Something about summer makes me crave Mexican food. Last week, we decided to experiment with making chile relleno — but not without giving it a healthy makeover first.
Chile relleno is typically made with poblano peppers, fried in a cornmeal-egg batter and stuffed with cheese and sometimes ground beef. Other versions include carrots and tomatoes, or even nuts and raisins.
The first thing we changed for our version was the fried batter. I love the subtle sweet-and-smoky flavor that peppers get when you roast them, so we nixed the batter altogether and coated the peppers in olive oil and salt, and stuck them under the broiler. You can also char them using your stovetop burner or grill, if you have one.
For health reasons, we typically avoid buying meat, so we replaced the ground beef in this recipe with a mix of Mexican rice and our ground vegan walnut “meat.”
The big question mark was the melted cheese, which gives the dish that consistency that makes it stick to your ribs.
While visiting my family a few months ago, my stepdad made a dairy-free cheese from cashew nuts that was seriously addictive — we finished the entire bowl in minutes! We used a similar recipe to replace the melted cheese here.
I was a little skeptical about how this recipe would turn out, given the number of substitutions. But the final product hit all the right notes — without all the grease and fat.
Here’s how to make it at home.
- 2 green peppers — bell or poblano, depending on your tolerance for spiciness and your taste
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
Raw cashew “cheese”
- 1/4 cup of cashews
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp water
Raw walnut taco “meat”
- 1 cup of walnuts
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- chili powder
- 1 cup of dry brown or white rice
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 vine-ripened tomato
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup of vegetable broth
- Cook garlic and diced onions in a saucepan with olive oil and salt.
- When the garlic and onions start to brown, add tomato and rice. Cook until the flavors are blended, then add the water and vegetable stock.
- Slice the green peppers in half, lengthwise, and brush with olive oil inside and out. Roast under a broiler or over an open flame until the skin starts to blister.
- Place peppers in a foil-lined casserole dish. Stuff the peppers with your prepared rice, and bake in oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
- While peppers are baking, combine the walnuts, soy sauce, cumin, coriander, chili powder, and oregano in a food processor and blend to a crumbly, ground beef-like texture. Set aside in a bowl.
- Combine cashews, garlic, sea salt, lemon juice, and water in food processor and blend into a paste.
- When edges of peppers and rice become slightly crisp, remove from oven.
- Spoon in the walnut meat and cashew cheese as desired.
Buen provecho! 🙂