There are a few recipes that I’ve been wanting to veganize for years, but I couldn’t imagine making them without cheese. Such is Chili Relleno Casserole, normally made with gobs of cheese and eggs. A vegan version of this wouldn’t be possible without Daiya or Follow Your Heart cheese. Another essential ingredient here is white pepper. White pepper is warmer and less spicy than black pepper, and adds a touch of umami to the tofu batter.
This was extremely rich and I thought it could have used less cheese, but Jim was just crazy about it. I’m going to try it next time with about half the cheese and some potato and if it’s a good alternative, I’ll report back.
UPDATE: Please see the bottom of the recipe for a lighter, less expensive variation.
- 1 pound poblano peppers (about 4)
- 14 ounce carton medium-firm or firm, water-pack tofu, drained
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white wine or water
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons corn meal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 6 to 8 ounces Daiya cheese*
Preheat broiler to high. Put the top oven rack a few inches below the elements. Place a large pan on the rack below to catch any drips. Place peppers directly on the top rack. Broil until blistered and black. Turn to blister all sides. Remove peppers from the oven and wrap loosely in waxed paper (or put in a paper bag.) Allow to cool. The steam from the peppers will loosen the skin. When peppers are cool, peel the skin and cut away the stems. Slit peppers lengthwise, remove the seeds, and open up the peppers until they're flat.
Puree tofu, water and olive oil in a food processor or blender. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in flour, corn meal, baking powder, salt, turmeric, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Oil an 8 x 8-inch pan. Spread about half the tofu batter in the pan. Top with half the cheese. Top with half the peppers, then remaining cheese and remaining peppers. Finish with the last of the batter. Bake until the batter is set and the top is lightly golden.
*I made this with about 6 1/2 ounces Daiya cheddar style and 1 1/2 ounces Follow Your Heart mozzarella style - what I had on hand.
Variation: For a lighter version of this, use 4 ounces of Daiya and replace the rest with some potato. Start with a medium potato, about 6 ounces, any variety. Peel and grate the potato and sauté in a bit of oil until tender. Then add the potato to the cheese layer.