Chiles en Nogada – Vegan Recipe


This Vegan Chiles en Nogada Recipe features roasted poblano chiles stuffed with lentil picadillo and topped with creamy walnut sauce, then sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. A simplified vegan version of the authentic Mexican National Dish!  Jump to Recipe 

overhead shot of vegan chiles en nogada with lentil picadillo and vegan walnut sauce

Try this Vegan Chiles en Nogada recipe with lentil picadillo & walnut sauce

A sophisticated, deeply satisfying Mexican comfort food dish with a knockout presentation! Perfect for a special occasion.

September is Chiles in Nogada season here in Mexico and a highly anticipated time all over the country as it is a reflection of the national pride and the celebration of Mexico’s independence which is celebrated on September 16. 

Independence day is the day when all restaurants would serve their secret recipe for a delicious traditional dish in honor of this special holiday – chiles en nogada.  This authentic Mexican recipe for stuffed chiles marries the art of traditional Mexican cooking with patriotism as the dish features all three colors of the Mexican flag.  It has the green chile poblano, the white sauce which is named after the nogal tree or walnut tree, and the red pomegranate arils.

Chiles en Nogada is truly the traditional Mexican dish. There are many versions of making this dish with a picadillo – a minced meat filling! To create a vegan chiles en nogada recipe,  I have chosen to make the picadillo filling plant-based by using lentils and a mix of fruit and spices!

What is Chiles en Nodada? 

Chiles en nogada is a roasted poblano chile traditionally stuffed with ” picadillo ” so a minced meat filling (we use lentils in this version), sautéed with onion, garlic, and tomato puree. Added are almonds, apples, olives, plantain, pear, capers, and raisins. I know -A LOT going on in here. To take things to the next level, the stuffed poblano chile is served smothered in a creamy walnut sauce ( salsa nogada )and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.

This dish is a complex array of textures, colors, and flavors and simply DELISH! The original recipe is a labor of love that requires a bit of time. But don’t worry I have adapted the recipe and simplified it a lot without compromising on the flavor! Yep, so you can make it at home in less than an hour. Trust me, your time will be richly rewarded by the smiles of your loved ones upon taking their first bite.

vegan chile en nogada served with walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds

History of Chiles en Nogada

After signing the treaty of Cordoba which granted Mexico its Independence from Spain, Agustin de Iturbide, a military commander who fought in Mexico’s War of Independence, traveled to Mexico City, stopping in the town of Puebla. There, the villagers held a grand feast to celebrate the country’s gained independence and to honor general Agustin de Iturbide.

The Augustinian nuns of the Santa Monica convent prepared a special dish for the feast using local, using in-season ingredients and the Mexican national dish Chiles en Nogada (chiles in walnut sauce) was born. 

poblano chiles on a chopping board

Why this vegan Chiles en Nogada recipe is so good: 

Grilled poblano chiles, you guys! The tender grilled Poblano chiles add those delectable smoky notes that can be achieved by roasting them in the oven.  I often do this on my gas stove but you can roast them in the oven (see recipe), put them under your broiler, or even grill them! Then we add the scents of sweet fruits, some cinnamon, nutmeg and aromatic cloves.

roasted charred poblano chiles on a silver plate

You can taste the fruits which aren’t too overly sweet, more like tender little sweet bursts in a savory filling! Now and then you get the little tender crunches of toasted almonds followed by sweet plump raisins. A tart pop of pomegranate,  the fresh herbiness of fresh parsley. Guys, Chiles en Nogada is a magical combination of flavors and textures! You have GOT to try this. 

Mexican cuisine is deeply integrated into the history, culture, and the community identity of the Mexican people, and this dish is only one example of the beauty and richness of it all.

a roasted poblano pepper stuffed with vegan lentil picadillo served with walnut sauce

“How much walnut sauce do I add?” you might ask yourself. “Al gusto,” is the answer. That means: “to taste.”

So of course I ladled a small lagoon of sauce over mine, so you could no longer see the chile. That’s how it’s meant to be, I think.

How to peel walnuts for nogada sauce:

To remove the skin from the walnuts bring a pot of water to boil and add the nuts. Boil the nuts for 8 minutes, remove and strain. When the nuts are cool enough to handle, rub the nuts with your fingers to remove the skin.

Blend until the walnuts are completely incorporated into the sauce. You don’t want chunks of walnut in the sauce. Smoothness counts for the sauce.

Tips for making this Vegan Chiles en Nogada recipe: 

  • You can use cranberries instead of raisins
  • I soak my raisins in sherry overnight 
  • Anaheim chiles can be used instead of poblano 
  • Peach is traditionally added to the picadillo, but you can use plums or leave them out.
  • Traditionally the walnuts for this recipe are peeled to keep the sauce as white as possible, but this takes insanely long, so you can skip it. 
  • You can use almonds, hazelnuts, or cashews instead of walnuts. 
  • Instead of lentils, you could use beefless crumbles, veggie crumbles, tempeh crumbles, TVP or jackfruit. 

MORE MEXICAN RECIPES: 

Did you make and love this vegan chiles en nogada recipe? Give it your review below! And make sure to share your creations by tagging me on Instagram!

vegan chiles en nogada with walnut sauce sprinkled with pomegranate seeds
5 from 2 votes
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Vegan Chiles en Nogada Recipe

This healthy Vegan Chiles en Nogada Recipe features roasted poblano chiles stuffed with lentil picadillo and topped with creamy walnut sauce, then sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. A simplified vegan version of the authentic Mexican National Dish!  

Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine Mexico
Keyword chiles en nogada recipe, vegan chiles en nogada, vegan stuffed chiles
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4
Calories 600 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups brown lentils dry 300g
  • ½ Onion large
  • 2 Garlic cloves peeled, smashed
  • 2 Large tomatoes
  • 4 Poblano peppers roasted, peeled, seeds removed

Lentil picadillo:

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • ½ Onion minced (1 cup)
  • 3 cloves Garlic minced
  • ¼ cup white wine or sherry
  • 1 pear diced
  • 1/2 big Apple diced or 1 small apple
  • 1 peach diced - or plum
  • ¾ cup green plantain peeled and diced
  • ¼ cup Slivered toasted almonds
  • 3 -4 tbsp. raisins or cranberries - I soak mine in sherry
  • 10 olives chopped
  • 1 tbsp. capers finely Chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. Clove ground
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. Cinnamon ground
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground black pepper
  • 1/3 tsp cumin

Sauce:

  • 1 cup Walnuts soaked in water the night before, drained
  • 1 cup Almond milk unsweetened
  • 1 cup vegan toast baguette or bolillo, cut the crust off, and cut bread into cubes
  • 1 tsp. sugar maple syrup, or Monkfruit or any sweetener of choice
  • 1 tsp. sherry or white wine
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 big pinch of cinnamon
  • Garnish:
  • 1 Pomegranate cut, peeled, and seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup Chopped parsley

Instructions

  1. Fill a medium pot with water and add lentils, ½ of an onion, and 2 smashed garlic cloves. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. While the lentils are cooking, place the two tomatoes and the poblano peppers on a sheet tray. Turn your oven broiler to high and place sheet tray on the top rack of the oven. Let them cook for a couple of minutes on each side until the tomato and the chiles begin to soften and have black spots all over. Remove from heat. Place the tomates and chiles in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest 5 minutes. 

    ALTERNATIVE: Roast/charr the chiles over your gas stove flame until charred

  3. Drain the lentils, reserve 1 cup of the lentil cooking liquid, and using a potato masher, mash the lentils a bit to break them up.

  4. Remove half of the skin off of the tomatoes, and using a blender process them into a puree. Set aside.
  5. Set a large pot to medium heat, add  oil and fry onions until translucent, add garlic, fry for a minute, then add ¼ cup of wine or sherry. Cook for 3 minutes until onion begins to soften a lot.

  6. Add cooked lentils, mix well, and pour in tomato puree. Let cook for 3-4 minutes or until the puree begins to bubble and change to a darker red color.
  7. Add clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, plantain, apple, peach, pear, almonds, olives, capers, and raisins. Stir mixture.

  8. Add 1 cup of the liquid you reserved from the lentils, and simmer for 20 min or until the plantain is cooked through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  9. While the vegan picadillo is cooking, soak the cut bread in the cup of almond milk for 10 minutes. In a blender, place the soaked bread and milk, previously soaked and drained walnuts, sugar, and white wine or sherry, cinnamon and salt and blend until smooth.
  10. Season to taste with salt. It should have the consistency of a cream sauce. If it is too thick, add some more almond milk. Set aside.
  11. Very gently scrape the skin the chiles with the blade of a knife. Remove as much skin as possible. You will probably have to use your fingers after using your knife to remove the remaining bits of skin. With a small knife, gently split the chile down the side without cutting all the way through the tip of the chile. The chiles have a seed pod at the base of the stem. Carefully use your fingers to remove the seeds.

  12. If you are unable to remove all of the little seeds with your fingers you can place the chile under running water to remove them. This chile is ready to be stuffed with the vegan picadillo filling.

  13. Fill each poblano chile with enough filling so that it will just close. You don’t want the filling to spill out the side of the chile onto the plate. If the chiles won’t stay closed you can use toothpicks to close them.

  14.  Place the chiles seam side down on a plate. Pour walnut sauce over them, and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and chopped parsley.

  15. Chiles en nogada are served gently warmed with the sauce at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

  • You can use cranberries instead of raisins
  • Anaheim chiles can be used instead of poblano 
  • Peach is traditionally added to the picadillo, but you can use plums or leave them out.
  • Traditionally the walnuts for this recipe are peeled to keep the sauce as white as possible, but this takes insanely long, so you can skip it. 
  • You can use almonds, hazelnuts, or cashews instead of walnuts. 
  • Instead of lentils, you could use beefless crumbles, veggie crumbles, tempeh crumbles, TVP or jackfruit. 


2 Comments


  1. Die Kenne ich noch aus dem Mexiko Urlaub und ICH LIEBE SIE! Super mega lecker sind sie geworden. Ich habe Spitzpaprika genommen und Berglinsen.


  2. Made these using a mix of soaked cashews and walnuts to get a nice white color! YUM! Will make again. It’s definitely worth the time!

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