Why meatless on Mondays? Not only is eating less animal protein a healthy diet choice, but curbing your meat consumption can have a significant environmental impact too. In 2006, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported that animal agriculture accounted for a full 19 percent of greenhouse gases—more than the transportation sector. Best of all, with recipes like these, going meatless can be a delicious weekly habit.
Most of the chiles I grow are super spicy and won’t be ready to harvest until they are red and ripe, which happens sometime in late September or even October. These chiles are meant to become hot sauce. But there is a corner of the garden that is dedicated to nonspicy peppers. They are bell peppers, long sweet peppers, and slightly spicy poblanos. This week, the kitchen garden is loaded down with them, just waiting to become dinner.
Something else happened this week: I was joined at my cooking school by my new business partner, Shelley Wiseman. Shelley and I cooked together, years ago, in the test kitchens of Gourmet. She is an expert at all kinds of cuisines but really excels in Mexican and French. This week, Shelley is cooking Mexican food, starting with those green poblanos from the garden.
There are many vegetarian dishes in Mexican cooking, and poblano enchiladas is one of my absolute favorites. It is deeply satisfying and uses all sorts of produce to create a hearty yet perfect-for-summer main dish.
6 poblano peppers
2 large white onions, cut into slices
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 (7-inch) corn tortillas
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 pound tomatillos
2 jalapeño peppers
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bunch cilantro
2 garlic cloves
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Preheat the grill.
Place the peppers over direct heat, turning them occasionally, until they are blackened. Place the peppers in a large paper bag, and fold the bag shut. Let the peppers steam until room temperature. Peel and discard the skins, stems, and seeds; then cut the peppers into 1/4-inch strips.
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes. Stir in the pepper strips, cream, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and boil until the cream is thickened, about 6 minutes. Reserve.
Brush the tortillas all over with some of the vegetable oil. Divide the pepper filling between the tortillas, and roll into cigar shapes. Place the filled enchiladas in a 3-quart baking dish.
Preheat the oven to 400° F.
Cover the tomatillos and jalapeños with water in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Continue boiling the tomatillos and jalapeños until they are very tender but still hold their shape, about 20 minutes. Puree the tomatillos and jalapeños, cilantro, and garlic with the cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Pour the tomatillo sauce over the enchiladas; then sprinkle the cheese on top. Bake until the cheese is golden and the filling is boiling, about 20 minutes. Serve.