Combine the words “melted” and “cheese” and you’ve got my attention – mozzarella sticks, Chicken Parmesan, pupusas, pizza, macaroni and cheese, chiles rellenos – They’re all firmly in my favorite foods category. So it should come as no surprise that when I found out about Salvadoran Rellenos de Ejotes, you didn’t have to tell me twice to grab a fork.
Fresh green beans are pressed by hand into softened mozzarella cheese, dipped in batter and fried until golden brown, then topped with homemade salsa. Carlos likes this served with rice, but I’m happy to eat them all on their own.
Rellenos de Ejotes
1 to 2 lbs. fresh green beans
1 lb. mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons of all purpose flour
oil for frying (I use Canola)
salt and pepper
1. Pull the stems off green beans and separate out any that are shriveled or too small. Discard the stems and shriveled green beans. Small green beans can be used in another recipe but for this one, you want big, strong green beans that are all around the same size.
2. Boil the green beans in slightly salted water for about 10 minutes or until when tasted they are tender and cooked but not soft. Drain and then set aside to cool to the point that they’re safe to handle by hand.
3. To soften mozzarella cheese, immerse the cheese (still in its packaging), in a bowl of warm water. After 5 to 10 minutes, remove the package of cheese from the water, remove the cheese from the packaging, and then knead it by hand in a medium-sized bowl until it’s soft and easy to mold with your hands. Set aside.
4. To make the batter, separate the eggs – placing the whites in a medium-sized bowl and the yolks in a small bowl. (I find the easiest way to do this is to carefully crack the egg and then pass the yolk back and forth between the two shells. The whites will fall into the bowl below and then when you’re left with only the yolk, you can put it in the other bowl.)
5. Beat the whites (an electric mixer comes in handy here), until stiff, then carefully mix in the yolks and then the flour.
6. To form the Rellenos de Ejotes, lay about 5 green beans in your palm, side by side. On top of this, add a small handful of cheese, and on top of that, repeat a layer of green beans like you have on the bottom. Cup your hands together and apply gentle pressure so that the green beans stick to the cheese.
7. Repeat this process until all the beans and cheese have been used. Season each Relleno de Ejotes with a little salt and pepper, then dip each one in the batter.
8. Fry the Rellenos de Ejotes in a few tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan, flipping once until golden brown on each side.
9. Remove to paper towels or place directly into salsa. (I prefer to keep the Rellenos out of the salsa until ready to eat to avoid any sogginess or falling apart.)
10. Serve topped with salsa. (My fresh salsa recipe is below.)
Señora López’s Fresh Salsa
3 to 4 fresh Roma tomatoes or a 32 ounce can of whole tomatoes
1 handful fresh cilantro
1/2 of a medium-sized onion
1/4 of a medium Poblano or green bell pepper
1 tablespoon raw, minced garlic
a few rings of pickled jalapeño (Optional. Add more or less to taste.)
salt to taste
a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce (also known as “Salsa Perrins.”)
Combine in a blender. Serve immediately or put in a jar and keep refrigerated for a few days. Use in almost any recipe calling for salsa, or as a side with Latin American dishes.