Like a super veggie burrito, these stuffed peppers are loaded with rice, black beans, sour cream, cheese, tomatoes, and cilantro, then grilled until the peppers are charred and tender. Serve them as a vegetarian main course or as a starter—all you need to pair them with is a cold beer.
What to buy: Look for poblano peppers that are all about the same size; cooking time and portions will be more consistent that way.
Cotija is a crumbly Mexican cheese that can be found in Latin markets and many grocery stores.
Game plan: You can stuff the peppers up to 4 hours ahead. Take them out of the fridge 30 minutes before grilling to let them come to room temperature.
- 1Place the rice in a colander or a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold water until the water runs clear. Combine the rice, measured water, and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low; cook until the water is completely absorbed, about 10 minutes (the rice will be slightly undercooked). Remove the lid and set the pan aside to let the rice cool. Meanwhile, prepare the peppers.
- 2Use a paring knife to cut a wide circle around each stem (like when carving a jack-o’-lantern), so you end up with a cap that can be replaced once you’ve stuffed the peppers—be careful not to puncture or rip the peppers. Remove and discard any seeds and membranes from the cap and from the interior; set the peppers aside.
- 3Place the beans in a large bowl. Using a potato masher or the back of a fork, lightly mash them (some whole beans should remain).
- 4Add the tomatoes, scallions, Cotija, sour cream, cilantro, cumin, measured black pepper, and remaining tablespoon of salt and mix until evenly combined. Gently mix in the cooled rice. Taste the mixture and, if necessary, season with more salt and pepper. (Note that the filling should be quite salty to compensate for there being no salt on the peppers.)
- 5Divide the rice mixture into 6 equal portions. Stuff each pepper with the filling, replace the caps, and press each cap into the filling. Pierce 2 toothpicks through each cap and out the sides of each pepper to secure them while on the grill; set aside until ready to cook. (If you’re stuffing the peppers more than 30 minutes before grilling, cover and refrigerate them for up to 4 hours. Let the peppers sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes before grilling so that they cook faster and more evenly.)
- 6Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium (about 350°F to 450°F). Place the stuffed peppers on their sides and cover the grill. Grill, rolling each pepper a quarter turn every 7 minutes or so to cook all four sides, until the the filling is hot, the skins of the peppers are well-charred, and the flesh is soft to the touch, about 30 minutes total. Remove the toothpicks. If serving as a side dish, slice the peppers in half lengthwise.
Beverage pairing: Dos Equis Amber, Mexico. A soft amber lager brings together the mellow grilled peppers and earthy black beans. If you throw some spicy peppers or salsa on top of the stuffed poblanos, the Dos Equis will soothe the heat. Otherwise it’s just light and thirst-quenching for what is a fairly dense dish.