Saturday, June 2, 2012

Grilling on Meatless (Monday) Memorial Day

I committed to observing Meatless Mondays back in November, it didn't occur to me that some holidays, like Memorial Day, would be Mondays.  I'm not sure why this simple fact escaped me, since Memorial Day is always a Monday. So, there we were, talking about the high holy day of grilling and needing a menu that was...... meatless. Sure, we've grilled our share of vegetables in the past, but they were side dishes. We needed a main course!

Some number of months ago we made a vegetarian version of stuffed peppers that turned out great. I love stuffed peppers and it occured to us that we had grilled peppers before so off to the Google machine we went. It wasn't long before we found a promising one at the website. In the spirit of full disclosure, they referenced their version as being adapted from one they had seen on As always, we are grateful for the inspiration and wanted to credit both of these sources for inspiring our version.

Stuffed Poblanos with Black bean and Cheese

Cojita Cheese
  • 1/2 cup uncooked short grain rice
  • 3/4 cup water (rice) + 1/4 cup water (beans)
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 6 medium poblano peppers
  • 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup grated Cotija cheese (approx 3-4 oz)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 fat scallions, chopped 
  • 1 jalapeno, finely chopped (keeps seeds and membrane if you'd like more heat)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 large white onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil

  • Saute onion in cooking oil until translucent and soft
  • Add 1/2 jalapeno and cumin, saute 1 additional minute
  • Add black beans and tomato paste, saute 1 additional minute
  • Add 1/4 cup water (or stock, or beer), saute 5 minutes
  • Let cool and reserve this mixture.

  • Add rice, 3/4 cup water and 1/2 tsp salt to a medium sauce pan
  • Bring mixture to a boil
  • Cover pan and reduce heat to low
  • Cook until water is fully absorbed (about 10 minutes). The rice will be slightly undercooked - this is good.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool.

  • Place  the bean and onion mixture in a bowl
  • Using the back of a fork, lightly mash about 1/2 of the mixture
  • Add sour cream, cheese, cilantro, scallions, remaining jalapeno, and pepper into the beans
  • Gently fold in cooled rice
  • Taste and season if necessary with additional salt and black pepper

  • Cut out tops of peppers, reserving caps.  It works best if you jig jag your knife around the top to create a cap that works only with the pepper it came from.  Flat cuts don't hold as well, even with toothpicks.
  • Remove ribs and seeds as best you can without breaking the sides of the peppers.
  • Fill each pepper loosely, as the rice will expand some during cooking.  We used a chopstick to help move the rice mixture into the nooks and crannies of the poblanos.
  • Replace caps and seal them with toothpicks.

  •  Cook the peppers for 25-30 minutes on low heat on the grill, turning on each side every 6-7 minutes
  • The skin will blister and blacken some -- this is a good thing.
  • Serve hot!

The filling was creamy and delicious but I'll admit I was expecting more from the jalapeno. What's up with jalapenos these days? Seems like they have bred most of the heat out of them. Even leaving in the veins and seeds doesn't help that much. We did what any spicy food lover would do -added our favorite hot sauce, Cholula.

Earlier in the weekend we had visited one of our local Farmer's Markets and scored some great seasonal produce; early corn from down south, sugar snap peas and a couple of baby zucchini. As you can see from the picture above, we grilled the corn at the same time as the peppers. It was a perfect match, 30 minutes on low heat right in the husk. One of the advantages of grilling corn this way is that the corn silk comes off really easily when it's done. No fuss, no muss, no silk all over the kitchen floor.

We sliced the baby zucchini the long way and brushed on an herbed olive oil. Then grilled it very briefly, directly on the grates, just enough to give it some marks and get it hot all the way through.

Lastly, we cooked the peas by using one of our favorite tricks. After cleaning them we simply put them in a wrap of parchment paper, seasoned them, added a couple of pats of butter and a few ice cubes. We sealed the whole thing in heavy duty aluminum foil making sure all the edges were tightly closed. The ice cubes melt once on the heat and provide the moisture that steams them inside the foil pack.

Less than five minutes on the grill on high and they were perfectly steamed and delicious.  Our pups, Jack and Cooper, love steamed pea pods of any type, so I always try and add a few extra for 'treats'.

While I did miss my big once-a-year-on-Memorial-Day treat of a Martin Rosol hotdog and kelly dog, the creamy rich filling of the fruity (with a little bite)poblano was a fine substitute.  Very satisfying in the way only rice and beans can be.  I'll just have to order my dog and kelly for the Fourth of July.  Luckily, not on a Monday this year!
Four Seasons Food
Four Seasons Food hosted by Delicieux and Chezfoti


  1. Sounds delicious! I really appreciate your method of adding ice to moisten the peas on the grill. Very clever!

    1. Thanks for reading and for your comment. We peas really do come out perfectly steamed and still plump this way.

  2. Hi Al! It's lovely to have you enter something in our first Four Seasons Food Challenge and your offerings are just perfect :) Love the little peppers, love the simple grilled veg and the clever way with peas. I also love to eat lots of the freshest seasonal veg like this through the Summer. It just tastes so great straight off the grill. xx

    1. Thanks Anneli! I have gotten very lazy about writing for the blog and your new Four Seasons Food Challenge will be a motivation for me to "get back to it".

      Our garden is starting to take shape nicely and we should have lots of fresh produce as the seasons progress. Right now we're swimming is strawberries!

  3. Thanks for entering your gorgeous recipe to our new Four Seasons Food challenge Al. Those peppers look divine. I often grill courgettes as a tasty little side but have never thought of cooking peas like this - what a fab idea!. My kids are huge fans of fresh peas and I know they'd take great delight in eating them like this. Thanks again, Louisa

  4. Louisa, thanks for your kind comments! Now that summer is just around the corner, we will be doing more and more "veggie grilling".


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