EATING well

Please Pop with Baked Prosciutto-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

These jalapeno poppers are stuffed with two kinds of cheese and then wrapped with prosciutto. 

Associated Press

These jalapeno poppers are stuffed with two kinds of cheese and then wrapped with prosciutto. 

What to do on Father's Day when it's time to eat and you want to serve something manly and filling? Here's a nominee that re-engineers jalapeno poppers, a classic sports bar appetizer.

Standard jalapeno poppers are thumb-sized hot peppers stuffed with cream cheese and cheddar cheese, then breaded and deep-fried. Yummy, but most home cooks aren't too excited about the mess of deep frying. That's why there also is a baked version.

Both types are delicious, but neither is all that healthy.

From a culinary point of view, jalapeno poppers make complete sense. Nothing tames a chile's heat like dairy. That's why so many cultures serve their fiery entrees with dairy as a side dish. And that's why cheese is right at home in a jalapeno popper.

But it doesn't have to be high-fat cheese. The fresh goat cheese in this recipe delivers the required creaminess, while a very modest amount of Parmigiano-Reggiano delivers the required flavor.

I brightened up the filling with scallions and lemon zest, then wrapped the stuffed jalapeno in prosciutto, my substitute for bacon. Though it has a lot less fat than bacon, prosciutto boasts big pork flavor. And when it's baked, it's nice and crispy, which eliminates the need to coat the pepper with bread crumbs.

A couple of tips for preparing the jalapenos: First, wear rubber gloves when halving and gutting the peppers. You don't want capsaicin oils burning your hands. Also, use a grapefruit spoon, if you have one, to remove the pepper's ribs and seeds, which are the hottest parts.

BAKED PROSCIUTTO-WRAPPED

JALAPENO POPPERS

4 ounces fresh goat cheese

1 ounce grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

¼ cup finely chopped scallion greens

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

6 jalapeno peppers

3 ounces (12 slices) prosciutto

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, then coat it with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine the goat cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, scallion greens and lemon zest. Halve the jalapenos lengthwise and carefully remove the ribs and seeds (wear rubber gloves to protect your hands). Stuff each half with the cheese mixture, being sure to use all of it.

Wrap 1 slice of prosciutto around each stuffed jalapeno half, overlapping the ends of the prosciutto on the bottom of the jalapeno. Arrange the poppers on the prepared baking sheet, then bake on the oven's center rack until the prosciutto is slightly crispy, about 15 minutes.

Serves 6.

Nutrition information per serving: 110 calories (60 calories from fat, 55 percent of total calories); 7g fat (4g saturated, 0g trans fats); 25mg cholesterol; 2g carbohydrates; 1g fiber; 1g sugar; 10g protein; 540mg sodium.

Please Pop with Baked Prosciutto-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers 05/29/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 29, 2014 6:51pm]

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