Ever since my 13-year-old self read Like Water for Chocolate and cried her eyes out, I’ve been dying to try chiles en nogada. Incredibly, I ate it for the first time today, 15 years after I vowed to make it as soon as possible. Well, good things come to those who wait.
I should start by saying that this isn’t the traditional chiles en nogada. For one thing, it’s completely vegan – no ground meat whatsoever. For another, the walnut sauce has hemp seeds in it (trust me, you won’t know – they just make it nice and creamy!) And finally, while traditional chiles en nogada is quite heavy on the fruit (the meat filling is usually cooked with raisins, apple, pear, and peach), I just put some chopped raisins in mine for a bit of sweetness and called it a day. Not out of laziness, but because I’ve never been a fan of fruit-heavy savory dishes. Some people also dip their chiles en egg batter and fry them — I chose to leave mine roasted and unfried.
Well, the gods were with me. Because I created a truly delicious (IMHO) vegan, gluten-free twist on the classic dish I’ve been wanting to eat since age 13. Roasted poblanos are filled with a savory mixture of juicy portobellos, lentils, spices, walnuts, and raisins; topped with a thick and creamy walnut sauce; and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. As in the traditional recipe, the colors of the Mexican flag are well represented: just in time for Cinco de Mayo. (Although chiles en nogada is generally eaten for Mexican Independence Day –- which falls in September — it is one of Puebla’s traditional dishes, which makes it appropriate for Cinco de Mayo in my book! Especially since your standard American-style nachos are deemed appropriate and would basically not exist in Puebla!)
Anyway, if you have a couple hours to spare (nothing with stuffed roasted poblanos is ever quick and easy to prepare), I highly recommend this recipe. The filling is just the right amount of sweet and savory, and the walnut sauce provides the perfect creamy compliment. Plus it’s just so elegant!