Chili Relleno Casserole

posted in: Main Dishes, Recipes, TexMex | 9
Have you tried Daiya cheese yet? It’s every bit as good as you’ve heard it is. I put it to the ultimate test: grilled cheese sandwiches. They were amazing. It melts almost as fast as dairy cheese, and melts completely. It even gets stringy. The cheddar style doesn’t taste exactly like cheddar. The best way I can describe it is extra tangy processed cheese, like super-flavorful Velveeta. You need to use it up within a week of opening the package, but you can freeze it for a few months without a change in texture.I also picked up some Follow Your Heart mozzarella style, as I suspect that’s what I had and liked at Native Foods in Santa Monica a couple of months ago. This has a slightly crunchy taste when it’s cold, so you’d definitely know it wasn’t dairy cheese, but that all changes when you heat it up. Once hot, it’s soft and melty. It has a very mild flavor, indistinguishable from mozzarella-style processed dairy cheese. I don’t think it would be as good on a grilled cheese sandwich as the Daiya, but it would be the one I’d choose for a pizza, or anything with other ingredients besides bread, when you wanted something mild.These are the first vegan cheeses that I’ve liked and that I can imagine buying again (aside from Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese, which has limited uses.) The others I’ve tried have been sour and weird. These are the first vegan cheeses that I’d consider serving to omnivores.

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.

This goes out to Cooking with Seeds, created by Priya of Priya’s Easy N Tasty Recipes, hosted this month by Padma’s Recipes, and focusing on pepper.

Poblanos being roasted.
Roasty toasty poblanos.
Chili Relleno Casserole

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 generous servings

Serving Size: 1 4 x 4-inch piece

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.


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9 Responses

  1. Are you kidding me?? This recipe looks so amazing1! I love Daiya, and I also love Native Foods! My favorite vegan restaurant!!

  2. Oh my goodness!! This looks insanely delicious!!

    (P.S. I love Daiya too!)

  3. i discovered daiya a couple of months ago and became addicted.

    (p.s. i really DO love your recipes and thank you for sharing them)

  4. I just made this today! It was delicious. My whole family, including kids (age 3,6,and 8), loved it. I used the Daiya Jack style cheese. We got the chilies from the farmer’s market a few days ago and this was the perfect way to eat them. :)

    • Thanks for letting me know you liked it, Marcella! And I’m impressed that your kids liked the chilies.

  5. I just made this last night with a few variations. I added a couple tablespoons of nutritional yeast an an extra table of oil to the batter and used juice from canned tomatoes instead of water. I added a can of black beans and a can of fire roasted tomatoes with garlic on top of the peppers layer. I only had Go Veggie Mexican style grated vegan chees and it was perfect.
    I substituted cumin for turmeric. No offense to the original recipe just wanted to “beef” it up a bit. It baked and served beautifully and was delicious. Thanks for the head start.

  6. I made this tonight and everyone loved it, even my daughters omni boyfriend. My lovely friend, you create the tastiest recipes!

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