Occasionally I sit at the table gnashing my teeth and staring balefully at a plate of vegetables. My complaint, I think, is a common one – there simply are not enough vegetables in my vegetables. I, and no doubt you, will be relieved to discover that Trader Joe’s has taken a direct approach to resolving this problem by splitting some poblano peppers open and stuffing them to over flowing with corn, beans, wheat berries, quinoa (and a bit of cheese) in Trader Jose’s Vegetable Stuffed Poblano Peppers.
Essentially we are dealing with a chile rellano made with more veggies instead of meat. Why this rellano like product, not even labeled as such, is handled under the Trader Jose’s label while this one is not shall remain a mystery for all time – knowable only to the augerers in Trader Joe’s occultism department.
This veg-and-cheese medley makes for a tasty filling and manages to avoid the heavy lingering vegetable aftertaste common to other veggie-only dishes. This is notable given that the veggies in question are massive, whole kernels of corn and insolent, lounging beans – an almost aggressively vegetarian dish showing off its full vegetable pedigree on its face. That said, the strongest taste is that of the meaty, thick-skinned poblano peppers that require a knife to saw through. The poblanos have lost much of the fire they pack while raw but not all of it, making this a mild dish with a faint edge of tongue-tingling heat.
I microwaved my Vegetable Stuffed Poblano Peppers in leiu of the 25 minute oven prep, and found that the peppers came out somewhat tough and resistant – far from the tender bell pepper skin of Trader Joe’s Stuffed Peppers with Seasoned Turkey and Rice. Worse, the poblanos were laced through with a bitter tinge, a common feature of poblano’s that have been overcooked. Was this my fault? Perhaps, but I adhered to TJ’s box-side directions so I’m going to pass the buck on to them.
A final intriguing touch is the addition of wheat berries and quinoa in the stuffed peppers – two quasi-grains not commonly associated with Mexican cuisine. I wrote about these trendy, health alternatives to other grains here. In the stuffed peppers their presence is largely undetectable, masked by the other stronger tastes, but lending a pleasant quality to the texture of the sauce.
I mentioned Trader Joe’s Turkey and Rice Stuffed Peppers already, and I can’t help but comparing this dish with that one overall. Do Trader Joe’s Vegetable Stuffed Poblano Peppers stand a chance of replacing this favorite of mine? By no means, the tender, savory, seasoned turkey stuffed peppers beat this newcomer across the board. A decent stuffed-pepper stand-in for the vegetarian crowd perhaps, if they found this one too cheesy, but no match for taste and texture of the stuffed red peppers.
Would I Recommend It: To vegetarians in need of a hearty stuffed pepper only.
Would I buy it again: Almost certainly not.
Final Synopsis: A vegetarian-friendly chile rellano that’s basically mediocre.