Lentil chiles rellenos with creamy walnut sauce are a delicious meatless play on the famous Mexican dish, chiles en nogada. Oh the colors, flavors, and textures! These have the traditional almond crunch, dried fruit sweetness, warm spices, not to mention the creamy white sauce and crimson pomegranate garnish. But the filling in these chiles begins with rustic lentils and golden meaty mushrooms. When you bite in, pretend you’re in the heart of Mexico.
When traveling in Mexico, and finding chiles en nogada on a restaurant menu, I always dreamed of a vegetarian version. I once asked the chef to make me some without meat. He obliged, but they came served cold, and I was totally disappointed. So, I’m stoked to share this recipe, these fantastic stuffed mild chiles, served hot, with warm creamy goat cheese walnut sauce.
For the filling, mix sautéed onions, garlic, and mushrooms with cooked lentils, adding chopped almonds and dates, 5-spice powder, and oregano. 5-spice powder is amazing here; it’s the perfect complement and bumps up the flavors in both the sauce and meatless filling.
The goat cheese walnut sauce is easy to make too. Simply blanch the walnuts and let them soak to soften, then blend with milk, goat cheese, honey, 5-spice, and cinnamon.
Typically, chiles en nogada are made with poblano chiles. Here, for ease and quicker assembly, I use canned mild green chiles. To be a little more traditional, follow the chile roasting and peeling instructions in my recipe for Poblano Chiles Stuffed with Potatoes and Cheese. This recipe for Chickpea Chiles Rellenos also shows how to prepare poblano chiles for stuffing.
Create a fiesta starring these eye-popping vegetarian chiles en nogada—serve with Mexican rice and a simple salad with cumin lime dressing. Tequila anyone? How about some bright pink hibiscus margaritas?
Lentil Chiles Rellenos with Creamy Walnut Sauce recipe notes:
- You may already know that relleno (ray-yay-no) means filled. If the menu offers chiles rellenos, it’s a given that the chiles are stuffed with something. It could be cheese or spicy meat, or sautéed vegetables, potatoes, or beans–whatever you put inside, they’re chiles rellenos.
- Sturdy green canned chiles that don’t tear when stuffed are Ortega original fire roasted chiles, which I found at Smith’s, our local Kroger store.
- Make ahead: Stuff the chiles and freeze them, then thaw and bake when you want. The walnut sauce also freezes well and easily comes back together under gentle heat. You can bang the pomegranate seeds out ahead of time too.
- Check out this video showing the easy way to remove the seeds from a pomegranate.
Virtually, Becky of The Vintage Mixer blog gathers a group of recipe-writing bloggers every month to come up with recipes featuring a fruit or veggie from her seasonal produce guide. Lentil Chiles Rellenos with Creamy Walnut Sauce showcase chiles from October’s list.
Be sure to check out The Vintage Mixer’s first post this month, a roundup of seasonal produce recipe ideas. And, for more ideas, follow the blog links below to see what everybody else made this month. We hope our recipes encourage you to get in the kitchen and cook something seasonal!
Turkey Pumpkin Pot Pie by Kitchen Confidante
Roasted Chicken with Figs and Butternut Squash by Vintage Mixer
Chorizo, Black Bean, and Kabocha Squash Chili by Flavor the Moments
Roasted Root Vegetable Soup by Joy Food Sunshine
Spiced Zucchini Pear Cake with Brown Butter Glaze by Completely Delicious
Orange Spiced Salmon with Spaghetti Squash by Foodie Crush
Pork Chops with Roasted Pears, Sage and Shallots By Simple Bites
Marinated Zucchini with Red Peppers and Garlic by Project Domestication
Roasted Red Cabbage Wedges with Za’atar by Floating Kitchen
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Amazing flavors and textures shine in this meatless play on the famous Mexican chiles en nogada. The whole dish is easy to put together and the chiles and walnut goat cheese sauce can be made ahead of time.
- For the walnut sauce:
- 1 1/4 cups walnuts
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 8 ounces goat cheese
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon 5-spice powder
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- For the lentil filling:
- 1 cup brown lentils (see note)
- 3 cups water
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¾ cup chopped onion (one medium)
- 8 ounces mushrooms, diced in 1/2-inch pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons apple juice
- 1/3 cup chopped dates
- 1/3 cup chopped whole almonds
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 3/4 teaspoon 5-spice powder
- Freshly ground pepper
- Mild whole green chiles (see note)
- Pomegranate seeds, for garnish
- Make the walnut sauce:
- Place walnuts in a saucepan with cold water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes, to soften the nuts. Drain. Bring the milk to just below a boil. Turn off the heat and add the softened walnuts. Let sit 10 minutes.
- In a blender, blend the milk and walnuts with the goat cheese, honey, salt, 5-spice powder, and cinnamon until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Taste, adding salt if you think it’s needed. Transfer to a saucepan and heat through, but do not boil. Keep warm. This sauce thickens as it stands—you may need to thin with more milk.
- For the chiles:
- Rinse the lentils, checking them over for little rocks masquerading as lentils. Put them in a pot with the water and salt. Over low flame, simmer until tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a bowl.
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high flame. Add the onions, mushrooms, and garlic, and cook until the onions are soft and take on a little color. Mix into the cooked lentils, along with the dates, almonds, salt, oregano, 5-spice powder, and about 20 turns from the pepper grinder.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Rinse the chiles and pat dry. Fill each chile with lentil mixture. (You may have some filling leftover.) Place the chiles in a casserole dish.
- Cover and bake 20 minutes, until heated through.
- Serve hot, with warm walnut sauce, and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.
- Green or black lentils can be substituted for the brown lentils.
- The most sturdy green chiles, canned chiles that don’t tear when stuffed, are Ortega original fire roasted chiles, which I found at Smith’s, our local Kroger store.