Monday, June 6, 2011

Vegetable Tamale Pie and Garlicky Kale

Today's recipe comes in two versions for your culinary pleasure: one vegetarian, and one vegan.

I recently was a guest at a dinner that served tamale pie. It looked so good, and I've been wanting to make one for so long, that I finally got off my keester and began to look up recipes. Little did I know what I was getting myself into!

I guess there is some tamale war out there in blogosphere, on how exactly to make the right tamale pie. Do you put the masa on the bottom? The top? Bottom and top? Do you use corn flour, masa, or polenta? Not being the purist, I tend to cook with what I have on hand. So I'm offering my recipe as I made it, with notes on other options you might try.

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups masa flour (or polenta, or corn flour, but skip baking powder if using polenta)
1.5 tbsp fat (butter, vegetable oil, etc)
1 cup water or stock
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp each cumin and chili powder

Mix this all up until blended. It should be thick like play-doh, not runny. Press into the bottom of an 8x8 or 9x9 pan.

For the middle:
2 cups cooked pinto or black beans
1 15 ounce can of diced or stewed tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup of salsa or green sauce
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup of sauteed onion and zucchini, corn, peppers...whatever you have on hand!

In a large bowl mix and roughly smash (not too much!) the above ingredients. Spread this on top of your masa in the pan.

For the topping:
Vegetarian: 1-2 cups of cheese
Vegan: Another layer of masa! Make up another batch and spread or drop it by the tablespoon on top of the filling.

Bake at 375 until the middle is bubbly and the masa is set, about 20-30 minutes. Let cool about 10 minutes before serving.

While it's cooling, make your Garlicky Cumin-Scented Kale:
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 cups kale, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1 tsp cumin

Heat some olive oil in a pot, and saute your garlic and spices for about 1 minute, or until they are fragrant. Add in your kale and toss to coat. Put a lid on the pot and cook until your kale is as desired. For crisper greens, cook just a few minutes, or longer for more tender greens.

Serve with chopped green onions and salsa.

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