Every once in a while I get a bad case of what I call “appetizer envy.” It involves being jealous of anyone who either hosts dinner parties on a regular basis, or has a big enough family that an appetizer course is just a matter of fact. The reality is that when you’re cooking for two, there are just so few occasions that call for making multi-course meals—and a life without the occasional appetizer indulgence is just a sad life indeed. When appetizer envy strikes, I either drag my husband to a restaurant and force him to order five apps to split between the two of us for dinner…or, I whip up a batch of these baked black-bean jalapeño poppers. They always get the job done.
Most appetizers are generally so unhealthy that you don’t want to be eating them in dinner-sized quantities. Not true for these jalapeño poppers. Not only are they baked rather than fried, but they’re stuffed with black beans for a healthy dose of protein. Fresh corn adds juicy sweetness to cut the spice; the panko bread crumbs are mixed with smoked paprika and sprinkled over the tops to give a smoky umami crunch. The exact spice level will vary greatly depending on how hot your peppers are, but I noticed that much of the heat was toned down after roasting. If you are very spice-averse, you can make these with mini sweet bell peppers instead of the jalapeños, though you may have to increase the cooking time slightly as they tend to have thicker skins.
This healthier version of everyone’s favorite restaurant app is baked, not fried, and filled with black beans and fresh corn.
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