Mac & Cheese Stuffed Poblanos with Red Mole Sauce

After a long hiatus, I’ve decided to start blogging again. Yay! Over the last year I’ve had to go gluten free, so I had to rework many of my recipes. So from this point forward, all recipes posted here are both vegan and gluten free.

To kick things off I’ve prepared a “3 in 1” dish: Mac & Cheese Stuffed Poblanos with Red Mole Sauce. You can prepare the entire dish, just the Mac & Cheese, or just the Red Mole Sauce (for enchiladas, etc.). This dish took inspiration from jalapeno poppers — spicy and gooey cheese. The mole sauce adds a rich, sophisticated flavor from the roasted seeds and spices.

Ingredients:

6 Poblano peppers

Mac & Cheese

1/2 package (8oz) gluten free pasta, prepared according to package directions
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup water
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 Tb olive oil
1 tsp sambal chili paste
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric

Red Mole Sauce

1/2 C pumpkin seeds
1T sesame seeds
10 dried chili peppers
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp peppercorns
1/2 whole star anise
3 shallots (not peeled)
1tsp oregano
1 large onion
2TB olive oil
12oz jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
28oz can crushed tomatoes
salt to taste

Let’s start with the peppers. Preheat your broiler. Wash & dry the poblano peppers and place them on a broiler pan. Broil until skin bubbles and has dark spots — about 10 minutes on each side. When the peppers are done, transfer them to a covered bowl to cool.

Prepare the pasta according to package directions if you haven’t done so yet.

While the peppers are broiling, get started on the Red Mole Sauce. Heat a small cast iron pan on high. Add the pumpkin seeds and toast until they begin to brown and pop. About 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a glass bowl and then add the sesame seeds, chili peppers, cumin seeds, peppercorns and star anise to the pan. Toast for a minute or so until the spices are fragrant and begin to pop. Add those to the bowl of toasted pumpkin seeds and set aside to cool. 

Now place the shallots in the same hot pan. You want the skins to char on all sides, so turn them in the pan every 3-4 minutes. In all it should take about 10-12 minutes to roast the shallots. Set aside to cool.

Place all of the toasted spices, seeds and dried peppers in a spice grinder (or coffee grinder) and grind into a powder. Peel and dice the shallots.

Heat a heavy bottomed stock pot on high heat. Add the olive oil and onions. Sprinkle with salt and cook for 3-4 minutes until the onions begin to soften. Add the shallots and roasted red pepper. Cook for another minute and then add the ground spice mixture and the oregano. Cook for 1-2 minutes and add the tomatoes and a little salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes and then reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer for 20 minutes. 

Transfer sauce to a blender and puree until smooth.
While the mole sauce is simmering, make the cheese sauce. Add all the cheese sauce ingredients to a high speed blender and puree until it’s creamy and begins to thicken. (I did three minutes in my Vitamix). Mix sauce and cooked pasta together. (If you’re making just the Mac & Cheese, you’re done!) Set aside to stuff into the peppers.

Preheat your oven to 350. Have a lightly oiled baking dish on hand for the stuffed peppers. The peppers should be cool enough to handle now. Gently peel the skins off the peppers. Make a slit in the side of each pepper and carefully scoop out the seeds. Stuff each pepper with the mac & cheese and place in the baking dish with the slit side up. 

Ladle 1/2 the red mole sauce over the top of the peppers. Bake for 3o minutes. Leftover mole sauce can be frozen or used for another meal this week.

Alternate serving suggestion: if you like the crusty top on baked mac & cheese, serve the mole sauce on the side for dipping instead of baking with the sauce.