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Our lighter take: Steven Raichlen's baked chiles rellenos

Steven Raichlen's chiles rellenos are baked, but we found they could be made even lighter and not lose on taste. (Photo courtesy of "Man Made Meals")Classic Mexican chiles rellenos typically involves large, cheese-filled peppers battered and fried. Steven Raichlen's cumin-infused stuffed peppers from his new cookbook “Man Made Meals: The Essential Cookbook for Guys” have raisins and pine nuts, adding Moroccan flair.

We were exceptionally impressed with the flavor and novelty of this baked version of the dish. We decided to try lightening it a bit more and the result was also delicious. And since Raichlen is a barbecue master, it would also be great to try cooking these peppers on the grill.

The original recipe gives a choice of peppers: poblano, Aneheim or Hatch chiles. We chose poblano peppers, which are usually mild but sometimes have sneaky heat. Kidney beans (black beans and pinto beans were other options) bring in a good amount of fiber, and we added a little more fiber by topping with Way Better Snacks brand multigrain tortilla chips.

We used walnuts instead of the pine nuts and reduced oil (originally 2-1/2 tablespoons), cheese (originally 12 ounces) and chips (originally 1 cup). The dish was originally to be drizzled with a tablespoon of olive oil before baking, which we didn't do.

Much of the recipe's fat comes from the nuts. Because walnuts are so healthful, and a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats as well as brain-boosting Omega-3 fatty acids, we did not reduce the amount used. Here's our version.

Steven Raichlen's baked chiles rellenos (lightened)

(4-8 servings)

4 large poblano peppers

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1/4 cup raisins

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 can (about 15 ounces) kidney beans, drained and rinsed

8 ounces (2 cups) coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese

1/4 cup crumbled multigrain tortilla chips

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut each pepper in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scrape out seeds and ribs.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, walnuts, raisins, cumin and black pepper. Cook until the onion is browned, stirring with a wooden spoon, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in cilantro after about 2 minutes.

3. Stir beans into the onion mixture and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and let bean mixture cool to room temperature, then stir in 1 cup of the cheese.

4. Spoon bean filling into peppers and arrange in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top, then sprinkle on the crushed tortilla chips. The stuffed peppers can be prepared up to a day ahead, covered and refrigerated. If you make ahead, sprinkle with the tortilla chips just before baking.

5. Bake the stuffed peppers until they are browned on top, the sides have softened, and the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 25 minutes.

Nutrition information (per stuffed pepper): 267 calories, 16g fat (6g saturated), 25mg cholesterol, 325mg sodium, 21g carbs, 5g fiber, 7g sugars, 12g protein


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