“A chile relleno doesn’t have to be heavy,” says Arnaldo Richards, the owner of Pico’s. That’s why he eschews the usual egg batter and deep frying in favor of fire roasting and marinating. In place of the normal meat filling, he uses nutty-flavored wild rice sparked with raisins, slivered almonds, tart green olives, and jewellike dried cranberries. The only thing he hasn’t tinkered with is the sybaritic walnut sauce—a blend of cream, queso fresco, and sherry. Some customs are too sacred to change.

A luscious vegetarian version of Mexico’s traditional pork-stuffed pepper.

Try this recipe for Chile Relleno En Nogada from Pico’s, Houston.