Garden Lifestyle

My Holy Quest for Mole

‘Holy Molé’ isn’t just an All-America Selections vegetable winner, it’s a pepper grown with only one purpose in mind.

‘Holy Molé’ is a hybrid pasilla-type pepper. The long, smooth peppers will eventually turn a dark chocolate brown.
Photo/Illustration: Jodi Torpey

Have you ever grown a plant with only one purpose in mind? I did this summer when I planted just one ‘Holy Molé’ pepper plant.

I’ve been planning on growing some ‘Holy Molé’ peppers ever since 2007 when this variety was announced as an All-America Selections vegetable winner. With a name like that, I knew it would have a place in my garden one day.

This is a hybrid pasilla-type pepper used to make mole (MOH-lay) sauce, a rich concoction of onions, garlic, chiles, cinnamon, and a small amount of Mexican chocolate. Blended together, this sauce is a dark reddish-brown that’s usually served with chicken. The chocolate makes the sauce especially rich and flavorful.

I planted one ‘Holy Molé’ in my container garden with the sole purpose of making one batch of this traditional Mexican sauce, sometimes called “the national dish of Mexico.”

I tended this plant carefully, making sure it got plenty of sun, water, and nutrients. It took all summer for these long, smooth peppers to grow to about 8 inches long. The plant produced 8 beautiful green peppers.

While I was picking different kinds of peppers off other patio plants and enjoying them in all kinds of recipes, I waited patiently for the ‘Holy Molé’ peppers to turn a rich chocolate brown.

When the peppers were finally ready, I picked them all at once and searched online to find a good mole recipe with a reasonable ingredient list. Many mole recipes call for at least 20 ingredients including the peppers, chili powder, and chocolate.

The recipe I used was a simple and traditional one I found on The Gardener’s Pantry Blog, written by the owners of Nichols Garden Nursery in Albany, Ore. Apparently, the garden center includes this recipe with the ‘Holy Molé’ seed packets it sells.

Preparing the mole was time-intensive, but the end result was a delicious dark, rich sauce I served over chicken and rice. There was plenty of sauce to freeze for another special dinner, perhaps on New Year’s Day. It would be a fitting way to celebrate the New Year and resolve to plant more ‘Holy Molé’ in the spring.

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