Summer Poblano Peppers with Crunchy Cauliflower Salad and Wild Herb Mole
Poblano peppers have a mild and grassy flavour, they are grown in the UK but the season is short. If you can’t get hold of fresh, try tinned poblanos or fresh sweet Romanos. This is an impressive-looking dish to give to friends and yet is simple to make. The herb-flecked, crunchy salad provides lovely bursts of flavour against the mellow, creamy mole.
Prep time: 15 mins + 1 hour soaking
Cook time: 30 mins
Photography: Tara Fisher
Food Styling: Kitty Coles & El Kemp
75g red quinoa, rinsed
4 large poblano peppers (or sweet Romano red)
65g flaked (slivered) almonds
25g sesame seeds
½ red onion, finely chopped
50g currants or raisins
2 tbsp good cider vinegar
1 medium head of cauliflower, leaves and core discarded
½ bunch of coriander, leaves roughly chopped, stalks finely chopped
½ bunch of parsley, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
juice of 2 limes
4–5 tbsp good olive oil
salt and pepper
For the cashew nut mole
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 green chilli, de-seeded
big handful each of mint and
½ tsp salt
Finely chopped red onion
Chopped fresh herbs
Soak the cashews in 180ml water for at least 1 hour to ensure a beautifully smooth, enviably silky mole, adding a few handfuls of coriander and a large handful of tarragon leaves. Once the cashews have soaked for their hour, put them in a blender with their soaking liquid, lime juice, vinegar, chilli, herbs and the salt. Blitz until you have a bright, lovely smooth purée. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and vinegar. Transfer to a pan and warm gently – if you overheat this sauce it will lose its arresting emerald-green colour.
Put the quinoa in a small pan, cover with water and season with salt. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15–20 minutes until the grains have unfurled but have a bite. Drain through a sieve and steam dry.
Cook the peppers under a hot grill (broiler) or over a gas flame using tongs, turning regularly until charred all over and the flesh is soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover tightly and leave to steam. Meanwhile, place a dry pan over a medium heat and toast the almonds until pale golden all over. Repeat with the sesame seeds, reserving a bit of both.
Cover the red onion and currants with the vinegar and set aside. Using a mandolin or sharp knife, shave the cauliflower into thin slivers. Empty into a mixing bowl and toss with the quinoa, almonds and sesame seeds, herbs, onion, currants, carrot, lime juice and oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Scrape off the skins of the peppers, using a damp, clean cloth. Slice down one side to open out and remove the seeds, then fill with salad.
Spoon the warm mole onto warm plates and top with the peppers. Scatter with the reserved
almonds, sesame seeds, red onion, a final flourish of green herbs and serve at once.
In her years of living in and exploring Mexico, Thomasina Miers came to learn that the country is megadiverse, with an incredible diversity of fruit and vegetables. This book is her homage to vegetarian Mexican cooking, fusing the flavours of Mexico with British seasonal ingredients, every dish is delicious, colourful and vibrant. Photography by Tara Fisher.