What’s for Dinner?
Corn and Mushroom Stuffed Chiles Rellenos with Creamy Walnut Sauce
-Recipe Courtesy of Chef Cristina Gonzalez of Lazy Acres’ Market in Santa Barbara, CA for www.walnuts.org
Corn and Mushroom Stuffed Chiles
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion (about 5 ounces)
6 ounces sliced mushrooms (about 2 cups)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme OR 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups yellow or white corn kernels, fresh or frozen (no need to thaw)
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
16 fresh pasilla chiles (about 3-inches long), roasted and peeled * OR 3, 7-ounce cans roasted whole green chiles
4 ounces coarsely grated extra firm tofu (about 1 cup)
2 ounces grated Monterey Jack cheese (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) chopped California walnuts
1 recipe Creamy Walnut Sauce (see below)
Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
Roughly chopped California walnuts, for garnish
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the corn, bell pepper, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper; cook, stirring frequently, until the peppers are tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Generously butter a large glass or enameled baking pan, or coat with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
Using a sharp paring knife, remove the core of the pepper from the stem end and using your fingers, gently pull out the seeds and ribs, taking care to keep the chile whole. (A slight split in the flesh is ok, but the presentation is prettiest if the chiles are stuffed whole.) Set on paper towels to drain.
When the mushroom and corn mixture is cool, add the tofu, Jack cheese, and walnuts; mix well. Gently spoon about 1/4 cup of the filling into each chile; using your fingers, carefully stuff the filling down into the chile. Using your hands, gently mold the top edge of the chile to enclose the filling. Transfer the stuffed chiles to the prepared baking dish. Bake, until the filling is hot, 25 to 30 minutes.
Serve with a generous spoonful of the Creamy Walnut Sauce and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and a sprinkling of chopped California walnuts.
*To roast fresh chiles: Coat them lightly in olive oil and place chiles on an open flame, such as a gas stove burner, charcoal or gas grill (if no open flame is available, putting the chiles on a pan in a broiler will also work). Directly on the flame, rotate each chile until the skin blackens and blisters from the heat. After the chile is completely blackened, place in a bowl and cover, or in a paper bag and close it, to allow the chile to steam. After 15 to 20 minutes the skin should easily peel off.
Creamy Walnut Sauce
This is wonderful spooned over the Corn and Mushroom Stuffed Chiles Rellenos.
1 cup chopped California walnuts, toasted
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Generous 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
3 ounces crumbled cotija cheese (about 3/4 cup) OR freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
In a food processor, process the chopped walnuts, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl two or three times, until they become a smooth, thick paste. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add the walnut butter and vinegar; whisk until smooth. Slowly whisk in the vegetable stock and continue whisking until no lumps remain. Stir in the cinnamon, cloves, sugar, milk, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the flavors have melded, 15 minutes. Stir in the cotija cheese and continue simmering, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes more. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro.
The sauce may be prepared ahead of time and gently reheated.
Makes a generous 2 1/2 cups
Photo Courtesy of the California Walnut Board