Vegetarian chile rellenos

February 19, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A vegetarian twist on a classic dish. Executive Chef Shea Ohlott and owner Jeff Dudum of Maria Maria in Mill Valley share this delicious recipe.

Recipe: Vegetarian chile rellenos


  • 20 Reconstituted Ancho Chiles *
  • 20 c. Vegetable Stuffing **
  • Ranchera Sauce ***
  • Cheese Mix ****
  • Shoestring Vegetables (for garnish) *****
  • Cilantro (for garnish)


1. Sautee the vegetable mix until hot.

2. Stuff the reconstituted ancho chiles with an even amount of the vegetable stuffing.

3. Heat a cast iron skillet, and sprinkle in some of the cheese mix, followed by ranchera sauce.

4. Place the chile relleno on top, and garnish with the shoestring vegetables and cilantro

* To Reconstitute The Ancho Chiles:

  • 16 Large Ancho Chiles
  • 1/2 lb. Piloncillo (available at gourmet markets, and Hispanic markets)
  • 5 inch long Mexican Cinnamon Stick (if no Mexican cinnamon, regular will do)
  • 1 1/4 c. Cider Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 2 c. Water


1. Cut a slit along the ancho from the 'shoulder' of the chili to the tip. Carefully remove as many of the seeds and as much of the core as you can without tearing the chili or pulling out the stem.

2. Heat water, vinegar, piloncillo, cinnamon, and salt to simmering in a non-aluminum saucepan, stirring until the piloncillo is dissolved.

3. Add the chiles, remove the pan from the heat, and weigh them with a plate to keep them submerged. 4. Soak until they are very soft, about 1 hour.

5. Drain them thoroughly and blot them dry with paper towels. They are now ready to fill.

**Vegetable Stuffing:


  • 8 Medium Zucchini, Trimmed and Sliced Lengthwise ½ Inch
  • 4 lb. Yukon Gold Potatoes, Peeled and Cut Into 2 in. Chunks
  • 1 c. Olive Oil
  • 4 Large Red Onions, Peeled and Cut Into ¼ Inch Slices
  • 12 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. Chili De Arbol Powder (or Chili Powder)
  • 4 tsp. Thyme
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cumin
  • 4 Poblano Chiles, Roasted, Peeled, Seeded and Cut Into ¼ Inch Strips


1. Rub the zucchini slices with oil and season them with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat until marked and tender, about 4 minutes. Cool and cut crosswise into ½ inch strips.

2. Boil the potatoes in salted water until barely tender but still firm, about 12 minutes. Drain and cool.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the potatoes and garlic and cook, stirring gently to keep the pieces of potatoes intact. After about 10 minutes, when the onions are wilted and the potatoes and onions brown in spots, add the chili powder, thyme and cumin. Season to taste with salt during cooking and at the end. Stir in the poblano and zucchini.

*** Ranchera Sauce:


  • 12 lbs. Tomatoes
  • 1 3/4 lbs. White Onions, Peeled/Finely Chopped
  • 2 oz. Garlic Cloves
  • 1/2 oz. Cinnamon
  • 3.5 ea. Chipotle Mora Chilies, Toasted/No Stem (sub other chipotle cihle)
  • 2 ea. Habanero Chilies, Roasted, No Stem
  • 1/2 c. Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Pint Carrot Juice
  • 2 Tbsp. Salt, or as Needed
  • 3/4 Tbsp. Ginger, Grated and Peeled
  • 3/4 Tbsp. Sugar, or as Needed
  • White Wine Vinegar, to taste.


1. Put the tomatoes core side down on a sheet pan and broil until the tomatoes are softened and the skins are blackened and shriveled.

2. When cool, peel and core the tomatoes. In a Vita Prep (or food processor), blend the tomatoes, onion, chilies, and garlic until smooth. Tie the cinnamon stick in a square of cheesecloth.

3. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the tomato puree and bring to a boil. Stir in the carrot juice, sugar, salt, ginger, and cinnamon bundle. Adjust the heat so the sauce is simmering. Cook until lightly thickened, a bout 30 minutes. If the sauce thickens too much before that time, lower the heat slightly and add water, a tablespoon or two at a time, to prevent the sauce from thickening too much.

**** Cheese Mix


  • White Cheddar Cheese
  • Swiss Cheese
  • Jack Cheese


1. Toss equal parts of coarsely grated cheeses together until blended. Store in refrigerator until needed.

***** Shoestring Vegetables:


  • Sweet Potatoes, Peeled
  • Young Seedless Zucchini, Washed and Trimmed
  • Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • All-Purpose Flour


1. Cut the sweet potatoes and zucchini on a mandolin (or by hand or food processor on the slice blade) into the finest shoestring possible. Cut them as close to the frying pan as possible.

2. Immediately before frying, season the vegetables with salt and pepper and toss them with just enough flour to coat them very lightly. Fry in 350 degree oil until browned and crisp. Drain on paper towels.

About Chef Shea Ohlott:
Shea Ohlott is the Executive Chef for Maria Maria Restaurant in Mill Valley. He has been with the restaurant since it's opening. Shea graduated from California Culinary Academy in 2003 with a degree in Culinary Arts. He worked as the Executive Sous Chef at Restaurant Lulu in San Francisco, then began his career with Dudum Sports and Entertainment in 2006. He was the Executive Sous Chef at Joe DiMaggio's Italian Chophouse in North Beach before being promoted to Executive Chef at Maria Maria in 2008.

Shea's alter ego, known as "Skulls" can be seen at all Raider home games in the Black Hole where he's become a recognized member of the Raider Nation.

About Maria Maria:
Maria Maria La Cantina is a creative collaboration between music legend Carlos Santana and Chef Roberto Santibanez. The Menu inspired by Carlos Santana, is a regional exploration of Mexican dishes presented with a modern flair. The Nuevo Mexican cuisine created by Chef Roberto Santibanez features traditional dishes with an innovative approach. Expect such surprises as slow braised duck tacos covered with a roasted tomato habanero cream sauce; grilled salmon filet served with a sauce that's both sweet and hot; and savory ancho chiles stuffed with roasted zucchini, red onions, potatoes and wild mushrooms served over melted cheese and a roasted tomato chipotle sauce.

651 E Blithedale Ave
Mill Valley, CA 94941
(415) 381-1070

1470 N. Broadway
Walnut Creek, CA 94596
(925) 946-1010

For more information, visit