONT BURNER: Stuffed poblano peppers spice up summer supper

Poblano Stuffed With Cheesy Rice and Beans (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)
Poblano Stuffed With Cheesy Rice and Beans (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

This is one of my favorite vegetarian dinners: a large pepper — in this case a mildly spicy poblano — stuffed with rice, beans, salsa and cheese.

You could absolutely make these with sweet bell peppers, but in the summer months when the poblanos are large and plentiful, they're my go-to, plus I like the added kick of heat.

The filling is a simple mixture of rice (quinoa would be an excellent substitution), canned beans, cheese and salsa. Jarred salsa is fine, but for the freshest, most vibrant flavor, homemade is best. I like to pile everything on a sheet pan and broil until charred before whirling in the food processor. In this version I used tomatillos, but you could use tomatoes if you prefer.

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Poblanos Stuffed With Cheesy Rice and Beans

  • ½ cup long-grain rice
  • Salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can beans (white, black, pinto, red — your choice), rinsed and well drained
  • 8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided use
  • ½ cup Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (recipe follows; can substitute jarred), plus more for serving
  • Cumin, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 or 5 large poblano peppers

Desired garnishes such as lime wedges, cilantro, sliced avocado, sour cream

Cook the rice with a generous pinch of salt according to package directions.

If using homemade salsa, prepare it while the rice cooks.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked rice, beans, most of the cheese and about 1/4 cup of the salsa. Taste and season with cumin, salt, pepper or more salsa, if needed.

Cut the top off each pepper and gently remove the core, seeds and membranes. Reserve tops.

Fill each pepper cavity with rice mixture, making sure there are no air pockets. Replace the pepper tops and secure with wooden picks.

Arrange peppers on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 25 minutes or until peppers are quite tender. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and return peppers to the oven until cheese melts, about 5 minutes.

Serve topped with additional salsa, cilantro, sliced avocado or other desired garnishes.

Makes about 4 servings.

■ ■ ■

You can use any kind of onion you like here, but be warned: using a purple onion will give this salsa a slightly mauve tint.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

  • 12 ounces fresh tomatillos (about 10)
  • 1 small onion (purple, yellow or white)
  • 1 Serrano or jalapeno pepper, halved, stemmed and seeded (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ teaspoon cumin, plus more to taste
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ½ to 1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 1 lime

Heat broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

Remove the papery husks from the tomatillos and rinse away any sticky residue. Cut each tomatillo in half or quarter, depending on size. Cut the onion into eighths. Pile the tomatillos, onion wedges, hot pepper halves and garlic in the center of the prepared pan. Season with cumin, salt and pepper. Drizzle with vegetable oil. Stir or gently toss to coat. Broil 5 to 8 minutes or until tomatillos are tender and onion is charred.

Carefully transfer everything, juices included, to a food processor and pulse to combine; add the cilantro and the juice of half the lime and continue pulsing until salsa reaches desired consistency. Taste and add more cumin, salt, pepper or lime juice as needed.

Can be served warm, at room temperature or chilled. Salsa will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for about 5 days.

Makes about 1 ½ cups.

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