Wednesday, December 23, 2009

VEGAN TAMALES to Rock Your World!!

Tis' the Season and all of that - the Season for tamales anyway.

I'm a bad (but very busy) blogger, hopefully this family Holiday favorite of ours will hold you over.

I love tamales because they're CHEAP CHEAP! A bag of masa lasts our family forever, you can fill them with WHATEVER, and I even save corn husks from the summer to make them!! I guess they're very traditional in New Mexico and other parts of the Southwest at Christmas. We like them pretty much whenever the mood strikes (and I have many hands to help!!). My fabulous friend Shaun, who lives and breathes New Mexico dust, taught me to make these and they've been a hit ever since. Yes, they are a bit time-consuming, but even my 10-year-old does a fine job rolling them - not difficult, I promise!

Be sure to spice the filling to your preference or even a bit extra, it mellows a lot as the tamales steam.

Vegan Tamales Many Ways

Filling: Choose One or Two of the following, you need a Tablespoon or less for each tamale:

Spicy "Meat" Filling:
  • 1 package Field Roast Chipotle Sausage at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese, any type
    -- Remove casing from Field Roast sausages. Crumble/mash with fork or hands until very smoothly crumbled. (This works MUCH better with your hands, the texture is much better and it's easier! But I definitely recommend gloves, as the sausage will STAIN and it's very spicy!) Mix with cheese (this is more to make it easier to work with than anything else) until it's sticky. Set aside. (Don't worry about how spicy this is, it mellows out tremendously after an hour of steaming)

    Black Bean-Sweet Potato Filling
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed and slightly mashed
  • 1 med-large sweet potato/yam, cooked and cut in small cubes
  • 1/2 tsp EACH: cumin, salt, cayenne,
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
    -- Mix beans, potatoes and seasonings. Set aside.

  • 1 package plain, not breaded, Gardein or Morning Star Farms "Chicken" Strips (or your favorite similar product)
  • 1/2 cup roasted, chopped green chiles, well drained
  • 1 cup vegan cheese (again, this is mostly for texture, it helps hold the filling together, making assembly easier!)
    -- Coarsely chop and then crumble ('shred') chicken product (easier to get the right texture with your hands) and mix with green chiles and cheese until sticky.

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1/2 a med. onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup corn, canned is fine, or cooked from frozen
  • 5 medium mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeƱo (or to taste), minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pinch garlic, oregano, lemon-pepper
    -- Saute veggies in a non-stick pan until tender-crisp. Season. Set aside. Drain right before using. You can use any veggies you want; Chopped, fresh cilantro is SO GOOD here too.

    "Fajita Chicken", ChickPea and Green-Olive (One of our new FAVORITES!! from my chef-friend Greg!)
  • 1/2 package of your fave "chicken" product
  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzos), slightly mashed, leave some whole
  • 1 cup green olives, sliced in half (this doesn't have to be exact)
  • 2 Tbsp. "Fajita" sauce (I have a vegan one from the grocery that I use, choose whatever works for you here)
    -- Mix sauce and "chicken together and "shred" a bit, add chick-peas and green olives. This mixture is crumbly and messier to put in the tamales, but it's SO VERY tasty!!


  • Tamales:
  • dried corn husks, about 3 dozen
  • 4 cups masa mix
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 4 cups vegetable broth, warm
  • 1/2 cup margarine and 1/2 cup coconut oil (for the best texture)

    Put the cornhusks in a sink of warm water, gently separate and remove debris, silks, and any dirt. Leave to soak for 30 min.

    In a deep bowl, combine the masa, baking powder, seasoning and salt. Pour the broth into the masa a little at a time, working it in with your fingers. In a small bowl, beat the margarine/coconut oil until soft and sorta "fluffy" (depending on how warm it is in your kitchen, this may not work too well). Add it to the masa and beat until the dough has a spongy texture about like mashed potatoes (but stickier).

    Roll the tamales: If you have never made tamales, this video shows how easy it is: Tamale Video Here

  • Rinse, drain, and dry the corn husks. Set them out on a sheet pan covered by a damp towel along with the bowls of masa dough and filling. Start with the largest husks because they are easier to roll. Lay the husk flat on a plate or in your hand with the smooth side up and the narrow end facing you. Spread a thin, even layer of masa over the surface of the husk with a tablespoon dipped in water. Do not use too much! Add about a tablespoon of the filling in the center of the masa. Fold the narrow end up to the center then fold both sides together to enclose the filling. The sticky masa will form a seal. Pinch the wide top closed. I tie mine, but some people don't - it all depends on what you prefer...

    Stand the tamales up in a large steamer or colander with the pinched end up. Load the steamer into a large pot filled with 2-inches of water. The water should not touch the tamales. Lay a damp cloth over the tamales and cover with lid. Keep the water at a low boil, checking periodically to make sure the water doesn't boil away. Steam the tamales for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

    The tamales are done when the inside pulls away from the husk. The tamal should be soft, but firm and not sticky or mushy. To serve, unfold the husk and eat as is, or spoon sauce of your choice (red or green chile sauce like a good New Mexican would be perfect here, but use what you want) over them.


    The Voracious Vegan said...

    I love tamales so I believe when you say they will rock my world. Thank you for this recipe, can't wait to give it a try.

    Karyn said...

    You read my mind! or you heard me whining this morning because I didn't make any tamales this year. LOL.
    Hubby will be leaving the day after Christmas and that means I can make tamales to my lil heart's content.
    I can't wait to try the black bean & sweet potato....and the green chile tamales...oh and the veggie tamales...and did I miss one? I love making several different kinds.

    Thanks for the recipes and for giving me something to do and keep me out of trouble.

    Tofu Hunter said...

    Ooo, I love it! Great post!

    radioactivegan said...

    There's a really good tamale recipe in Veganomicon, too. I love tamales so much and they freeze so well that I usually make a zillion and keep them forever (they do take a while to roll up).

    Angel said...

    Sounds really good. Thanks for sharing. I plan on trying the black bean and sweet potato one.

    T said...

    I made some, inspired by this post! They were so perfect for Christmas dinner. Your blog is just so full of good ideas!