Chiles rellenos are my favorite Mexican dish EVER. In the past, if I saw them on the menu, I immediately stopped reading and asked for the waiter to come and take my order so that they could be made as soon as possible. However, traditional chiles rellenos are muy fattening, being loaded with cheese and then dipped in batter and deep fried to give them a yummy, crispy crust. So, as much as I love them, they’re not on my approved list of foods any more, at least not if I want to maintain my weight loss.
But I have been thinking about chiles rellenos for the past few weeks, and then remembered this recipe I used to make from Sunset Magazine’s Favorite Recipes I. It’s been a few years since I’ve prepared this casserole, but I thought it would work well as well for a Sunday morning breakfast dish as it does for a main dish. While it has all the flavors of traditional chiles rellenos, this very simple dish is more like a souffle. Not only is it much lighter than the fried variety, it’s much easier and faster to prepare too.
When I used to teach ESL, I learned from my Mexican students that chiles rellenos don’t have to be stuffed with cheese. Depending on where you are from in Mexico, chiles rellenos can be filled with seafood, meat or even other vegetables. Chiles rellenos are traditionally served with a tomato sauce, but a traditional (not chunky) salsa can be substituted, or a mild enchilada sauce (green or red).
I served our chiles rellenos casserole with warm tortillas, but think it would also go well with cornbread or corn muffins.
BAKED CHILES RELLENOS
6 eggs, separated
1 TBSP flour
1/4 tsp each salt & pepper
2 7-oz. cans whole roasted green chiles
1/2 pound reduced-fat mild Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, sliced or grated
Preheat oven to 325°. Beat egg whites until stiff; mix flour, salt and pepper with egg yolks. Fold egg whites into the yolk mixture and pour half the egg mixture into a well-greased 9″ x 13″ baking dish.
Slit each chile lengthwise down one side and lay them flat over the egg batter. Cover the chiles with the cheese, and then cover with the remaining egg mixture. Bake for 25 minutes or until puffy and lightly browned. Cut into 8 pieces and serve with spicy tomato sauce, salsa or enchilada sauce.
(You can add a layer of cheese on top before you bake the casserole, like in the picture, but it’s not necessary.)