These aren’t your average stuffed peppers…these stuffed peppers are special. They’re packed with so much flavor- a little sweet and a little savory, a little spicy and a little smoky. They’re creamy and cheesy with crispy brown bits on their edges. Serve these stuffed poblanos with a cool drizzle of lime crema and a spoonful of pico and you have a party on your plate.
I’ve made them 3 times in 2 weeks and I’m not even a LITTLE bit tired of them 🙂 🙂 🙂
The inspiration for this recipe came during a recent walk through my daughter’s garden, where all kinds of beautiful peppers and tomatoes and other magical reminders of summer’s commitment to deliver on spring’s promises were coming to fruition.
Hannah’s garden blows away any garden I had when we lived on the farm- it’s seriously impressive. And it makes my heart so happy to see all of the work she puts into it and how much joy she gets out of it.
Plus, she shares 🙂
What is a poblano?
When it comes to stuffed peppers, most of us are familiar with bell peppers, but you might be less familiar with poblanos. There’s a definite flavor difference between the two. Bell peppers are sweet (especially the red, yellow & orange variety) and are great raw or cooked. Poblanos have a more distinct earthy, chili-flavor and aren’t usually eaten raw. Poblanos are most often picked when they’re green, but if they’re left to ripen further on the vine they’ll turn red. Dry red poblanos and you have anchos.
Somewhat heart shaped, 4-5 inches long and about 2 inches across at their widest point, they’re a perfect shape for stuffing. And when it comes to heat? Poblanos are very mild, which makes them a great “family friendly” stuffed chili pepper.
How to prep poblanos
Wash and dry your peppers. Slice from top to bottom into two halves. I like the way the stems look so I try to keep them intact. If you have very large poblanos sometimes you can cut through the middle of the stem so that both halves have the stem attached. It makes no difference in flavor so no biggie if you cut them all off…it’s purely aesthetic.
Next, using a sharp knife, carefully cut out any white membrane and remove all of the seeds.
Drizzle with a little bit of oil and rub over all sides, inside and outside. You want a very light coating. Sprinkle with a couple pinches of coarse salt.
Now they’re ready to stuff!
Wait- Don’t You Need To Peel Poblanos?
I always thought you did. But guess what? You DON’T.
The first time I made stuffed poblanos I was following a recipe and it called for roasting and peeling the peppers. Having never worked with poblanos before that, I just assumed it was necessary. While I don’t mind roasting and peeling peppers, it’s does take time- especially when you’re trying to keep the shape of the peppers intact. Also, peeled peppers are slippery, which makes them harder to work with and easier to tear.
So, when I made these I decided to see what happened if I didn’t peel them. It turns out to be a totally unnecessary step! The skin wasn’t bitter or tough. As much as I enjoy taking extra time to do the little things that make a difference when I’m cooking, I DON’T like to do things that don’t have a purpose. Peeling the poblanos is one of those things. Plus, they’re so much easier to work with when they’re raw and firm and hold their shape.
If you’re using roasted poblanos for another purpose, like a sauce or chili rellenos, you DO need to peel them. But for stuffing and baking like this? No.
What’s in the filling?
- sweet potato
- yellow onion
- adobo sauce
- black beans
- asadero (or other melty, white cheese)
- cotija cheese
It was Hannah’s garden that started my wheels turning about making stuffed poblanos in the first place…but the idea for the filling came about for another reason. Lately I’ve been putting more thought into creating recipes that are nutrient dense. I wanted a filling that tasted absolutely delicious- but I also wanted to feel good about eating it.
People have LOTS of different definitions of what’s healthy. And most seem to focus on what you shouldn’t eat. My idea of healthy is less about what you CAN’T have and more about intentionally including lots of vitamin rich whole foods. Focus on incorporating more of the good and you can still have the other stuff, but there’s less room for it. At least that’s my philosophy.
The nutritional stars in this filling are the sweet potatoes and the black beans. They’re both packed with vitamins, fiber and complex carbs- which make you feel full longer. The chorizo and the adobo provide great flavor and a little kick. The pico, lime juice and cilantro add brightness. And the cheese…well…cheesiness (which I totally think deserves a category all it’s own).
I’m not saying this is health food- but I feel good about eating it 🙂 (and you will, too!)
How To Make The Filling
The filling is pretty straight forward.
- The first thing you’re going to do is roast the sweet potato. Turn your oven to 400°f. Place your sweet potato on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes to one hour, depending on the size of your sweet potato. It’s done when a sharp knife slides in and out with no resistance. Set aside to cool slightly (maybe slice open the top to let help it cool down faster).
- While that’s roasting, cook the onion and chorizo until the chorizo is cooked through. Remove from heat. Chorizo varies in fat content depending on where you get it, so if yours is very greasy I suggest draining it on a paper towel after cooking and then returning it to the skillet.
- While the sweet potato is roasting and the chorizo is finishing up, make the pico by combining all of the ingredients in a bowl. Set aside
- Smash your cooked sweet potato until it’s smooth and add to the skillet with cooked chorizo along with the adobo, black beans, lime juice, cilantro a few pinches of salt and some of the pico (you’ll save the rest of the pico for serving).
- Stir that all up until it’s well combined and then fold in the cheese (reserving some to sprinkle on top before baking).
- Taste. Does it need more salt? Maybe a little more lime juice or cilantro, or another teaspoon of adobo if you like it spicy? Adjust to your preferences.
Stuff And Bake
You’ve made the filling and prepped the peppers, now you just need to put it together and pop it in the oven. Pretty soon you’re kitchen is going to smell soooooo good, and in about an hour you’re going to be enjoying flavor packed, creamy, chili pepper deliciousness…
Drizzle a little olive oil over a casserole dish that’s just large enough to hold all of your peppers. Divide the filling between all of your pepper halves, they’ll be pretty full! Arrange them in your dish, I like to keep them close together while they cook because it keeps them from drying out.
Sprinkle the remaining cheese over top, cover tightly with foil and bake at 375°f for 45 minutes. Uncover and finish baking another 15. Your cheese should be nice and golden at the end, but if it isn’t you can pop it under the broiler for just a couple minutes to get it there (watch carefully…broilers can take things from golden to black pretty quick!)
Don’t Forget The Crema
While that’s baking you’ll make the crema- it’s SO EASY so please don’t skip it! Crema is Mexican sour cream. It’s a little thinner and has a slightly higher fat content, which gives it a really nice mouth feel and makes it perfect for drizzling over the final peppers. Mix it with lime juice, zest, cumin and a little salt and that’s it.
Some of the ingredients in this recipe might be unfamiliar and harder to find at your local grocery store but don’t let that stop you! I gave this recipe to two different people to test before I posted it because I wanted to see how it went for them. And they both had to make some substitutions. If you can find the all of the ingredients that’s awesome…I really love the combination of flavors and textures as written!
But this is real life and cooking doesn’t always go as planned so here’s a little help if you’re having trouble finding an ingredient.
If You Don’t Have…
- Poblanos are pretty easy to find in most large grocery stores, but if you can’t find them – or if you prefer the sweeter flavor of a bell pepper- you can use bell peppers instead. Hannah was telling me that cubanelles will work well, too, and that they’re also pretty easy to find.
- Asadero cheese can be difficult to find. It’s worth seeking out for it’s mellow flavor and awesome meltability (I think that’s a word?). It’s also referred to as Oaxaca or Oaxaca Queso. I was excited to find some at a La Plaza Supermarket, in Lakewood. If you’re local and you haven’t been there it’s worth a visit! But, if you can’t find it you can substitute another mellow, melty cheese like Monterey Jack, Chihuahua, Muenster, or fresh mozzarella.
- Mexican Crema is another ingredient you might not find on your grocery store shelf. Use regular sour cream and add a little more lime juice and an extra pinch of salt.
- Adobo is the smoky, spicy sauce that canned chipotles are packed in. It adds SO much flavor. I buy a can of chipotles, transfer it to a little glass jar and keep it in my fridge for up to 2 months. Wondering what to do with the rest? Make these Chipotle Chicken & Bell Pepper Tacos, or this Chipotle Dressing, or my Chipotle Rhubarb BBQ Sauce (can you tell I love chipotle???)
- Mexican Chorizo is a highly seasoned raw pork sausage. Don’t confuse it with Spanish Chorizo, which is a hard sausage that’s been cured. Flavor profiles and fat content can vary widely, depending on where you buy it. If yours is very greasy after cooking, drain it on paper towels and wipe out your skillet before completing the filling. I buy my chorizo from Keller Meats at The Exchange Market and it’s not greasy at all and the flavor is perfect for me. If you’re local, check them out! Also, taste it after it’s cooked, you may find you need more or less adobo and salt to get the final flavor where you want it.
A few days ago when I made this for the third time I realized I forgot to buy melty cheese. It was Saturday, I was in yoga pants and a “soft bra” (ladies, I know you KNOW what I’m talking about here lol) and the last thing I wanted to do was put on a real bra and run to the store. Then I remembered that we had string cheese. I opened 8 of them and fed them to my food processor.
Voila! Truth be told melty cheese is better but sometimes you just work with what you have 🙂
(if you look closely at the main photo you can tell the cheese isn’t quite as smooth as the other pictures…this is the fault of string cheese)
Put a pepper (or two) on a plate, drizzle with some cold lime crema, sprinkle with a spoonful (or two) of pico and enjoy!
I Hope You Try This Recipe And Love It As Much As We Do!!
I’d love to see and hear how it turns out for you! Let me know in the comments or take a picture and tag me on fb or Instagram @breathingandcooking
Happy cooking 🙂 !
- 3-4 poblano peppers
- 1 sweet potato
- 1 1/2 Tbsp avocado oil (or any neutral flavored oil), divided
- 1/3 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 lb bulk, raw chorizo
- 1-2 Tbsp adobo sauce* (optional)
- 1 can black beans, rinsed well and drained
- 1 lime, zested and juiced (save zest for crema)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 8 oz grated asadero cheese* (if you can't find asadaro use a mellow, white cheese that melts well- see notes)*
- 1/4 cup grated cotija cheese
- kosher salt and cracked pepper
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion
- 1 Tbsp finely diced jalapeno
- 1/2 lime
- 2 Tbsp chopped, fresh cilantro
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- Kosher salt to taste
- 1 cup Mexican crema* or sour cream (see notes)
- 1/2 lime, juiced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- pinch kosher salt
- reserved lime zest (from filling)
- Combine all pico ingredients in a bowl, taste and adjust to your liking. Set aside.
- Place sweet potato on foil lined baking pan and bake at 400°f for 45 minutes to one hour, or until very soft. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Discard skin and smash until smooth, set aside.
- While sweet potato bakes, heat 1/2 Tbsp oil in a pan. Add onion and stir over medium heat until soft but not brown. Add chorizo, breaking up meat and stirring until cooked through. Remove from heat (If your chorizo is very oily, remove to a paper towel lined plate, wipe skillet. and return chorizo/onion mixture to pan)
- Off heat, stir 1-2 Tbsp adobo sauce*, drained black beans, the juice of 1 lime, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1/2 cup pico and smashed sweet potato into chorizo mixture.
- Fold in all but 1/4 cup asadero cheese and half of the cotija. Taste and add kosher salt and/or a little lime juice as needed.
- Combine all crema ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Taste and adjust. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Wash and dry poblanos well. Slice in half from stem to tip and remove seeds and any light colored membrane. Drizzle with remaining Tbsp oil and rub all over peppers to lightly coat them. Season with kosher salt.
- Divide chorizo mixture evenly between all of the peppers and arrange them in a greased casserole dish just big enough to hold them. Sprinkle with remaining asadero and cotija cheese, cover tightly with foil and place in a preheated 375° f oven for 45 minutes.
- Uncover and continue baking another 15 minutes, until peppers are very soft and cheese is nice and golden. If casserole dish looks dry add up to 1/4 cup chicken broth, drizzling between peppers before returning to oven.
- If cheese isn't golden you can put them under the broiler for 1-2 minutes at the end of cooking - just watch carefully as they'll get brown quickly!
To serve, drizzle each pepper with crema and top with a couple Tbsp of pico. Garnish with cilantro and serve with lime wedges
- Adobo is the sauce canned chipotles are packed in. I like things spicy so I use more adobo. One Tablespoon gives it just a little heat and a lot of flavor. You can leave it out completely if you're sensitive to spicy flavors.
- oil content of chorizo varies greatly depending on where you get it. Some chorizo is very oily so drain it on paper towels if this is what you have.
- The flavor of chorizo can vary as well. taste yours after you brown it to see if you need to add anything. Mine was very mild so the adobo added a perfect smoky-spicy note.
- Asadero cheese is a soft, white Mexican cheese that has a mellow, buttery flavor and is excellent for melting. I highly suggest trying to find it but If you cannot find asadero you can substitute fresh mozzarella, Monterey jack or chihuaha. There's also a great Mexican 3 cheese blend that contains chihuaha, oaxana and cotija that's wonderful in this.
- Crema is Mexican sour cream. It's a little thinner than sour cream with a slightly higher fat content. Use it if you can find it, but you can sub regular sour cream (add a tiny bit more lime juice to thin it out and an extra pinch of salt) with similar results