It all started when I spied a container in the produce section at Whole Foods. Oh yeah…Roasted Hatch Green Chilies. One of my favorite bites in the world. Not too hot, not too sweet, just full of green chile flavor. Have you tried them? Its Hatch season right now – and if you’re very lucky, you can find them at Whole Foods – looking just like this long green guy in the picture above.

Hatch Chilies are from Hatch New Mexico, a town that calls itself the “Chile Capital of the World”. Once a year during chile season, the town hosts a festival to celebrate its bounty of chilies. The fun weekend includes chile eating contests, chile cooking contests and even a mariachi “play-off”! The Hatch festival is on my bucket list, I bet on yours too if you can find the little green lovelies.

What’s so great about chiles? One fresh medium-sized green chile has as much Vitamin C as six oranges, a tablespoon of the dried powder has all your daily requirements of Vitamin A, and one of the best things about hot chilies? They can burn calories by triggering a thermodynamic reaction in your today, which can speed up your metabolism. (WooHoo!) More than just eating them, they can make you feel better, too: Capsaicinoids, the chemical that makes chile peppers hot, are used in patches for sore muscles.Tastes great and makes you feel better. What’s not to like?

We celebrated Labor Day last night with a few friends that I knew would be up for a chile pepper feast. I started with the pile of Hatch Chiles, below.

Then I sautéed a bunch of onions and small sweet peppers with olive oil, cumin, turmeric, chile powder, sea salt and black pepper, a dash of red pepper flakes and then added some grated garlic cloves. Check out this pan of lusciousness! ( I added a little fresh cilantro in as well – I thought it would be much prettier in the picture:)

Once I had the veggies sautéed to a gorgeous golden and I started working on the casserole. I have a BIG dish that I used – but you can use a couple of smaller ones.  I started with black beans and then spread a layer of the veggies, topped with the chopped Hatch Chiles, then a sprinkle of shredded manchego and parmesan. A big plop of nonfat greek yogurt followed and then I repeated. Easy peasy, tasted wonderful! So good that when I put it down – this is what immediately happened – before I could take a picture! Just goes to show you how yummy this dish really is. Leftovers tonight – can’t wait!

The recipe follows – and if you are interested in not only cooking – but eating Hatch Chiles, check out this link:
Hatch Chile Celebrations in Georgia

Green Chile and Black Bean Casserole

2 Large Red Onions, Chopped
4 Cups Sweet Peppers, Chopped
2 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tsp Each Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 TB Cumin
1 TB Turmeric
1 TB Chile Powder
1/2 – 1  Tsp Red Pepper Flakes
6 Garlic Cloves, Grated
3 Cups Roasted Hatch Green Chiles, (can’t find Hatch? Use canned green chilies or ones you roast yourself)
4 (15 1/2 OZ) Cans Black Beans rinsed and drained, divided
2 Cups Grated Manchego Cheese, divided
1 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
3 Cups Nonfat Greek Yogurt, divided

Step One
Sauté the onions and peppers in the olive oil with the salt, pepper, cumin, turmeric, chile powder and red pepper flakes until the veggies wilt and the onions become translucent. Add the garlic and cook and stir until fragrant.

Step Two
While the veggies are sautéing, chop the Hatch chiles.

Step Three
Spray a large casserole dish – or two smaller ones with olive oil spray. Layer half of the beans, cooked veggies and chilies. Sprinkle with half of the grated cheeses and spread half of the yogurt on top. Repeat using the remainder of the beans, veggies, chilies, cheeses and yogurt. Slide, uncovered, into a 375F oven and let cook until hot and burbling around the edges. Serve with fresh salsa, sliced avocados and some warm corn tortillas. Oh! and invite me over, please:)

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