Meatless Monday: Chiles Rellenos With Cherry Tomato Salsa

Meat-free, un-fried chiles rellenos pair perfectly with a pitcher of sangria for a Meatless Monday or Cinco de Mayo fiesta.
By: Michelle Buffardi
Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

Cinco de Mayo can be a slippery slope for vegetarians. I've been to many a fiesta where the margaritas and chips and salsa were the only vegetarian options. Margaritas for dinner always seems like a good idea, until the next morning when your head is pounding and you can't find your shoes.

Luckily, Mexican fare is easy to make meatless (though if you're at a restaurant, ask about the refried beans; sometimes they're made with lard). Bean burritos, veggie enchiladas, Mexican lasagna made with beans and corn, portobello tacos -- you don't have to starve if you're skipping the carne.

One of my favorite Mexican-restaurant meals is chiles rellenos, but I try not to order them too frequently because they're not only stuffed with cheese, but deep-fried. (Paired with a coupla' margaritas and a basket of free chips and you've got a meal that has about a billion calories.) But chiles rellenos don't have to be deep-fried, and they're super easy to make at home. Think about it: they're basically just stuffed peppers, made with chiles instead of bell peppers.

These un-fried chiles rellenos are filled with goat cheese and herbs and topped with a super-simple fresh salsa. Make extra salsa to snack on with chips while your chiles are cooking. The sharp flavors in this recipe would pair well with a red sangria, but if you're more of a margarita fan, you can't go wrong (ever, really) with a pitcher of Tyler Florence's Ultimate Margaritas.

Serves: 6
2 pounds cherry tomatoes
1 jalapeno chili, stemmed and finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
12 ancho chilies
1 pound soft goat cheese
4 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano or 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

To make the salsa, remove stalks from the tomatoes, then cut them into quarters if they are small and eighths if they are larger. Place with all the other salsa ingredients in a bowl and mix. You can use this right away or set aside for several hours in the refrigerator

Place the ancho chilies in a medium pot, cover with water and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, push the chilies into the water so that they are all submerged and set aside to soften for 15 minutes.

Lift the chilies out of the pot and reserve the liquid. When the chilies are cool enough to handle, pull off the stalks and scoop out the seeds, keeping the chilies whole.

Put the cheese, chives and oregano in a bowl and mash with a fork to mix. Stuff the chilies with the cheese mixture and pinch closed. Arrange the stuffed chilies in a single layer in a steamer basket. Pour enough of the reserved liquid into the steamer to make a 3/4-inch layer (make up with water if necessary). Steam for 15 minutes or until the chilies puff out and are tender. Transfer to a platter and surround with the salsa.

More Recipes for Cinco de Mayo:
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