Thursday, January 13, 2011

Stuffed Jalapenos

Oh wow. It's not that frequently that I make a new dish that gets me as excited as I am right now. This is going to revolutionize my menus for a long time. Parties, football games on TV, lazy afternoons, late nights... may I introduce you to your new companion: The non-fried, vegan stuffed jalapeno popper. I found the inspiration for this recipe in one of my very old favorite cookbooks, Very Vegetarian. It's actually the first vegan cookbook I ever bought. It has some great stuff in it, but also some so-so stuff. I was flipping through it and saw a recipe which suggested stuffing jalapeno peppers with a mixture of mashed potatoes and almond meal. It sounded interesting enough to pique my interest, but also pretty boring. I decided to go for it but to make up my own recipe for the filling, still maintaining those two ingredients as the base. When I was just about ready to put these babies in the oven, I also had a thought to bread them with cornflake crumbs. Of course I stay away from frying things as much as possible, but to bread them in a crispy little coating before baking sounded like a good way to get a similar effect. I went ahead and breaded half of them and left the other half plain. Boy boy boy were these amazing. I can still taste them right now as I sit typing (and J is in the kitchen cleaning up the wreckage from the cooking storm). Yum yum yum. These take a bit of time, but they are completely worth it. These are now added to the esteemed company of Thai spring rolls, tempeh sushi, stuffed mushrooms and crispy baked egg rolls as the perfect food to serve when I have people over for pretty much any occasion. If you come to my apartment any time in the near future, you can be assured that this is what I will be serving. I just want to spread the good news!!

Gather the ingredients:
16 large jalapeno peppers
4 or so yukon gold potatoes
1/2 small onion
1 clove garlic
1 medium tomato
1/2 cup ground almonds or
almond meal
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp marjoram
1 Tbsp. lime juice
salt to taste
1/2 or so cup corn flake crumbs
1 1/2 Tbsp. Ener-G egg replacer powder mixed with about 3-4 Tbsp. unsweetened soy milk

OK, so the first step is to take about 16 jalapenos and to boil them in salted water for about 5 minutes. These jalapenos that I bought are HUGE, so you might need more if yours are not mutant like mine were. Rinse them in cold water to cool them down and slice each one lengthwise. My tip is to definitely wear some sort of disposable gloves during this process so you don't get spicy jalapeno all over you and then touch your get the picture. Take your fingers and/or a paring knife and remove all the seeds and internal ribs from the jalapenos. Take your time and do this right otherwise your peppers will be too spicy.

Meanwhile, cube the potatoes and boil them until very tender. Drain all the water but about 1/4 cup and mash them until smooth. You need about 3/4 cup of potatoes, so if you end up with too much just feed it to your husband or something. Chop the onion and garlic and saute for just a couple of minutes, then add the tomato, almond meal, nutritional yeast, spices, lime juice, salt and mashed potatoes. Stir to combine and remove from heat. You don't want the onions to be totally cooked, just enough to take the edge off.

Put the potato mixture in a medium-sized plastic ziplock bag, squeeze out the air and seal the bag. Cut off one of the corners of the bag so you have a little piping bag to fill the peppers. This works really well and makes is super easy to fill the peppers without making a big mess. Preheat your oven to about 350 degrees and fill each pepper with potato mixture.

I got the idea late in the game to bread the peppers with cornflake crumbs. I actually love cornflake crumbs because they are much more naturally crunchy than breadcrumbs or even panko, although panko would probably do in a pinch. I decided to bread half the peppers and leave the other half plain, but after eating them I recommend breading them all. It worked perfectly! I took about 1 Tbsp. of Ener-G Egg Replacer powder and mixed it with a few Tbsp. of soymilk. I won't go into a long explanation of Ener-G because the truth is that I use it very infrequently. It's just a powder you mix with liquid to create a consistency somewhat like an egg. It works well in baked goods...but we all know I don't really bake much. I bought one box about 100 years ago and I'm still working through it. Ener-G has basically no taste, but it seems to do the trick binding breading to things...I also like to use it when making breaded eggplant. So carefully dip the pepper into a small bowl of the Ener-G stuff and then coat in cornflake crumbs. Bake in a lightly oiled baking dish for 25 minutes until everything is warmed through and the filling is kind of bubbling.

I decided to serve these with pico de gallo and cilantro. I wouldn't suggest a very spicy salsa, but I do like the acidity of the tomato, so any mild salsa would do. I also paired it with a quick salad with lots of cilantro for some light freshness. I can't tell you enough times how delicious these are. Please do not be put off by the concept of peppers filled with potatoes and almonds... the consistency ends up extremely good and the flavors are really all up to what you mix in. I think I may even add some corn kernels or other items in the future depending on my mood. These peppers take a little time to make, but are completely worth it.

Nutrition Facts: Serving=1/4 recipe or 4 peppers. 201 calories; 8.3 g fat (0.6 sat); 0 mg cholesterol; 157 mg sodium; 26.7 g carbohyrate; 5.8 g fiber; 5.9 g sugar; 8.6 g protein; 19% vitamin A; 60% vitamin C; 25 % iron

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