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Vegan Tamale Pie
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Vegan Tamale Pie
This hearty vegan dish from Betsy DiJulio is a delicious way to enjoy the spicy, comforting flavor of traditional corn tamales. DiJulio's tamale pie substitutes real masa harina for cornbread, and is steamed in a bain-marie (water bath) so that the finished dish celebrates both the taste and texture of real tamales, but with less labor. For more meatless Mexican-inspired recipes, check out our 3 Mouth-Watering Vegan Mexican Food Recipes on VegNews.com. Olé!
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Serves 8
What You Need:
For the masa layer:
2 cups masa harina
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups vegetable broth, warmed

For the filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 large orange, red, or yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ancho or chipotle chile powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 15.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, including juice
1 4-ounce can diced green chilies, including juice
8 ounces lightly seasoned seitan, cut into bite-size pieces
4 cups lightly packed fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Zest of one-half of a medium lime
Vegan sour cream, fresh cilantro sprigs, or toasted pumpkin seeds, optional, for garnish
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What You Do:
1. For the masa layer, in a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients until well-combined. Mixture should be the consistency of a soft cookie dough. Cover and set aside while you prepare filling. Whisk masa well just before using, if necessary.

2. For the filling, place a large baking dish on middle rack of oven. Fill with two inches of water and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish and set aside.

3. For the filling, in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add onion, bell pepper, and salt, and sauté about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, or until vegetables are softened. Add garlic and sauté additional 30 seconds. Add cumin, chile powder, oregano, and paprika, and stir well to incorporate. Add beans, tomatoes, green chiles, and seitan, stirring to incorporate. Add spinach in two parts, allowing each to wilt slightly before continuing. Stir in cilantro and lime zest, and remove from heat.

4. Crumble half of masa into bottom of prepared baking dish, gently pressing with your fingers to cover bottom. Spoon filling evenly over masa layer and crumble remaining masa over top, again gently pressing to seal edges. Cover tightly with foil. Place covered baking dish into water bath, and cover water bath with more foil, sealing tightly. Bake for 45 minutes.

5. Remove from oven, uncover foil, and let tamale pie cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Cut into squares and serve with sour cream, cilantro, and pumpkin seeds.

Chef's Tip Masa harina is available at Latin markets and specialty grocery stores.

Photo: Betsy DiJulio
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