Meatless Monday: Cinco De Mayo Edition

By: Patty Lee
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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?

Chock full of herbs and spices, Mexican cuisine is one of the easiest to take meatless without losing any of its bold flavors. Take, for example, this recipe for spicy  chiles rellenos, the perfect veg-centric entree for your Cinco de Mayo bash. The restaurant favorite is easy to do at home, especially when you skip the traditional deep-frying method. To make this fiery south-of-the-border meal, stuff boiled ancho chilies with goat cheese and fresh herbs, steam them until fork tender, then top the lot with a jalapeno-laced salsa. Extinguish the heat with a round of margaritas, or sweeten things up with classic Mexican desserts.

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)
1/4 teaspoon salt
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.

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