It happened. The first email in my 2019 in-box to feature a pitch for a pumpkin product.
It was for SPAM Pumpkin Spice, which was weird (and maybe not real?), but another quickly followed: an email from Dandies marshmallows about Halloween treats using their pumpkin flavor.
We are here. Let’s embrace it. In a matter of minutes, it will be Christmas.
This week’s recipe intentionally steers in a more autumnal direction, but it’s still a rather savory dish.
It started when I spotted poblano peppers at the store, the oblong green vegetable like a zestier cousin to the bell pepper. They’re my preferred pepper for making stuffed peppers, a reliable standby when I’m trying to lay off the starchy carbs for a bit.
With those poblanos in hand, the rest of the dish came immediately to mind: Stuff them with ground beef and beans, drown them in a chipotle sauce bolstered by canned pumpkin, then bake them like enchiladas.
The first time I made these, I didn’t have chipotle chiles on hand, but I did have a jar of pimentos left over from another recipe a month ago. The diced sweet red peppers are more flavorful than a standard bell pepper, but not quite as smoky and deep as a chipotle. They worked just fine to help create the sauce; chipotles add even more to the dish.
I love using canned pumpkin to create thick sauces like this, because the flavor is relatively mild but the texture is perfect. It’s loaded with vitamins, and when paired with tomatoes and peppers, forms the base for a gorgeous, veggie-laden sauce.
Instead of baking the peppers first, then stuffing them, then baking again, you can get away with just cooking the poblanos once with the filling inside. They’re not quite as thick as bell peppers. Slathering them with this sauce and cooking them in a baking dish keeps them from drying out.
This is a new go-to in our house for dinner. An easy, low-carb dish that holds up really well as leftovers? I mean, it’s no SPAM Pumpkin Spice, but it’ll do.
Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Pumpkin Chipotle Sauce
2 large poblano peppers
1 pound ground beef, or ground turkey
Freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ jalapeno pepper, finely diced
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth, more as needed
½ cup roughly chopped grape tomatoes
¼ cup chopped chipotle chiles in adobo
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted
Fresh cilantro, roughly chopped, for serving
Greek yogurt or sour cream, for serving
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Wash poblano peppers then cut in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and ribs from the inside, and set peppers in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish.
Cook ground beef or turkey in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper and cook until browned all the way through, breaking up with a spoon as you cook. When cooked, remove meat from skillet using a slotted spoon, place in a bowl and set aside.
To the skillet with the oil left from the beef, add onion, garlic and jalapeno. Season with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and cook for at least 5 minutes, until very fragrant and onion has softened slightly.
Add beans, stirring to combine, and mash beans down a little bit as you stir. Add ground beef back to skillet, plus ¼ cup of pumpkin puree and ¼ cup of the broth. Stir well to combine, let cook for about 3 minutes, then remove skillet from heat.
Divide filling among poblano peppers in dish. If you have extra filling, just place it around the peppers. Set aside while you make the sauce.
Wipe out skillet and place it back over medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and the tomatoes. Cook until they are starting to release some of their juices, about 5 minutes. Add chipotle chiles, cook for 5 minutes, then add cinnamon, paprika, cayenne and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well to combine. Add the remaining ¾ cup pumpkin puree and stir to incorporate. Bring to a low boil, then slowly stir in the remaining ¾ cup chicken broth. Whisk to create a thick sauce, adding more broth or water as needed. Taste sauce and adjust seasonings as needed; you’ll probably need more salt.
Pour sauce over the poblano peppers in the dish, making sure all of the peppers are thoroughly coated with the sauce. Sprinkle desired amount of cheese over the peppers. Bake until peppers are soft and cheese is melted, at least 20 minutes.
Remove peppers from oven and sprinkle toasted almonds on top. Serve with cilantro and yogurt or sour cream.
Serves 2 to 4.
Source: Michelle Stark, Tampa Bay Times