Monday, February 14, 2011
Polenta-Stuffed Poblano Peppers
I, for one, am happy to see asparagus back in the super market produce selection. Thank you California! The best place to buy asparagus is from your local farmer's market, however, it is not quite time in Colorado to be picking asparagus as there are still inches of unmelted snow covering our land. I am looking forward to April and May when we get the freshest, local asparagus. Did you know that asparagus is a member of the lily family? It is also a natural diuretic and loaded with a myriad of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C and K, folate and potassium. Folate...that sounds familiar. Oh yeah, folate, the B vitamin that naturally occurs in food that doctors are always telling pregnant women they need a supplement for (which is actually folic acid). Rest assured, folate is a naturally occurring vitamin in leafy green vegetables (go figure, right?), fruits (especially citrus fruits), and dried beans and peas. In fact, the folate in prenatal vitamins is actually folic acid, a synthetic form of folate...so you are not actually getting folate in those prenatals, you are getting a denatured form of folate. Best to get your nutrients from whole foods...real, living, food. Educate, educate, educate yourself about the best forms of food to put into your body. It if comes in a box, plastic, has more than 5 ingredients in it or comes in a pill form, put it back on the shelf!
Red Chili Sauce
Makes about 3 1/2 cups
Total Time: 25 minutes
3-4 ounces dried Chile de Arbol chiles (come in a pkg in the mexican food aisle) or other dried chiles
2 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth (or 1/2 broth and 1/2 water if your broth is strongly flavored like Pacific)
In a large sauce pan or a kettle bring 1 quart of water to boil. Have ready a medium sized glass or metal heat-resistant bowl.
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. While skilled is heating slice open dried chiles, remove stems and seeds and open chilies so that they can be easily flattened when pressed with a spatula. Place chilies in heated skillet, pressing and stirring frequently to toast, a little less than a minute. Watch carefully to prevent chilies from burning. Remove skillet from heat and place chilies in a heat resistant bowl. Pour boiling water over chilies and set aside for 10 minutes, allowing chilies to soften. Drain water from chilies.
In a large sauce pan combine oil and onion and cook over medium heat until onion is translucent about 5-7 minutes. Add chopped garlic and stir frequently until sizzling and fragrant for about 1 minute. Stir in oregano and cumin, then pour in softened chilies, tomato sauce and vegetable stock. Either use an immersion blender or pour into a blender jar and puree mixture to create a smooth sauce. Return to the sauce pan if the blender jar is used.
Bring pureed mixture to a simmer over medium heat and stir frequently, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Set aside.
Polenta-Stuffed Poblano Peppers
Total Time: 35 minutes
4 poblano peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
1/2 cup instant polenta (non-instant will work just as well)
1/2 package of frozen or fresh corn
1/2 cup black beans
1/4 cup Daiya cheese (optional)
4 scallions, sliced
Heat broiler. On a rimmed broiler-proof baking sheet, place the pappers cut-side down. Broil until tender and charred, turning the peppers halfway through, 5 to 8 minutes.Spread half the chili sauce in a 9-by-13 inch baking dish. Arrange the peppers in the dish, cut-side up.
In a medium saucepan, bring 2 1/4 cups water to a boil. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Gradually whisk in the polenta. Cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes (if you are using non-instant polenta, this will take about a half hour so account for time while preparing other parts of the dish). Stir in the corn, black beans, cheese, and all but 2 tablespoons of the scallions.
Divide the polenta among the peppers. Top with the remaining sauce and bake until heated through, 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining scallions before serving.