Jalapeño poppers on a food blog that attempts to be relatively healthy? Really? Yes. These are crunchy, spicy (of course!), but get a cool down from the creamy, oozey bean-and-cheese filling. While I must admit I have not – and never would – eat poppers in a restaurant, we think these are great with any TexMex dinner and a hit at parties. Truth be told, I could make a meal of these vegetarian bites of heaven. Note – the spiciness varies widely with the peppers. Jalapeños are not created equal.
12-18 whole fresh jalapeños ***Wear gloves while handling jalapeños. Ask Craig....he has a pepper tale of woe***
1 C nonfat refried beans (a great use for leftover Rick Bayless Charro Beans!)
1 C shredded Monterey Jack or extra-sharp Cheddar cheese – less is fine
1 scallion, sliced
1 t salt, divided
1/4 C flour – I use white whole wheat but all purpose would work
2 large eggs
1/2 C fine cornmeal
Olive oil or canola oil cooking spray
Make a small slit on one side of each pepper. Place the peppers in a large microwave-safe dish. Cover and microwave on high until just softened, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine refried beans, cheese, scallion and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate the filling. (These can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated at this point.)
When the peppers are cool enough to handle, scrape out the seeds with a small spoon (a 1/4-teaspoon measuring spoon works well). Fill each pepper with about 1 tablespoon of the bean filling, or until the pepper is full but not overstuffed (the amount will depend on the size of the pepper). Close the pepper around the filling.
Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
Place flour in a shallow dish. Lightly beat eggs in another shallow dish. Combine cornmeal and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a third shallow dish. Roll each stuffed pepper in flour, shaking off any excess. Dip in egg and let any excess drip off. Then roll in the cornmeal mixture. Place the peppers on the prepared baking sheet. Generously coat all sides of each pepper with cooking spray.
Bake for 5 minutes. Turn each pepper over and continue baking until hot and the filling starts to ooze in a few spots, about 5 minutes more.