Lentil Chiles Rellenos with Creamy Walnut Sauce
Amazing flavors and textures shine in this meatless play on the famous Mexican chiles en nogada. The chiles, filling, and walnut goat cheese sauce can all be made ahead of time. Makes 12 to 15 chiles rellenos. Figure 2 rellenos person. If your chiles are larger (like poblanos), consider serving only one person.
Servings: 10 chiles rellenos.
For the walnut sauce:
- 1 1/4 cups walnuts
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 8 ounces goat cheese
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon fine 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 fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 3/4 teaspoon 5-spice powder
- Freshly ground pepper
- 10 to 12 Mild whole green chiles (see note)
- Pomegranate seeds
- Parsley or cilantro leaves , for garnish, optional
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 chile filling:
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. Remove from heat and deglaze the pan with apple juice. Mix into the cooked lentils, along with the dates, almonds, salt, oregano, 5-spice powder, and about 20 turns from the pepper grinder.
Assemble and bake:
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 sturdiest canned green chiles, ones that don’t tear easily when stuffed, are Ortega original fire roasted chiles, which I found at Smith’s, our local Kroger store.
- One (4-ounce) can whole green chiles yields 3 or 4 chiles. One larger (7-ounce) can yields about 6 chiles.