Casserole season is upon us! Let's start with one that everyone seems to dig - good old fashioned, American tamale pie.
I've veganized this classic dish with the help of some TVP. Even the original doesn't really have anything in it that resembles tamales, which makes me think it was probably invented in the 60s or 70s. It seems like the idea of Mexican food was all the rage among Americans at that time, but their actual practice of it was sorely lacking.
Wait, scratch that! Food Timeline just told me I'm wrong. Apparently, tamale pie appears in recipe books as early as 1918. Who knew? It's hard to imagine women in long skirts worrying about Woodrow Wilson and the Great War while cooking tamale pies in a coal burning oven, but history is never as predictable as it seems like it should be.
In any case, you ought to give this pie a go. It's a comfort food favorite, and apparently has been so for nearly a century.
The filling starts with a base of onions, garlic and poblano peppers. TVP is added and everything gets browned with a zesty mix of spices.
Tomatoes, corn, olives and some chipotle hot sauce finish it off.
The cornbread topping is slightly more daunting to prepare, but you should be fine as long as you work quickly. You're basically making a polenta porridge by stirring cornmeal into boiling water. You want to stir it long enough for the lumps to dissolve, but not so long that it hardens before you can spread it out over the filling. I recommend pulling it off the stove and stirring rapidly for about 2 minutes, then immediately spreading it over the pie.
The casserole is baked until the top turns golden. You can also sprinkle on some Daiya and then bake it a little longer to melt. It looks great garnished with some vegan sour cream and scallions.
1 1/2 cups dried TVP crumbles
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 large poblano pepper, seeded and diced (see tip)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (4 oz) can sliced black olives, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can corn kernels, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons chipotle hot sauce or to taste
4 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup Daiya cheddar style shreds (optional)
Vegan sour cream
Thinly sliced scallions
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly spray a 9x13” baking dish with cooking spray.
- Prepare the filling. Put the TVP crumbles in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and let simmer 5 minutes or until all of the water has been absorbed and the TVP is tender.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan on medium heat and add the onion, chile and garlic. Cook for 7-10 minutes or until onion is translucent.
- Add TVP crumbles, spices and salt. Increase the heat to medium high and cook, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes or until the TVP has browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes and cook another 2-5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in olives, corn and hot sauce. Cook 5 minutes longer. Spread filling along the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
- Prepare the topping. Combine water and oil in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add cornmeal and salt. Remove from heat and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes or until a thick porridge forms, then quickly spread over filling.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Sprinkle on Daiya (if using) and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until melted. Let cool 10 minutes before cutting into squares. Garnish with vegan sour cream and thinly sliced scallions.