You know they say you are a product of your upbringing. Raise your hand if you really, really hope that's not true. Am I the only one with my hand raised? No, really. I had a great childhood and was even lucky enough to have two moms who were pros in the kitchen. My mom raised me on traditional southern fare. It seemed like fried chicken, fried okra, country fried steak, and mashed potatoes with gravy were on our weekly dinner rotation. Dang, my mouth waters just typing those words. When my Bri-ish step-mom came along, she served a little finer cuisine. We feasted on roasted chicken with fresh, local vegetables. She roasted big, beautiful pieces of meat with a delicious sauce made with the pan drippings served alongside. In her kitchen, cooking technique was critical. She taught me the "propa" way to prep food as well as the appropriate serving sizes. It took a while for me and my brother's to get used to this new way of eating, basically not pigging out at dinner, but were happy to have experienced both styles of eating.
So I made these stuffed red pepper rellenos. What makes them rellenos as opposed to traditional stuffed peppers is the process of roasting the peppers first before stuffing them. Who knew! The final result is a sweeter pepper with a deeper flavor that is MUCH easier to eat. The cheesy chicken filling makes them comforting and almost a little indulgent. The avocado crema makes them feel a little more refined. To me, they are the best of both worlds. I guess I didn't stray too far from that upbringing after all.
Stuffed Red Bell Pepper Rellenos with Avocado Crema
Recipe adapted from Giada at Home
4 red bell peppers
1 cup corn kernels
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup diced cherry tomatoes
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 (8 oz) chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, divided
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 1/2 ripe avocados
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
3 Tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
To roast the peppers, preheat a broiler. Arrange the peppers on a heavy baking sheet lined with parchment.
Broil, turning the peppers every 5 minutes until nicely charred on all sides.
Place the peppers in a large glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. This allows the peppers to steam so that you can easily remove the skin. Leave the peppers in the bowl for at least 15 minutes.
Gently scrape off the burnt skin of the peppers. Lay each pepper in a well oiled 13x9 inch baking dish. Using a paring knife, carefully slice each pepper from top to bottom on one side only. Using a small spoon, carefully remove the seeds and inner membrane from each pepper.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the corn, spinach, tomatoes, green onion, basil, chicken, and 1 cup of the cheese. Toss to blend. Mix in lime juice, yogurt, salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.
Divide the mixture among the peppers (about 2/3 cup each), gently packing each pepper and mounding at the opening.
Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese on top of the peppers and bake for 25-30 minutes, just until heated through and the cheese starts to brown.
While the peppers are cooking, make the avocado crema:
Spoon avocado flesh into a blender or food processor. Add the lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
To serve, spoon a dollop of crema alongside each pepper and enjoy!
Can substitute any veggie that you have on hand. Diced squash, zucchini, or even black beans would be great! Let me know what else you come up with.
You will have a little more than a cup of filling left over. Do yourself a favor and scramble it in with some eggs for breakfast. OR slather it in a flour tortilla and grill it up to make a quesadilla. Mmm, mmm!