LUCY BURDETTE: we had a bumper crop of poblano peppers in our garden this year. Hmmm....One of my favorite Mexican dishes is chili rellenos, peppers stuffed with cheese and deep-fried. But I am shackled by a fear of deep fat frying...
Face my fear? Not yet! I decided to try stuffing the peppers with a cheesy filling and baking instead. This version is vegetarian, using a can of chili beans, which I often find in Southern grocery stores, usually the Bush brand. They are beans in a chili flavored sauce. You could also substitute any beans of your choice and increase the amount of spices that you use. We learned quickly that these peppers are *hot*, so be careful about what other hot stuff you add!
Six poblano peppers (for a milder version, use green peppers)
One and a half cups cooked brown rice
One can chili beans
One heaping cup cheese (I used sharp cheddar but you could also use Monterey Jack or a combination)
One red onion, chopped
One heaping teaspoon cumin
One heaping teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon fresh or frozen chopped cilantro
Cut the peppers lengthwise, removing stems and seeds. Be careful not to touch your eyes or lips before washing your hands as these peppers have a bite. Once the rice is cooked, mix it with the cheese and chili beans. Sauté the onion in a tablespoon of olive oil along with the two spices. When the onion is soft, add this to the rice mixture. Add the cilantro and mix well.
In a 9 x 13" pan, well oiled, lay out the pepper halves. Stuff each one with the rice cheese bean mixture.
Bake in a 350 oven until the filling is starting to bubble and brown and the peppers are cooked through.
If you prefer Italian to Mexican flavors, try these peppers stuffed with sausage and rice and marinated in spicy tomato sauce.
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