We’re taking a cue here from Latin queso frito, or firm cheese cooked on the grill. Although it’s often served as an appetizer or eaten along with breakfast, we’re making it the main event here and serving it atop a bed of yellow rice with poblano pepper slices and an herb-based salsa. It deserves to be the main event, too—once you bite into all that salty, buttery deliciousness, you’ll understand why.
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Cuban Spice Blend
Wash and dry all produce. Halve and peel onion. Dice one half; thinly slice other. Mince garlic. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add diced onion and half the garlic. Cook, tossing, until just softened, 3-4 minutes. Stir in Cuban spice and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.
Add rice to pot and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in 1¼ cup water and bring to a boil, then cover, lower heat, and reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook until tender, 15-20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and season with salt and pepper.
Core, seed, and thinly slice poblanos. Cut half the grilling cheese into ¼-inch-thick slices (use the rest as you like).
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat (use a nonstick pan if you have one). Add poblanos and sliced onion. Cook, tossing occasionally, until soft and lightly charred, 8-10 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
While veggies cook, finely chop cilantro. Halve lemon. Stir together cilantro, a large drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and a pinch of remaining garlic in a small bowl. (TIP: Add more lemon and olive oil as needed to create a loose, drizzly consistency.) Season with salt, pepper, and more garlic (to taste).
Add grilling cheese slices to pan used for veggies over medium-high heat. (TIP: If your pan isn’t nonstick, add a drizzle of olive oil first.) Cook until browned all over, about 2 minutes per side. Divide rice between plates, then top with veggies and grilling cheese. Drizzle with herb salsa and a squeeze of lemon.