Jalapeño Poppers, Again.
It seems like at some point in every summer, I get stuck with a bucketful of jalapeños that I don’t feel like cooking. I mean, I could always make salsa, but I’m a little tired of salsa. Yes, you can throw them into anything that needs a little spice, but that only takes care of 2 or 3 at a time! Thus, I always end up making jalapeño poppers. It gets rid of the whole batch in one fell swoop. Well, one incredibly tedious and time-consuming swoop. The first time I made them (middle-ish of the page), I filled them with some sort of noochy cheese sauce and then beer battered and deep-fried them. The next time, I wanted to make them healthier, plus I don’t own a deep fryer anymore, plus frying things is terrifying and I generally seem to just smoke up the house and set off smoke detectors and it’s just not worth it. Anyway, I decided to bake them (end of the page), but still wanted the crunch, so I crusted them in panko. Those were filled with Tofutti cream cheese and Daiya cheddar, and they were mighty delicious, and froze well.
This time around, I could not be bothered to fry or batter. That whole breading thing takes forever and a day, and after you’ve just seeded 2 dozen or more jalapeños and stuffed them with a creamy spread…you just want to forget about them! I mean, eat them! So, whatever. These are as far from a traditional popper as you can get, but I don’t care. They were scrumptious. Filled with a creamy, noochy stuffing, they were a perfect snack! Because they were über spicy (like…crazy hot, end of summer pepper business), they were more filling (right? spicy foods fill you up faster?). I was hoping that the stuffing would cool them down a bit, but it didn’t. Oh well. Also, the boyfriend said these were the best jalapeño poppers he’s ever had, so I suppose that’s saying something.
If you’re a complete crazy person like me, feel free to make them pretty by slicing up tiny cherry tomatoes and putting a teensy slice on each popper. If you’re not a maniac, then don’t. See if I care.
Baked Jalapeño Poppers
1 million jalapeños, or a couple dozen, or however many you have (the stuffing filled 24ish peppers)
14 oz extra firm tofu
1/2 cup cashews (I used roasted and salted, but rinsed them. Use raw if you’re a purist.)
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
juice of 2 limes
1 tsp salt, or more to taste
sliced cherry tomatoes, optional, for lunatics only
Crumble the tofu into a food processor (squeeze out as much liquid as you can, but you don’t have to press it), and then add the rest of the ingredients (except jalapeños). Process until completely smooth, stopping once in a while to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. When you like the consistency, taste for salt, spices, and lime juice. Set aside to let the flavors mingle while you prep the peppers.
To prep the peppers, I highly recommend that you wear gloves. I did, and then when I took out my contacts later that evening, my eyeballs didn’t feel like they were on fire. Listen, the juices from the peppers gets under your nails, and even though you wash your hands a bunch, it’s still there, just waiting to burn your eyes, a kitty’s nose, or your nether regions. Lecture over, but just sayin’.
Anyway, cut them all in half and scrape out the seeds and ribs. Arrange them on a non-stick baking sheet (or spray with oil, or use parchment paper) and preheat your oven to 350˚F to get your oven good and hot while you stuff the peppers. Using a spoon (and still wearing your gloves!), fill each half to the top. You can even mound it up if there is extra left over. Leave them cut side up (oh, top with tiny tomato slices, if you’re feeling unbalanced), and bake for 35 minutes, or until the peppers appear soft and wrinkly, and the spread is nicely browned. Let cool a bit before eating. These store well in the fridge for up to a week!
The tofu cashew cream is so smooth, and nicely spiced with a Latin twist, thanks to the cumin and lime. The smoked paprika adds just enough of a husky, smoldering undertone that compliments the flavor of the jalapeño. Good luck only eating a few!
I actually had to stop munching on these because they were so fiery that they caused…digestive…troubles… But they were great for sharing and it’s really unlikely that all of the jalapeños you get will be as spicy as mine were. These were easily the hottest ones I’ve ever had my (gloved) hands on.
Local: jalapeños, cherry tomatoes
Also! Since these are a healthy snack, I’m participating in something new (for me): Wellness Weekend, hosted by Ricki of Diet, Dessert, and Dogs. Stop over there and check out lots of healthy, whole foods recipes for your beginning of September!