Poblano Peppers with Mushroom, Corn, Bacon and Herb Quinoa
Here’s a simple, flavorful dish suitable for a quick weeknight supper that takes only around 45 minutes from start to finish.
Whole poblanos are quickly charred — on the grill, over a gas stove flame, under the broiler — then left to steam so their skins easily slip off. While the peppers do their thing, the quinoa burbles away unattended on the stove, leaving you to crisp the bacon and use its rendered fat to saute the rest of the veg: mushrooms, corn kernels and scallions. All that remains is to stuff each poblano, and let fresh herbs + chilli flakes + the crumbled bacon rain down.
What’s in it for me?
Poblano peppers are rich in vitamin C, and also contain folate, fiber and potassium, and vitamins A, B6, and K.* With an earthy, fruity flavor, poblanos (usually) have little to no heat; though they’re still a source of the “heat” compound capsaicin, which stimulates release of endorphins to naturally fight stress and pain.
Often considered a grain, quinoa is actually a seed, making it naturally gluten-free. One of the few plant sources of complete protein (8 g per cup, cooked), it contains all 9 of the 20 essential amino acids, as well as plenty of fiber, magnesium, and free radical-fighting antioxidants. Quinoa also contains heart-healthy omega-3 fats and monounsaturated oleic acid.
The kernels from 1/2 ear of corn provides roughly 10% of your daily niacin (B3), phosphorous, vitamin B6, with just under 10% of your thiamin (B1), magnesium, zinc and choline. Mushrooms are surprising sources of some B vitamins, selenium and copper, and are among the few plant sources of vitamin D (particularly those grown under UV light).
Basil has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, is rich in antioxidant rosmarinic acid, and is an herb with one of the highest amounts of beta-carotene + beta-cryptoxanthin and lutein + zeaxanthin. Scallions (green onions) and chives provide antioxidant vitamins A and C, as well as sulfur that helps the body synthesize glutathione — critical to controlling inflammation and fighting infections.
Bacon per 1/2-ounce (the total amount in this recipe) contains only about 60 calories and 2 g saturated fat (5 g total fat), plus 4 g protein. I usually recommend the lower-sodium versions, which typically cut sodium by about 25% — down from an average of just over 10% of the recommended DV to just under 10%.
Quinoa salad in blackened poblanos is a speedy but sophisticated meal, a guaranteed winner — for guests or family, adults or littles — any day of the year.
Tell me… Have you tried stuffing poblano peppers, or do you cook with them other ways?
- 4 small- to medium-sized poblano peppers
- 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 2 thin slices bacon, preferably lower-sodium
- 1 cup coarsely chopped white or brown mushrooms (about 4 to 5 medium-sized mushrooms)
- 1/2 cup corn kernels, thawed from frozen or cut fresh from the cob (about 1 medium-sized ear)
- 4 small scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon (or orange or lime), juice
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil (or other fresh herb of your choosing), to garnish
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives (or 2 tsp dried), to garnish
- Dried red chilli flakes, to garnish (optional)
- Char the poblano peppers over the flame of a grill or gas stove, or under the broiler (see HGN Notes), about 5 minutes per side, or until all sides are blackened. Immediately transfer the peppers to a paper bag or a medium bowl, and fold the bag over tightly or seal the bowl with plastic wrap; let steam 20 minutes.
- In a small saucepan, bring 2/3 cup water to a boil. Add the rinsed quinoa, cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the quinoa is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes, then fluff it up with a fork.
- Meanwhile, preheat a large skillet over medium-high and cook the bacon slices until crisp, about 4 minutes. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain; crumble or roughly chop when cool. Pour off all but 1 tsp of the rendered bacon fat from the skillet. Add the mushrooms; cook 4 to 5 minutes, or until softened and browning. Add the corn and scallions; cook an additional 2 minutes to heat through. In the final moments, stir through your fluffed quinoa and the fresh-squeezed lemon or orange juice. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm while you prepare the peppers.
- When the poblanos are cool enough to handle, use your fingers to rub/peel off the skins, careful not to tear the pepper itself. Keeping the stem intact, cut a small lengthwise slit (stem to tip direction) in each pepper, and carefully remove the seeds (again, your fingers are the best tools).
- Stuff each poblano with 1/4 of the warm quinoa-veg mixture, and top each with 1/4 of the crumbled bacon. Garnish by sprinkling over the fresh herbs and, if desired, a few chilli flakes.
+ Vary the veg to what's fresh and in season -- dark leafy winter greens like kale, collards or chard, crucifers like green or red cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli or cauliflower, earthy beets, spicy spring radishes and tender baby peas, or late summer tomatoes and eggplant.
+ Use different herbs in place of the basil and chives, such as fresh thyme, tarragon, mint, rosemary, oregano or sage.
+ Experiment with other whole grains, such as bulgur, brown rice, barley, brown rice, millet or farro.
+ Make it vegetarian by omitting the bacon (use olive oil in place of the bacon grease) and substituting a plant-based protein like edamame, strips of roasted or grilled tofu or tempeh, or a bit of crumbled feta, goat, blue or other cheese or a spoon of plain Greek yogurt.
An HGN original recipe.
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