You may know Carolyn Cope as Umami Girl. She stops by on Tuesdays with ideas on preparing the abundance of fruits and vegetables you might get from your CSA or the market. —The Mgmt.
As Mother Nature puts her overcoat in storage and starts to slip into something a little more comfortable, it's hard not to want to spend every free minute outside. In fact, just about the only activity tempting enough to keep many of us indoors in glorious weather is cooking. (Yes, I said cooking. And no, I didn't mean that euphemistically.)
Thankfully, with a little creativity and a willingness to use those proverbial cojones (Yes, just the proverbial ones, thank you!), there's very little that you can't cook outdoors on the grill.
Often all it takes to make a classic dish grillable is the willingness to make a few modifications, which often come with the added benefit of improving a dish's nutritional profile. This isn't the place to quibble over authenticity. It's a great place to take a bit of inspiration and run with it. Although it's easy to think in a meatwardly direction at the mention of the word "grill," the same approach applies to vegetables.
I adore classic chiles rellenos, the battered, fried, cheese-stuffed poblano peppers served with a Mexican tomato sauce. Every so often, nothing but the real thing can satisfy a craving. But among the things I do not adore are standing indoors over a pot of hot oil splattering with accidentally oozing cheese on a warm spring evening, and feeling like a self-conscious bottomless chiles rellenos pit in a bathing suit at the beach come summer. So sometimes I make these grilled Chiles "Resemblos" instead. They are a fresher, somewhat lighter alternative to the original that is still full of cheesy goodness and many of the classic flavors.
Although you wouldn't confuse them with the traditional version in a taste test, these grilled, stuffed poblanos make a satisfying vegetarian meal in their own right. They are delicious served with sour cream, salsa and chopped cilantro or, alternatively, with a warm tomato sauce spiced with cilantro, cumin and a bit of cinnamon. For an omnivore's version that doesn't require any additional cooking, try adding an ounce or two of finely diced Spanish chorizo to the stuffing.
What about you? What are your favorite dishes to riff on the grill?
Grilled Chiles 'Resemblos;
About the author: Carolyn Cope writes Umami Girl and manages a CSA in New Jersey.
- 3 large poblano peppers
- 1 can pinto beans
- 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, if using beans without added salt
- 5 ounces cheese (1 1/2 cups shredded), any combination of Monterrey Jack, Pepper Jack, Cheddar, low-moisture Mozzarella, up to 1/2 cup Cotija
Prepare a grill for indirect heat. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds.
In a medium bowl, combine the beans, onion, garlic, cumin, salt, if using, and 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Stir to combine.
Stuff each pepper half with a handful of the filling. Sprinkle some of the remaining 1/2 cup cheese over each stuffed pepper half.
Carefully place the pepper halves on the section of the grill with indirect heat. Cover and grill for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the peppers are nicely softened. Then transfer the peppers to the direct heat section of the grill for 3 to 5 minutes until the peppers are charred and softened to your satisfaction. Serve with cilantro, sour cream and salsa or Mexican-style tomato sauce, if desired.