Chiles en nogada with fresh fruit

If you have missed me, I’ve missed you, too, but it’s just been too hot to be in the kitchen this summer. El Día de la Independencia, September 16, brought me back from the brink of forgetting that I even have a food blog. Chiles en nogada, the traditional dish served for Mexican Independence Day, helped reacquaint me with mi cocina mexicana.

A year ago, I featured Chiles en Nogada the way they are traditionally made in Mexico — with dried fruit. For something different, this recipe features fresh fruit instead of dried, with a golden delicious apple and a sweet, juicy peach. I think plums and pears would be great in this, also. With all the beautiful fruit in the markets this month, the possibilities are endless.

My taster-in-residence says these chiles en nogada are delicious, but for a real test, he would need to taste them side by side with the dried fruit version. At least that’s what I think he said between mouthfuls of stuffed poblano. His sly smile means he really wants me to make more, with either dried or fresh fruit. He’s not particular.

Chiles en nogada are usually garnished with pomegranate seeds, something hard to come by in our little town. I substituted an unusual fruit, Natal plum (Carissa macrocarpa), that grows in our yard. Its color replicates the pomegranate seeds, but its flavor resembles a sweet cranberry. If you are in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle and walk along the Marina Riviera Nayarit, you will see hundreds of Natal plum bushes lining the walk-way, bright with aromatic white flours and red, little plum-like fruit.

The word nogada is Spanish for “sauce of pounded walnuts”, according to Cassell’s Spanish Dictionary. The creamy, white walnut sauce adds a mellowness all of its own. Don’t bother trying to peel the walnuts, as many recipes recommend. It is too tedious a chore and really not necessary.

Chiles en Nogada with Fresh Fruit
  • 6 poblano chiles
  • 3 medium tomatoes (.75 lb./340 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (6-7 oz./220 grams), medium dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. (1/2 kilo) ground beef
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz./30 grams) finely chopped walnuts or sliced almonds
  • 1 apple, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 peach, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml.) ground cinnamon
  •  1/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 ml.) crema (Mexican sour cream), crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml.) walnut meat
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • pomegranate seeds for garnish (optional)
  1. Roast and peel poblano chiles. Carefully slit down center and remove seeds, keeping chile intact. Set aside.
  2. Roast and peel tomatoes. Squeeze out juice, reserving the liquid. Finely chop tomatoes. Set aside.
  3. Saute onion and garlic  in a tablespoon of olive oil until tender.
  4. Add ground meat and cook until no longer pink.
  5. Add tomatoes, 1/4 cup walnuts (or almonds), fruit, bay leaves, cinnamon, oregano, salt and pepper and simmer for ten minutes, covered, stirring occasionally. Do not allow to cook dry. Add reserved tomato juice or water to maintain moisture if needed.
  6. Remove bay leaves.
  7. To make the sauce, combine crema or sour cream and 3/4 cups walnuts in blender until smooth. Add a little milk if it is too thick. Salt to taste.
  8. Generously fill chiles with meat mixture, spoon walnut sauce over top, and garnish with pomegranate seeds or any red colored fruit, chopped.
  9. Serve hot, cold or room temperature.

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30 thoughts on “Chiles en nogada with fresh fruit

  1. gorgeous!! just popped in on the off chance you were back up and running. I’ve popped in several times, but this time I got lucky. welcome back, Cooking in Mexico!!

    1. It’s good to be back, t.t., but you know better than anyone the self-discipline it takes to keep up with a blog. I have to set priorities and keep the blog near the top of my to-do list. Thanks for the welcome.

  2. Kathleen I was thinking about you today. They are having a festival in our town celebrating Mexico’s Independence day and we had some authentic Mexican food for lunch where this woman was making fresh tortillas for the tacos…pulling a ball from this huge pile of dough and cooking each one on the griddle as they are ordered. We had some fresh made gorditas too. Yum, everything smelled so good. I will have to make this for sure, but then I always want to make your recipes. I have a Natal plum growing in my front yard and have used them in my bento box lunch. Ha! Now I can use them in this! So good to have you back!

    1. Hi Lyndsey,
      Thank you, I’m glad to be back. Your Mexican fiesta sounds like it was full of good tastes. Nothing like freshly made tortillas, hot off the press. That may be a future post for me — home made corn tortillas.

  3. That would be the sansho pepper in the mix! It’s a breath, but not quite like mint or pepper. Bright.
    For me, cinnamon is warm, dry, and longing for sweetness. It balances well with green flavors. Dark.

    That is just me, maybe a little crazy?

    I suspect Japanese food today may include cinnamon, but it is not at all traditional.

    1. After doing some Googling, I read that Sansho pepper is not a chile, but is the same as Szechuan pepper. It’s not a peppercorn but a spice, and an ingredient in the Seven Spice mixture. Now I will have to add Seven Spice to my shopping list for the next trip to the States.

      1. Shichimi Togarashi is wonderful, I know you would love it, I do. I find myself sprinkling it on fried rice, or just rice and chicken, well so many other dishes. I like the orange peel with the pepper, gives it a warmth or depth. Sorry to butt in here! :)

  4. These look luscious: I love a walnut sauce! Fruit and meat make such a surprising combination, and if I were to describe this to friends here in the midwest of the U.S. they would be skeptical but I know they would enjoy this recipe. I miss cinnamon in the Japanese cooking I do mostly.

    Like you, I didn’t cook much this summer: traveling. My sis made some pancakes with bananas, chocolate chips, and cinnamon at a cottage we stayed at: served with fresh blueberries and sliced peaches. Seemed sort of Mexican to me, exotic and very fresh tasting.

  5. Hi Kathleen!
    You are not going to believe this, but I was just here (in your site) wondering when you’d have something new. So great to have you back! I was thinking myself of what to make to Celebrate “El día de la Independencia”. The chiles look delicious……

    1. Hi Paolita,
      Thank you — it’s good to be back and it’s great to hear from all my friends. Chiles en Nogada are THE dish to serve for El Día de la Independencia. All over Mexico, they will be on the dinner tables.

  6. Darlene

    So happy to see you back on the blog. It has been a long hot summer and now it is time to bake and cook and start settling into Autumn.
    Missed you,

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