For those of you who have taken a vegetarian (or vegan) cooking class from me this recipe will be very familiar. And for those of you who have not been lucky enough to take one of my cooking classes; I thought I would be kind enough to share this recipe with you.
Like Water for Chocolate is an amazing book, and a good movie, about a young Mexican girl (Tia) and her long and heart wrenching story of love and food. How these two mold her life, in both virtuous and ruthless ways.
This dish, Chiles in Walnut Sauce, are served at a wedding feast (and if I told you the whole story you would never read the book or see the movie, and you really need to read the book and see the movie); putting several very special ingredients into the sauce and shares something very special with the wedding party.
“Like Water for Chocolate” Chiles with Walnut Sauce, stuffed with Lentils
1 ¼ cups Red lentils2 Cinnamon sticks
2 ½ cups Water
For filling¼ cup Cider vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp Sugar
15 Dried apricots, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup Golden raisins
1 cup Water
½ tsp Ground allspice½ tsp Freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup Raw almonds, coarsely chopped
1cup Yellow squash, small dice
1 tsp Orange zest
4 oz Oaxacan cheese, cut into small cubes
8 large Poblano chiles (approximately 2 lb total), roasted, peeled and seeded
For sauce½ cup Walnuts, roughly chopped
2 tbsp to ¼ cup Raw almonds, roughly chopped
1 to 1 ½ cup Half and half
1 tbsp Sugar
¼ tsp Salt
4 oz Queso fresco, crumbled
½ cup Fresh pomegranate seeds**
In a small saucepot simmer lentils and cinnamon sticks in water until just tender but not falling apart, 20 to 30 minutes, and drain.
Combine cider vinegar, sugar, dried apricots, golden raisins and water in a saucepot. Cook over medium low heat, simmering till fruit is plump and rehydrated, or until liquid is evaporated (about 8 minutes).
In a large bowl stir together ground allspice, nutmeg, almonds, yellow squash, orange zest and cheese. Add to cooked fruit; along with lentils, gently stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Divide filling among chiles, then close, overlapping sides of openings slightly. Transfer, seam sides up, to a foil lined shallow baking dish, then cover with foil Bake until heated through and squash is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
While the chiles cook, purée walnuts, almonds, 1 cup half and half, salt and sugar in a food processor or blender; until smooth and silky, about 2 minutes.(Sauce should coat back of a large spoon. If sauce is too thin, add more almonds and puree. If too thick, add more half and half.)
Transfer chiles to plates; pour walnut sauce over each chile, leaving some of chile visible, then sprinkle chiles with pomegranate seeds and Queso fresco.
* To roast the peppers; place the poblano pepper on a low flame on the gas burner or bbq and burn the outside skin. Don't be alarmed if you hear popping from the pepper. Place in a brown paper bag till cool enough to touch. Rub the burnt skin off of the pepper. Cut an opening on the side of the pepper and scrape out the seeds and membranes, leaving the stem intake (if possible).
**If pomegranates are not in season you can substitute finely diced dries cherries, cranberries or pomegranate flavored cranberries.