Corn and Bean Tamales

I tried tamales once at our favorite San Francisco Mexican joint, Gracias Madre, and immediately wanted to reproduce them…  Considering the fact that I wasn’t following any particular recipe, but chose whatever I felt right for the dish and combined it with whatever fridge content needed to be cooked, I wouldn’t completely rely on my unprofessional opinions here.  Nevertheless, these vegetarian tamales turned out delish!

My Russian interpretation of tamale is that they are just like tacos – masa dough + filling.  Except that the dough is not made into a pancake (tortilla) but steamed in a corn husk. Hence, I like my masa to be thinner – as I think the real delight is inside… 

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CORN AND BEAN TAMALES

INGREDIENTS:

Filling:

  • 1 cup corn (cooked)
  • 2 cups pinto beans (cooked)
  • ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
  • ½ cup Mexican cheese blend, shredded
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 cup seasonal vegetables, diced
  • salt, pepper, spices

Dough:

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • ½ tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp dried cilantro leaves
  • 1 (8 ounce) package dried corn husks
  • Kitchen twine
  • Sour cream and salsa for garnish

Yields about 12 tamales

DIRECTIONS:

Soak the corn husks in warm water for about 30 minutes

Prepare the filling: mix all the ingredients

Prepare the dough: mix all the ingredients and let cool in the fridge for about 15 minutes

Make tamales: put two corn husks together, overlapping, so they make a plate.  Make a small ball out of the dough (size of a golf ball) and flatten it on the husks.  Place a large helping of the filling in the center of the dough and cover the filling with edges of the dough.  Wrap the husks around the tamale and tie the edges with the twine.  Repeat with the rest.

Make ahead: Once the tamales are assembled, they could be frozen for at least 3 months.

Cook tamales: Steam tamales for 30 – 45 minutes in a steamer.

Serve with sour cream and salsa.

If you liked this recipe, you may enjoy:

Nopales Salad

Did I mention that we have the bestest neighbors?  If the Awesomest neighbor fixes our food processors and washes our car, the other neighbor feeds us.  This guy is pretty cool even though he has guns. He makes the best nopales salad I have ever eaten!  It is heavenly! I guess it reminds me of the Russian vinegret, though the pickles are replaced with cactus, that has a somewhat salty-sour flavor; black beans are used instead of potatoes and carrots, and Mexican cheese is added for a more delicate flavor – all in all a healthier, more nutritious version.

Our first attempt at making nopales ended up in a complete disaster as we bought unprepared cactus leaves at the farmers market.  Unless you enjoy tedious tasks similar to fish filleting combined with hedgehog petting you will not appreciate dealing with these guys! 

Apparently, they sell dethorned and chopped nopales at Mexican grocery stores – easy, breezy, …easy!

My neighbor encourages to use your own imagination when coming up with ingredients and dressings (in fact I had 3 different versions of his salad and made a couple of different versions myself ).  So, turn your creative side on and enjoy!Apparently, they sell dethorned and chopped nopales at Mexican grocery stores – easy, breezy, …easy!

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NAPALES SALAD

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup of black beans, soaked overnight or for at least 8 hours
  • 1 large beet
  • 1,5 cups of chopped and de-thorned nopales
  • 1 medium onion, peeled, and chopped
  • 4 oz of queso fresco (Mexican cheese, could be substituted with feta), chopped or crumbled
  • ½ bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 4-5 radishes, chopped
  • 1 chili pepper, diced
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Wash and drain the beans, place them into a soup pot, cover with water (about 2 inches of water over the beans), and boil for about 45 minutes until soft. Drain and chill.

Peel the beet and slice it into ¼ inch-thick disks, steam for 10-15 minutes until tender. Let chill for about 10 minutes, and chop the disks into cubes.

Bring 4 cups of water to boil, add a little salt.  Dump chopped nopales into the water, and boil for about 10 minutes.  Drain and wash under cold water to remove all the goo.

Make the dressing: whisk olive oil and vinegar together, add salt and pepper to taste.

Combine all the salad ingredients and add toss them with the dressing.

Serve by itself or with chips or tortillas.

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