Chile Rellenos with roasted green wheat

I love Mexican cuisine. I can enjoy it in Texas of course, but also in Lebanon where  I had an outstanding Mexican five-course meal in Deir EL-Kamar one summer, during a gala event; a Mexican chef had been flown in especially for the occasion and created an amazing spread of chile rellenos, mole, ceviches, etc.

I grabbed a few poblano peppers at the farmer’s market and my mind was set: I was going to make chile rellenos, Lebanese-style of course.

The poblanos are peeled and seeded and stuffed with roasted green wheat AKA freekeh; if you don’t know what freekeh is, it is a very old (2 thousand year-old) method of roasting young green wheat; it used to be our main grain in Lebanon as well as Syria, Palestine and Jordan; nowadays, it is a foodie’s dream grain, so nutritious, it blows brown rice et al out of the water! as you cook it, the smokey flavor will waft out of the pot ( reminding  me of being in the fields  with the faint smell of  goat dung); however, when it is cooked, the flavor and texture is so rustic and plain good, you soon become enamored with it; who needs meat when you can eat freekeh instead?

I wanted to use freekeh because I find the traditional picadillo stuffing or cheese stuffing a bit too fatty for my taste. The freekeh is rustic and can easily replace meat; served on the traditional tomato sauce and accompanied by a light and creamy yogurt sauce laced with a mint or cilantro pesto, instead of the Mexican crema. I don’t think my version would offend my Mexican friends!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 poblano chile peppers
  • olive oil, as needed
  • salt, pepper, other spices of your liking (I used Aleppo pepper, a dash of cinnamon, allspice)
  • 1 cup of roasted green wheat or freekeh, rinsed and cleaned thoroughly of all debris
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of assorted nuts, chopped coarsely
  • 8 ounces of low-fat yogurt
  • a pinch of dry mint or a tablespoon of fresh chopped cilantro
  • vegetable oil for frying as needed
  • tomato sauce made with one fried chopped onion, some garlic,  a pound of chopped tomatoes, a dash of thyme (optional), cooked on the stove for 30 minutes then pureed in a blender
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • all-purpose flour as needed (to coat the peppers and to use in the batter)
  • dash of cream of tartar for the egg whites

METHOD:

First step: Cook the roasted green wheat or freekeh

  1. Heat some olive oil in a pot, add the chopped onion and when golden, add the freekeh; stir to moisten all the grains for about 3 minutes and season; add 2 cups of water or stock, cover the pot for about 20 minutes or until small holes appear on the surface; uncover the pot, let some more water evaporate, stir again and set aside, adjusting the seasoning.

Second step: Toast the nuts in a 300F oven till golden; add some raisins if you like. Cool the nuts and mix with freekeh.

Third step: Broil the peppers until the skin is blistered and black all around. Take a plastic bag and pour a couple of tablespoons of oil in it then drop the peppers in the bag; close the bag tightly and cover with a kitchen towel for about 30 minutes. Open the bag and skin the peppers and remove all seeds, trying to keep their shape as much as possible.

Fourth step: Fill the peppers with the freekeh mixture, without getting the peppers too full.

  1. Fifth step: Place the egg yolks and the egg whites in 2 separate bowls; beat the whites  first with a dash of cream of tartar, until they form soft but firm peaks. Now beat the yolks until they get thick and lemon-colored and add to the yolks about 3 tablespoons of flour, mixing the flour in well until the mixture is smooth.
  2. Start adding the whites to the yolks gradually, folding them in with a spatula in an up-and-down motion, gently.
  3. Place a cup of flour in a plate and coat the peppers with the flour all around.
  4. Heat enough oil in a deep skillet to reach up to about one inch; when the oil is very hot (365F) take each pepper and using a spoon to hold it coat it with the batter all around. Drop the pepper in the hot oil turning it around after 3 minutes when it is golden on one side.
  5. Remove the pepper and place on a paper towel; keep in a 225F (warm) oven until ready to serve.

Fifth step:

When ready to serve the chilis, heat the tomato sauce, place the peppers on the sauce; serve with a small bowl of yogurt.

NOTE: You can make a quick mint or cilantro pesto by heating a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a small skillet, adding a tablespoon of dried mint or cilantro, letting sizzle for 30 seconds and swirling it at serving time on the yogurt.

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47 Comments

  1. Posted March 31, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    I had never heard of green wheat, thanks for the info! These look incredibly tasty!

  2. Posted March 31, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Ooooh, I love your Tex-Mex side….these sound scrumptious and poblanos are up there on my fave peppers list.

  3. Posted March 31, 2010 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Oh WOW! Great recipe and gorgeous photos. I would love to sink my teeth into this, though I’ve never tried green wheat before. That first picture is especially beautiful!

  4. Posted March 31, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    WOw Joumana; i have not had a moment for blog checks but i see i have missed much from you; this is gorgeous! really nice flavours! i have all the ingredients -making tomorrow!

  5. Posted March 31, 2010 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    Dear,
    The stuffed poblanos look awesome. Never seen a green wheat before. Learning new things.
    BTW,I have enrolled in Turkish cooking class. Would be learning something relatively similar to lebanese cooking. :). Excited about that.

  6. Posted March 31, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    You are the queen of fusion food! I love how you add Middle Eastern flavors to some of my favorites…especially because Middle Eastern flavors hit the spot for me every time. These look so delicious! Very inventive.

  7. Posted March 31, 2010 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    Chili rellenos are seriously one of my favorites! Yours looks so yummy!

  8. Posted March 31, 2010 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    That filling is so interesting! What a scrumptious looking dish!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  9. Posted March 31, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    Never heard abt green wheat but sounds very interesting,…would love to try it if i find it here…stuffed chillies looks delicious..

  10. Posted March 31, 2010 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    These look absolutely wonderful! I can’t wait to try these.

  11. Posted April 1, 2010 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    Joumana, you are really talented. I am very unadventurous when it comes to cooking.

  12. Posted April 1, 2010 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    Dear Joumana – Relenos is the true test of expertise in the Mexican kitchen and you have not only excelled but you have surpassed all expectations!

    The green wheat reminds me so much of farro which I love. The textures with the smokiness of the chilly with the earthy flavors of the wheat and the smooth batter must be out of the world.

    Once again, you’ve done it again :)

    Ciao, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  13. Posted April 1, 2010 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    this sounds interesting!! Great dish!

  14. Posted April 1, 2010 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    Never heard about green wheat, chile rellenos looks absolutely tempting..

  15. Posted April 1, 2010 at 2:04 am | Permalink

    Hi, Thanks for stopping my blog, I would also like to learn to cook Lebanese cooking, will come back more often to check what you cooking the next.

  16. Posted April 1, 2010 at 2:06 am | Permalink

    It’s no wonder you love Mexican food – it looks delicious. I can imagine this to be packed full of flavour!

  17. Posted April 1, 2010 at 2:45 am | Permalink

    Bonjour,
    Très original ce beignet poivron farci au blé vert. Ca me plaît beaucoup.
    Mais chez moi, on ne trouve pas de blé vert… Domage.
    Une recette très réussie.
    Diane-plop – La Table de Pénélope

  18. Posted April 1, 2010 at 4:14 am | Permalink

    Hmmmm…is that spicy hot stuff over here? :O

  19. Posted April 1, 2010 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    Sounds and looks absolutely delicious! Never had green wheat and it looks like a great change from the meat filling!

    Thank you for the nice comments and the visit to my blog! I’m enjoying yours!

  20. Posted April 1, 2010 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Joumana, Could you please email me at prouditaliancook@hotmail.com I have a question to ask you.
    Thanks.
    Marie

  21. Posted April 1, 2010 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    this looks truly good, just awesome experience of the Mexican! !

  22. Posted April 1, 2010 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    A very unique and interesting dish! First sight I thought it was a meat dish.

  23. Posted April 1, 2010 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Happy Easter Day! I’ve an award for you, please come and pick it up when you’re free.

  24. Posted April 1, 2010 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Une recette comme je les aime. J’ai rencontré plusieurs fois la frické mais encore jamais testée. De plus, ta recette est très originale.
    A bientôt.

  25. Posted April 1, 2010 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    I love your spin on a Mexican classic. I now know about green wheat, Thank You .These look delicious.
    Mimi

  26. Posted April 1, 2010 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Wow, love this version of chili rellenos. I’ll search my specialty grocery for freekeh because I would like to try this.

  27. Posted April 1, 2010 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Never tasted stuffed pablano before, but this is amazing to use Frekheh in the stuffing… Now I am so eager to taste them… Love the Lebanese Tex Mex
    Great Posting…

    I have something for you on my blog…..

  28. Posted April 1, 2010 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    OK, apparently I will have to go on a freekeh hunt in my town. Never ever heard of the stuff but so curious now (except for the dung smell lol). Very creative recipe.

  29. Posted April 1, 2010 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    You’re putting all MY fusion recipes to shame. Man, this takes the cake! so damn awesome…and roasted green wheat! what a unique flavor combination…

  30. Posted April 1, 2010 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    You probably haven’t seen this question, so I’ll paste it again:)
    ‘Hi Joumana, If I understood right, your mother is Croatian?!? Me (partly) to. Govoris li hrvatski? I would be happy seeing you visiting my blog!
    Maja’

    Thanks for your comment on my blog!

  31. Posted April 1, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Une recette vraiment très réussie

  32. Posted April 1, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Mexican is one of the few cuisines that’s really hard to find in Australia (both good and dodgy versions – we don’t even have many bad burrito joints!), I assume because we don’t have a high level of Mexican immigration. As a result, I’ve never come across an opportunity to try chile rellenos… guess I’ll just have to bookmark this page and make it when I get home then! :P

  33. Posted April 1, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Hi Joumana, simply mouth watering. You are an inspiration to me.
    Are you on facebook? I had sent you an invitation recently.

  34. Posted April 1, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Interesting and informative. But will you write about this one more?

  35. Posted April 1, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    That looks amazingly good Joumana! Like all kinds of crunchy and sfot textures in one :D

  36. Posted April 1, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Okay, I’m going to take your word on this one. Sadly, I have never had green wheat before. However, just the sound of your dish makes me feel all earthy inside and, I adore Chile Rellenos. I had them in my hand at the grocery store yesterday, contemplating making them and quite frankly, I chickened out!!! Perhaps, next time. I’ll look for the wheat too.

    Thanks for sharing, Joumana…

  37. Posted April 1, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Chile rellenos are such a tasty dish, and yours look beautiful! I love the freekah stuffing, it makes this dish so nutritious.

  38. Posted April 1, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    Wow, love this! I’ve always been a big fan of Chile Rellenos but all that cheese inside is sometimes a little too much for me. I think the green wheat is just what this dish needed.

  39. Posted April 1, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    This looks fabulous. Everytime I visit your blog I begin a culinary journey. Your stuffed poblano chili peppers a food culture fusion, I love it. I love food that changes and evolves when new ingredients are discovered. Your dish brings together so many flavors and the textures.

  40. Posted April 2, 2010 at 2:41 am | Permalink

    It looks lovely…and you have my nose sniffing upwards with all the mention of smoky flavours. I would love the combination with the chillies…battered….hmmm. Happy Easter

  41. Posted April 3, 2010 at 4:18 am | Permalink

    How utterly unique. And totally mouthwatering. I am sooo impressed. You have a very interesting and enticing blog. thanks for posting this splendid recipe.

  42. Posted April 3, 2010 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    Very innovative recipe! I shall try it sometime :)
    this reminds me of paneer stuffed peppers from home.

  43. Posted April 3, 2010 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Freekeh is new to me! thanks for sharing it’s nutritional benefit. This dish is extremely delicious !
    Thanks for visiting my blog and for your lovely comment. I am having great time visiting yours.

  44. Posted April 4, 2010 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    I have missed perusing your blog! Much catching up to do … this dish is fantastic. I only wish that the Lebanese food I had in Vienna could hold a candle to yours : ( But I guess you have spoiled us all.

  45. Posted April 6, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    These look great! I will definitely try them, though I wonder if I will have trouble finding the roasted green wheat.

  46. Posted May 5, 2010 at 6:59 pm | Permalink
  47. Posted May 8, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

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