Easy Chile Relleno Dip
This hot, spicy, cheesy vegetarian dip has the flavor of a cheese-stuffed chile pepper similar to a jalapeño popper without all the fuss (or the jalapeños). Salsa verde provides the heat in a smooth dip great for parties and game day snacking.
I know I'm supposed to be all "eat healthier in the New Year" but the fact is that New Year's Resolutions, made during the post holiday let down while you're hungover from too much akavit, don't stick.
Small changes do stick. (Here's a link to how I increased the number of servings of fruits and vegetables over the course of my deployment. Here's another link to tips for increasing the amount of vegetables throughout your day.)
My small change for today is to offer a vegetarian alternative for your game day snack spread, evening cocktail party, or Cinco de Mayo fiesta. While this recipe may not qualify as healthy, my grandmas--born around the turn of the previous century--would recognize the ingredients used to make it.
I tried my first Chile Relleno in Cody, Wyoming over the summer vacation. A roasted Hatch chile stuffed with Monterey Jack cheese, dipped in an egg batter, fried, then covered in a sauce made from more roasted chiles. And more cheese. I've ordered that dish twice more since we came home, made the flavor combo into a pizza even, but didn't think about making it into a dip until I spied twin warming trays at a holiday party. Little signs labelled one tray Buffalo Chicken Dip and the other Jalapeño Popper Dip.
It was like dueling hot spicy cheesy dips--one for omnivores, one friendly to vegetarians. What a brilliant idea.
For more awesome veggie apps and snacks, please see my Pinterest board. For more game day snacks, just use the search bar on the sidebar to search for 'game day snacks'. For more recipes using Hatch chiles, please see my Hatch Chile Recipes Collection. For more recipes using tomatillos, please see my Tomatillo Recipe Collection. These are part of the Visual Recipe Index by Ingredient, a resource for folks trying to support their local producers by sourcing winter game day snacks out of produce grown locally during the summer.
I emailed the hostess asking for the recipe and googled Jalapeño Popper Dip on my phone in the car before I even started for home. All of the top recipes had several things in common--a can of green chiles, a can of chopped jalapeños, cream cheese and shredded cheeses. I figured that my jars of salsa verde would make an easy (and convenient) substitute for those cans--and a smoother dip for scooping. The inspiring dip recipe is here. Instead of 9 ingredients I cut it down to 6 and dropped out some of the fat as well.
The texture of hot gooey cheese and flavorful heat from a roasted chile is an irresistible one. For me, that's a chile relleno, though I understand other folks would call it a jalapeño popper based on their eating experiences. No matter what name, your 'melted gooey cheese + flavorful heat' goes by, this recipe is an easy way to get it.
Do you have to make your own salsa verde to make this dip? Heck no! I like to eat local grown all year round, so when Hatch chile season rolls around, in August, and my local grocery store fires up the chile roaster and sells me quarts of roasted Hatch chiles, I stock up. I make salsa verde using tomatillos and/or green tomatoes, can it, and enjoy it for the rest of the year. I'd usually say that I get my tomatillos in my Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share, but that was not the case for this particular batch. It took me 2 weekends at 2 different farmer's markets to amass enough tomatillos to make my salsa verde. Eating locally sometimes means you need to be intrepid.
Easy Chile Relleno Dip (serves 6-8 in an appetizer spread)
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup salsa verde
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1+½ cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- ¼ to ⅓ cup panko bread crumbs (or keep it GF by using the crumbs in the bottom of the tortilla chip bag)
- ½ cup shredded Colby jack cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Pick your appliance--a hand mixer, a stand mixer, a food processor or an energetic kid with a wooden spoon would all work.
- In a medium bowl beat the cream cheese until it's smooth and fluffy, then beat in the salsa verde and mayonnaise. Stir in the Monterey Jack cheese.
- Transfer to a small shallow pan. Top with panko or tortilla crumbs. Scatter Colby jack cheese over top.
- Bake for 20 minutes (longer if your pan is deeper) until top is lightly browned. Serve warm with tortilla chips, pepper strips, or cauliflower to dunk.
|Behind the scenes--my hand model and the scavengers waiting for crumbs.|
Do you fall into the Pinterest rabbit hole and lose hours? Here's a Pinterest-worthy collage for you.