Squash-Stuffed Roasted Poblano Peppers

Fresh poblanos have a wonderful, somewhat sweet heat, so they make a terrific casing for rich-tasting squash stuffing. Accompanied by corn tortillas or rice and beans, this makes a special vegetarian entree, but you might also consider it as a side dish for your Thanksgiving table. Most of the preparation can be done in advance and the recipe can easily be doubled.


To make ahead: Make squash puree up to 2 days ahead, or prepare recipe through Step 5; cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. |


Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups butternut squash puree or frozen pureed squash (see "To Roast & Puree Winter Squash," below)
4 poblano peppers (see Tip)
2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon frozen pineapple-juice concentrate, thawed
2 teaspoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 cup crumbled queso blanco (see Ingredient Note) or grated Monterey Jack
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream or low-fat plain yogurt

1. Make squash puree. If using frozen squash, cook according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, roast peppers: Place over a gas flame and roast, turning as needed, until blackened on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes. (Alternatively, broil peppers on a baking sheet, turning from time to time, until blackened on all sides, 4 to 8 minutes.) Transfer to a paper bag and seal or place in a medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for about 10 minutes.

3. Mix the squash puree, cornmeal, pineapple-juice concentrate, butter, cumin, oregano and salt in a large bowl until smooth.

4. Peel the peppers and rinse. A few blackened specks left on them will be fine. Make a long incision down one side of each pepper. Gently pry peppers open, then scoop out seeds and membranes, taking care not to tear the soft skin.

5. Carefully spoon about 1/3 cup squash filling into each pepper, followed by 2 tablespoons queso blanco (or Monterey Jack). Gently fold peppers closed.

6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place flour, egg and breadcrumbs in 3 separate shallow dishes. Dredge each pepper in flour, roll in egg, then coat with breadcrumbs. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add peppers and cook until lightly browned all over, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet.

7. Bake peppers until the cheese has melted and the filling is hot, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream (or yogurt).

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 305 calories; 12 g total fat (5 g sat, 4 g mono); 74 mg cholesterol; 39 g carbohydrate; 11 g protein; 4 g fiber; 473 mg sodium...the sodium level seemms high; perhaps avoid the queso blanco, and check with your Dr. to determine acceptable levels of sodium.

TIP:
Look for dark green poblanos about 5 inches long, with broad shoulders at the stem, tapering to a pointy tip. Wash your hands thoroughly after removing the seeds or wear rubber gloves; most of the chile oils are found in the seeds and connective membranes.

Ingredient Note: Queso blanco, also known as queso fresco, is a soft, slightly salty fresh Mexican cheese. You can find it in Latin markets and many supermarkets.

B-man