Poblano peppers are the perfect way to elevate many of your favorite dishes. They are one of the most well-known and popular chile peppers in the cooking world. These peppers are mild enough to add just a bit of spice to your food, yet they remain extremely flavorful. Whether you are familiar with poblano peppers or not, they offer countless benefits for you, your family, and your friends - so let’s get to know them better!
All About Poblano Peppers
Poblano peppers originated in Puebla, Mexico, and their name derives from the region that they’re harvested in. The peppers are some of the most popular peppers grown in Mexico.
You may notice similarities between poblano peppers and other chili peppers, such as the Anaheim chili peppers. This is because the two are closely related, but they do both have their own unique taste. Like many other peppers, the poblano pepper is a great addition to many different meals.
What Do Poblano Peppers Look Like?
When you’re strolling the aisles of the grocery store, it is essential to be able to identify poblano peppers. Otherwise, you may end up with the wrong ingredient, and your recipe may taste a little off—or worse, you picked up a much spicier pepper, and now you have steam coming out of your ears. Luckily, poblano peppers are pretty easily identifiable.
What Color Are Poblano Peppers?
You can find poblano peppers in all different colors, and the color of poblano peppers corresponds to how ripe the pepper is. Different recipes will likely call for different levels of ripeness.
Poblano peppers are typically either red or green. The difference between the two is that the red poblano peppers are slightly spicier, but the spice level often varies.
Red poblano peppers start as a deep purple and slowly turn red as they mature. Green poblano peppers also begin as immature purple peppers and develop into a purple-green color before ripening. As both the red and green poblano peppers mature, they turn to a darker red color before turning brown and black.
Shape and Size
Poblano peppers are quite large, and you can identify them based on their heart-shaped appearance. On average, poblanos are four inches in length and two inches in width. Poblano peppers are wider at the stem and get narrower along the length.
What’s Up With Ancho Chiles?
Poblano peppers are versatile and can be dehydrated and dried for a deeper, darker flavor profile. When they have fully ripened and are left out to dry, they are called ancho chiles. That said, sometimes, you may find poblano peppers at the grocery store under this name, even if they haven’t gone through the entire process yet.
Why Cook With Poblano Peppers
Now that you know how to identify poblano peppers at the grocery store, you can confidently bring them home and learn to cook with them. There are many benefits to cooking with poblano peppers, such as their flavor, versatility, and health benefits.
Flavor and Versatility
Poblano peppers are known for their flavor, which is intense without being overpowering. Not nearly as mild as a green bell pepper but nowhere near as spicy as a jalapeno, the poblano pepper offers just a bit of spice that’s the perfect accompaniment to tons of dishes.
Since the spice isn’t overpowering, one of the advantages of cooking with poblano peppers is that the mild spice brings out the sweetness of other ingredients that you’re using.
While the green and red poblano peppers are similar, they do have different levels of spice. Dried red poblano peppers sometimes have a slightly smoky taste, which is another great way to pack a punch in your favorite food. As you can tell, the peppers are quite versatile depending on which color you choose to cook with and in what form you decide to purchase.
Like other vegetables, there are many health benefits to poblano peppers. The vegetable is plentiful in antioxidants, supports immunity, and may even help soothe inflammation. This delicious vegetable is also rich in many different vitamins such as vitamin C and vitamin A. It’s important to note that, much like other vegetables, when you cook poblano peppers, they do lose some of their nutrients - but they are still super nutritious, and the flavor is out of this world.
Where to Get Poblano Peppers
Despite being native to Mexico, you can also find poblanos at your local supermarket. They are easy to find in the US, especially in states closer to the Mexico/US border.
How To Eat Poblano Peppers
There are many different ways to incorporate poblano peppers into your favorite recipes. They can be roasted and added to a charcuterie board, mixed into your morning omelet, stuffed with other ingredients, or included in soups and sauces.
Poblano peppers are also a great addition to different sauces as they contribute to the sauce’s texture while also providing flavor. Whether you’re making enchiladas or you want to spice up the pesto that you’re putting on your noodles, poblanos are a great addition.
If you’re looking for snacks, poblano peppers are a fantastic addition to guacamole. On a similar note, try including a diced poblano pepper in your salsa next time. If you want a snack that can be served hot, these Cheese and Spicy Pepper Potato Balls are a fantastic option—they’re filled with cheese and a combination of poblano and serrano peppers that is sure to satisfy your craving for spice.
Poblano peppers are also outstanding in soups! When you puree poblano peppers, they fit perfectly into spicy, creamy concoctions that are perfect for a chilly fall day. When you incorporate poblano peppers into your soup, try serving it with these crispy panko-crusted Arroz Con Pollo Fritos.
For the ultimate poblano pepper meal, slice off the tops, take out the seeds and fill the peppers with your favorite vegetables and couscous or quinoa. This is an amazing side dish for any backyard barbeque or sandwich.
Helpful Tips for Cooking With Poblano Peppers
Cooking with poblano peppers is quite simple, although there are some helpful tips we want to share with you to make sure that the experience is nothing but fun.
Our first tip is to make sure not to touch your eyes when you are handling poblano peppers. While they are not extremely spicy, they do have a slight kick to them, and your eyes are sensitive. Putting things into perspective, poblano peppers are between 1,000 and 2,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units). This ranking is on the Scoville Scale, where jalapeno peppers rank higher at around 8,000 SHU—you don’t want any of that in your eyes.
If you can’t find poblano peppers at the grocery store for some reason, we recommend using anaheim chili peppers as a substitute. Just watch out, because you should know that these peppers are slightly more spicy than poblano peppers. The two are very similar in texture, size, and thickness, though, so the swap works out well. If you aren’t a fan of hot peppers and can’t find poblano peppers, we recommend using a small, green or red bell pepper.
An amazingly simple way to cook poblano peppers is on the barbecue. This is a great way to add a smokier taste to your meal, and it eliminates cleanup, so you can spend less time washing dishes and more time enjoying your food.
Poblanos also lend themselves well to roasting. You can put them on tin foil in the oven and either bake or broil them. You will notice the peppers’ skins turning black; when you do, don’t panic. This is completely normal. Just keep an eye on them, as they won’t need longer than 30-40 minutes at 400F.
Now that you know practically everything there is to know about poblano peppers, you can start to cook with them. Following our tips on how to cook with poblano peppers is a great place to start.
We also encourage you to get creative! Some of the best dishes are created by experimenting with different ingredients. Why not let poblano peppers be one of them? Let’s get cooking!
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