Iowa: Home of Giant Poblanos

Iowa: Home of Giant Poblanos

As I mentioned in a previous blog (Zucchini Bread), for reasons unknown to me, I cannot seem to grow zucchini in my suburban garden. Whatever causes that must not bother my poblano pepper plants. Everything I have read about these peppers indicate the plants should reach heights of 24″-48″. So explain this …


I am 5’8″ tall. I am standing in my garden, holding on to my two poblano pepper plants. I have no explanation. And before you accuse me of abusing Miracle Grow, I will plead guilty to two counts of liquid fertilizer this whole season. My cucumber plants failed. My green beans failed. But I have a poblano jungle!

dsc_5214I’m okay with that.

A poblano pepper falls in line between a bell pepper and a jalapeno pepper. I like to describe its flavor as warm rather than hot or spicy. The popular Mexican dish, Chiles Rellenos, is often made with poblano peppers.

I became a bit obsessed with these peppers a few years ago at the farmers’ market in downtown Des Moines. It was a fall day and I could smell them before I saw them … roasted poblanos. Not just roast-ed, roast-ing! This guy had a big metal cage filled with peppers, rotating over a flame. He had the warm peppers in plastic bags to take home. SOLD.

The next year, they were in my garden. The warmth and flavor of these peppers are magnified when they are roasted. My favorite ways to use them?

  • stuffed with seasoned pork, beans, rice and cheese
  • diced and folded into scrambled eggs with salsa
  • added into mexican soups/stews like Mexican Chicken Soup or Carrot-Poblano Soup
  • cut into strips and layered onto a burger with some pepper-jack cheese
  • added to guacamole and fresh salsa

I know it sounds like a lot of work but it is so worth it to have these guys hanging out in my freezer, waiting to make a  reappearance this winter!

Roasting Poblano Peppers

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  1. Wash and dry whole peppers, stem on.
  2. Drizzle peppers with olive or avocado oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Place peppers on a hot grill.
  4. Rotate peppers until charred and blistered on all sides.
  5. Remove from grill and place in a resealable plastic bag.
  6. When cool enough to handle, put on rubber or vinyl gloves and gently rub off the thin skin.
  7. Remove the stems, seeds and membranes.
  8. Dice, slice or leave whole and place in portion-sized resealable plastic bags and freeze.

There are many things about my garden that I cannot figure out. Sometimes those horticultural mysteries are what make gardening fun (a.k.a. frustrating). For now, I think I’m going to go make some burgers.

Can’t you just smell them now?

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