At Oakland’s Doña Tomás, a stylish bastion for upscale Mexican fare (Oakland is ahead of the curve in this category), authentic chiles rellenos steal the show. Inspired by the traditional dish from Mexico City, chef Thomas Schnetz adds a healthy twist by serving the goat cheese-and-spinach-stuffed chiles baked, on a bed of creamy cauliflower sauce, with a drizzle of crema and a bright garnish of pomegranate seeds. Enjoy them solo or, as Schnetz recommends, with corn tortillas and black beans for a hearty, soul-warming meal.
Chiles Rellenos with Cauliflower Sauce
CREAMY CAULIFLOWER SAUCE
1 cauliflower chopped
1 white onion peeled and sliced
1T canola oil
2 cups vegetable stock
8 large fresh poblano chiles, toasted, seeded, and peeled
2T canola oil
1 white onion diced
2 cups packed baby spinach
1/4 cups pine nuts toasted
1/2 cups chopped almonds toasted
1/2 cup raisins
8 oz grated jack cheese
8 oz grated mozzarella
6 oz goat cheese broken up in small pieces
1/2 bunch chopped marjoram
1/3 cup crema or sour cream, for serving
Seeds of half a pomegranate for garnish.
To prepare the chiles, heat griddle or cast iron skillet over high heat and brush with a little oil. Decrease heat to medium and place chiles on hot surface. Slowly toast the chiles, turning them every few minutes as the skin continues to blacken. Continue to brush with oil. The entire cooking process for the chiles should take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes.
After the skins have been blackened, place the chiles in a paper or plastic bag for about 20 minutes; the steam will encourage the skins to pull away. Remove the chiles from the bag, and gently peel off the skin, trying to keep the chile intact. To remove seeds, cut a slit in the side with a paring knife and gently cut out the seedpod near the stem end.
To prepare the sauce, add oil and butter in a stainless steel pot over a high flame. When butter is melted add onions and cook for five minutes. Add chopped cauliflower and stir for 2 minutes. Add stock, continue stirring and cook until cauliflower is soft. Take off heat and purée until a smooth consistency. Add salt to taste.
To prepare filling, place large skillet over high heat and add oil. When oil is hot, add the onion and sauté for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to medium-high, season with salt, and continue to sauté for about 4 minutes, or until translucent. Remove from heat. Place in large bowl. Add spinach while onions are still warm. Add nuts and raisins. When cool, add the cheeses and marjoram and mix together.
Make a slit lengthwise in the chile. Stuff the chiles with the filling, being careful not to overfill and tear the pockets or leave the chiles too empty, which will cause them to collapse.
Preheat oven to 350. Place rellenos on a sheet tray with the slits facing up. Cover with aluminum. Bake for about 20 minutes until filling is hot all the way through.
To serve, line a platter or plates with the warmed cauliflower sauce. Top with the rellenos. Drizzle with crema and scatter pomegranate seeds over.