Queso panela may be semi-soft, but it keeps it shape when grilled. Its mild flavor gets a boost in this recipe from a fruity and tart tomatillo and poblano salsa along with an onion and cilantro topping.
Why this recipe works:
- Queso panela keeps its shape when heated, allowing it to be grilled over direct heat.
- Tomatillos and poblanos are charred before being pureed into a salsa to give the sauce a roasted flavor.
- An onion and cilantro topping adds extra freshness and more texture to the final dish.
- For the Salsa:
- 2 small or 1 large poblano pepper (about 1/3 pound)
- 3 large tomatillos, husked, washed, and halved (about 1/2 pound)
- 1/3 cup packed roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 1 tablespoon fresh juice from 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon freshly minced garlic from about 1 medium clove
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste
- 1 small yellow or white onion, finely diced
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 12 ounces queso panela, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- Corn tortillas, for serving
- Type of fire: Direct
- Grill heat: medium-high
For the salsa: Preheat broiler. Roast poblanos over an open flame on a gas stove or grill until skins are completely charred. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand until cooled, 5-10 minutes. Peel off charred skins; remove stems and seed poblanos.
Meanwhile, place tomatillos, cut sides down, on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to broiler and cook until tomatillo skins have charred and flesh has softened completely. Transfer tomatillos to the jar of a blender along with poblanos, cilantro, lime juice, and garlic. Puree until very smooth. Transfer salsa to a small bowl and stir in sugar. Season with salt and cayenne pepper and thin with water, if necessary. Set aside.
Mix onion and chopped cilantro together in a small bowl; set aside.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill cheese slices until browned on both sides, 1-2 minutes per side. Remove from grill.
Place tortillas on grill and cook until warm and pliable, about 30 seconds per side.
Spread a layer of salsa on the bottom of a shallow dish or plate. Nestle cheese in salsa. Spoon onion and cilantro mixture on top and serve immediately with warm tortillas.