At the start of the 4th of July weekend, I stopped by a fresh fruit and vegetable stand and became enamored with an absolutely gorgeous display of banana peppers.
As Wikipedia tells us:
The banana pepper (also known as the yellow wax pepper or banana chili) is a member of the chili pepper family. It is often pickled and used as an ingredient in sandwiches. It is a variety of the species Capsicum annuum. Its shape and color resembles a banana. Its flavor is not very hot (0–500 Scoville units), and as is the case with most peppers, its hotness depends on the maturity of the pepper, with the most ripe being sweeter than younger ones.
Banana peppers are not the same as peperoncini (which some erroneously refer to as banana peppers).
Banana peppers are typically yellow, but can also be orange or red.
Heretofore, I’d only eaten pickled banana peppers in salads and sandwiches, and so I was intrigued with coming up with other uses for it.
Hubby and I were grilling steaks that night, and at my mom’s suggestion, we grilled a couple of banana peppers, as well. They were utterly delicious — like a green bell pepper but with a sassy attitude 🙂 — and complemented the steak perfectly. (They also complemented the grilled Cornish hens we had the other night, too!)
I was smitten. 🙂
I Googled recipes and solicited opinions from friends for suggested ways of preparing these gorgeous, sassy little yellow peppers and was rewarded with a wealth of yummy ideas.
Mulling it over with my hubby, I decided to do a TexMex take with the peppers by filling them with cheese and baking them in an enchilada sauce — rather like an enchilada, but with the filling encased in a low calorie, low-carb banana pepper instead of a corn or flour tortilla. I rounded the meal out with some refried beans and my easy Spanish Rice.
All I can say is…
Seriously. It was YUMMY! Like a cross between a cheese enchilada and a cheese-filled chili relleno.
Because it’s been hot, I baked it at a lower temperature — 325F — for a longer period of time (about an hour). One could also bake it at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time.
I filled 8 banana peppers. I could have fit 10 into my pan by running two horizontally along the bottom of the pan — there certainly was enough enchilada sauce for two more peppers.
I used reduced-fat cheddar cheese and Monterrey Jack cheese, but you can use other combinations — whatever seems pleasing to your TexMex palate and what is in your ‘fridge.
IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTICE: Whenever you’re working with hot peppers, such as jalapeños (or even a milder pepper, such as a banana pepper), it is VERY IMPORTANT that you wear gloves while handling the peppers, as the capsaicin oils in the peppers could irritate your skin to the point of blistering it. I always wear disposable gloves so I can just toss them out when done. It is also VERY IMPORTANT not to touch your face, most especially your eyes, while handling peppers. Once you’re done handling the peppers, carefully remove the gloves (I always peel them off so that they’re coming off “inside out” to help avoid the risk of accidentally coming into contact with those concentrated pepper oils) and discard them, and then carefully disinfect the area where you were working with the peppers.
And remember — grate your own cheese! It tastes better and will have a better texture.
Cheesy Stuffed Banana Peppers, TexMex Style
- 2 1/2 cups or so of your favorite red enchilada sauce (sometimes I used tinned sauce, often I make it up from an enchilada sauce seasoning packet)
- 8 to 10 banana peppers
- 3 cups (12 ounces) grated cheese (I used 2 cups reduced-fat cheddar cheese and 1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, but any combination pleasing to your TexMex palate will work)
- Sliced black olives
- Finely diced onion (about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup)
- Wearing disposable rubber gloves, remove stems from peppers. Carefully slice pepper lengthwise — but NOT in half! — and remove seeds.
- Fill each pepper with 3/4 to 1 ounce of shredded cheese, a bit of onion, and some sliced black olives (I tucked the olives down into the sides of the peppers).
- Spray with cooking spray or lightly oil an 11″X7″ pan.
- Spread a small amount (about 1/2 cup or so) of enchilada sauce along the bottom of the pan.
- Place filled peppers in the pan (I alternated the placement of the larger and smaller ends of the peppers so they would fit more uniformly in the pan).
- Cover with remaining enchilada sauce. Sprinkle with another 3/4 to 1 cup of shredded cheese (I used the Monterrey Jack for this).
- Bake, covered, at 325F for about an hour. Remove cover last 20 minutes of baking.
- Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
Seriously, this is so yummy, you’ll be wanting them at 10, 2, and 4 😉
I’m going to have a lot of fun experimenting with these delicious peppers. 🙂