Happy Vegan Month of Food! I’m so excited to be participating in my first-ever VeganMoFo this year. I hope to, and plan on, blogging as much as possible this month. My first entry for VeganMoFo is actually not a pastry recipe like I typically post. Here’s a really delicious tamales recipe in which the masa de maíz (or corn dough) has pumpkin in it. The masa de maíz in these tamales is simply delicious, moist and subtly spicy. I filled the tamales with black beans and sautéed peppers with garlic and shallots. But the possibilities are almost endless for tamale fillings. You could make the filling more spicy by using jalapeno, or chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. You could fill them with chorizo-style seitan, or ground vegan sausage with taco seasonings. I decided to keep the spice level to a minimum with these, because my 1-year-old son did have a few nibbles. However, if you’d like to kick-up-the-heat in these, use spicy salsa or sriracha sauce to taste or in place of the Mexican tomato sauce that I use in this recipe.
Making tamales is definitely time-consuming, however if you plan ahead and have all your ingredients ready, you can create a fine tamale assembly line. It also helps to have a friend in the kitchen to help; one person can fill the tamales, the other can wrap them. One of the many great things about tamales is you can make them, freeze them, and then have tamales throughout the week or month. You can also make up a batch of tamales and feed some friends, or family. This recipe makes 16 large or 20 medium tamales – so there is definitely plenty to share. Now, let’s make some tamales!
Pumpkin-Masa de maíz Tamales
makes 16-20 tamales
22-24 corn husks – soaked in warm water until soft
For the broth and dough:
2 c. vegetable broth
1 c. water
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1/4 c. Mexican tomato sauce (or thin salsa)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small shallot, minced
1 Tbsp. dried coriander leaves (or cilantro)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
3 c. masa de harina (sometimes called maseca)
1 c. extra virgin olive oil
For the filling:
3 shallots, sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 bell peppers
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
sprinkle of salt to taste
1 2/3 c. prepared black beans (or 1 – 15 oz. can black beans)
2 Tbsp. Mexican tomato sauce (or salsa)
For the broth, in a large saucepan combine vegetable broth, water, pumpkin, salsa, garlic, shallots, cilantro, cumin and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, combine the maseca and the broth in a large bowl. Stir in the olive oil until a soft dough forms. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside while you make the filling.
For the filling, in a cast-iron skillet (or other frying pan or wok) saute the sliced shallots and garlic in a little olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Then add the sliced peppers and saute until caramelized. Season with a little salt to taste. Remove from heat. In a small bowl, combine 2-3 tablespoons of Mexican tomato sauce to the black beans and stir. Set aside.
Now it’s time to roll up some tamales!
First, take about 3 corn husks and tear into 20 or so little strips. Set aside in a small bowl of water. You will use the strips for tieing up the ends of the tamales. Next, take a soaked corn husk and place it open side up, scoop about 1/4 cup of masa de maíz dough onto the husk and press down and spread out the dough with your fingers. Then, scoop 2 tablespoons of black beans on top of the dough. Next spoon some peppers on top of the beans. Scoop about 2-3 tablespoons of dough on top of the peppers. I like to first press and flatten this topping of dough in the palm of my hand (see above picture). Wrap the husks around the dough and filling (like you would wrap a burrito). Tie the ends of the husks with the reserved husk strips. You can cut the strips and ends down if you’d like to. Repeat for the remaining tamales!
If you have a 10-inch large steamer, you can steam the tamales for 1 hour. But if you’re like me, and you don’t have a steamer basket you’ll have to be a little bit punk rock when cooking these tamales. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Place the tamales in a large metal baking pan (glass would work too). On the bottom of the pan, add some water (about 2-4 tablespoons). Place the tamales in the pan side-by-side. Cover the pan with a sheet of aluminum foil and poke a bunch of holes in it with the end of a fork. Bake for 1 hour. Remove pan from oven, carefully lift off the foil and let sit for 10 minutes or so before eating. I like to serve these with some fresh pico de gallo and a little hot sauce to taste.
Like I said, tamales make a great dinner to share, or to bring to a potluck or supper-club. Your friends and family will be seriously impressed by your mad-cooking-skills. Tamales really are easy to make, just a bit time-consuming. But the end result is totally worth it. The pumpkin masa de maíz in these is so delicious and moist. They are guaranteed to be a fall favorite for dinner for years to come. I hope you enjoy!
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