I am a self-professed "food pusher"
by Chef Deb Traylor
Early in my career, I used to volunteer at my local farmer’s market in Longmont, Colorado. Every Saturday, I would walk up and down the market culling produce from our farmers, then I'd go back to my little tent and create something to offer market shoppers. At first, it was hard to convince the attendees that I wasn't trying to sell anything, rather simply offering ideas and suggestions on how to prepare the market's seasonal offerings.
In order to get people to try something they had never seen before I started saying, “This is guilt-free sampling folks, I’m not selling a thing!” Big smile, “I'm the farmer’s market 'food pusher'!”
THIS is where I got them! Most of the time I could reel them in and this led to conversations about recipes and all the good things available at the market. It was so much fun! Free food samples, an eager new chef and tons of incredible produce. I had a new calling.
I still see myself as a food pusher. It makes me happy to introduce people to new produce, or a technique, or a recipe they may not have seen before. I feel the biggest part of being a chef isn’t getting people to like me as a cook, but rather getting them to trust me when I ask them to taste something new, like sweet potato leaves (they're similar to spinach) or a radish seed pod (looks like edamame but tastes like radish). If I can gain that little bit of trust, then they will keep coming back looking for another delicious fix.
Today’s recipe is a favorite from those farmer's market days and something I recently prepared for one of our friend's book club meeting. What I love about this recipe is that it’s light, you can serve it warm or at room temperature and it’s absolutely gorgeous!
Quinoa Stuffed Poblano Peppers
- 4 poblano peppers, roasted and skins removed
- 1/4 cup balsamic reduction, see recipe below
- 1/4 cup cumin lime crema, see recipe below
- 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, salted
- 1 cup chopped kale
- 1 green onion, green and white part sliced
- 3 large radishes, diced
- 2 Tbsp. cilantro, plus extra garnish
- 2-3 oz. crumbled feta (or goat) cheese, divided
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pine nuts
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries
Cumin Lime Crema
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 Tbsp. milk
- 2 tsp. lime juice
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp. salt
Whisk together all ingredients and let rest at room temp for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to develop.
Pour 1 cup balsamic vinegar into an 8” skillet and turn heat to low to a low medium (make sure you have plenty of ventilation). Simmer until liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup, about 10-15 minutes. Cool completely.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roast and peel peppers. Prepare balsamic reduction and cumin lime crema.
Cut a slit down the center of each roasted poblano, removing as many seeds as possible (you don’t have to remove them all). Set aside.
In a small sauté pan, sauté kale in a little olive oil and a sprinkle of water until tender, about 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, mix quinoa, sautéed kale, green onions, radishes, cilantro, 2 oz. of the feta or goat cheese, lime juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.
Fill each pepper with 1/4 - 1/3 cup quinoa mixture and set on an oiled sheet pan or small casserole pan. Tent pan with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, just long enough to warm through.
To serve, place one pepper on each plate, top remaining feta and drizzle with crema and balsamic reduction. Top with chopped nuts, cilantro and pomegranate seeds. Season with a small pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Serves 4.
- If you have a question about roasting chiles, YouTube has great videos on how to roast and skin peppers on a gas stove or grill or under a broiler.
- When making quinoa, I use 1/8 cup LESS water than stated on the directions (example 1 cup quinoa with 1-7/8 cup water). I like a firmer grain that does not collapse or clump.
- If you ever have extra quinoa, simply bake on a sheet pan in the oven at 325 degrees until dried and crunchy. It might take anywhere from 15-25 minutes depending on how dry your quinoa was to begin with. I use these little nuggets as toppings for salad, or to garnish these stuffed peppers.
- This recipe is nice served warm or at room temperature and it's easily doubled or tripled.