It's Meatless Monday. Craving something extra-cheesy? Have we got fun ideas for you.
Tagliolini al limone: We loved the wonderful simplicity of this dish: Fresh basil and a touch of lemon are infused with a little heavy cream, which is cooked down just until it thickens and is poured over pasta. Topped with fresh-grated Parmesan and fresh-cracked pepper, it makes for a remarkably easy but elegant meal.
Cheesy spinach mac: Cheese, more cheese, mushrooms, spinach, panko crumbs and truffle oil. It's the way the Beachcomber does mac 'n' cheese.
El Cholo's chiles rellenos: These chiles rellenos, from one of Los Angeles' most venerable Mexican restaurants, have an avid following all their own. The trick with that extra-fluffy coating lies in El Cholo's method: A little of the whipped egg batter is fried on its own until set, then a stuffed chile is gently laid over; more batter is spooned over the chile, then it is flipped and fried to golden perfection. Drizzle a spoonful of the rich and slightly tangy relleno sauce over the top to complete this signature dish. You can find the recipe below.
EL CHOLO'S CHILES RELLENOS
Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Note: Adapted from El Cholo
1 tablespoon oil
3 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1/2 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
2 whole canned green chiles, diced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 bay leaves
1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil. Stir in the garlic, oregano, onion, vinegar, bell pepper, tomatoes (and their juice), chiles and broth. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes, then stir in the black pepper, bay leaves and salt to taste.
2. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have softened and the tomatoes start to break apart, about 25 minutes.
3. Remove from heat, discard the bay leaves, and mash the tomatoes with a potato masher or whisk until you have a coarse sauce. Season again to taste. Set aside in a warm place.
3/4 pound grated cheddar cheese
6 whole canned green chiles
6 eggs, separated
1. Divide the cheese into 6 mounds and roll each mound into a football-shaped ball with your hands. Slit each chile lengthwise halfway and gently stuff a ball of cheese into each. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, 4 to 6 minutes. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks until frothy. Gently fold the yolks into the whites to complete your egg batter.
3. In a large skillet or frying pan, add enough oil to come up the sides by one-half inch. Heat the oil until a thermometer inserted reads 350 degrees.
4. Gently spoon a little egg batter into the pan, spreading it so it is roughly the dimensions of one side of a stuffed chile. As soon as the batter begins to set, 1 to 2 minutes, lay a chile over the top, then spread an equivalent amount of batter over the chile.
5. Turn over the chile relleno and fry an additional 1 to 2 minutes until golden on all sides. Remove the chile relleno with a slotted spatula or spoon, and place on a warm plate. Repeat until you have 6 chiles rellenos.
6. Spoon one-half cup sauce over each chile relleno and serve immediately.
Each serving: 483 calories; 22 grams protein; 10 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 40 grams fat; 15 grams saturated fat; 271 mg. cholesterol; 672 mg. sodium.