Monday, May 12, 2008

Tamale Pie: Stacked

Tamales are made usually made by steaming corn dough (masa) wrapped in corn husks. A filling is optional. More about them here.
Though I used similar ingredients, the method of preparing them is not the same (didn't steam them in corn husks). So what I made is technically not a tamale pie. But it is so good!

This is one of our new favourites. I made it for the first time a few weeks ago and I've already made it twice since then.
Instead of making individual pies, I stacked the ingredients in a pan and baked it. Much easier to make and serve. But you can get fancy-shmancy and serve individual portions like in the picture.

The base of this pie is polenta. Make your own or buy it pre-made. Either is fine. Making polenta is easy, just ask her.
The polenta is topped with a bean & green mixture and some sharp cheddar. A few minutes in the oven is all that is needed. Top with fresh salsa and dinner is served!

It is with the bean & green layer that you can get really creative. Literally anything goes.
So far I've used a combination of black beans, cannelini beans, leeks, and mustard greens. But a garbanzo bean, spring onion, and kale combination won't be too far behind.

Tamale Pie
(Inspired by a recipe in the Moosewood Restaurant New Classics.)
Enough for four quasi hungry people.
Use the quantities given below just as a guideline.

Prepare the polenta
You will need about 12 polenta slices.
Cook both sides of each slice, till it is slightly crispy.
Set aside.

Prepare the (simple) salsa
Mix together 2 cups cherry tomatoes (halved), 4-5 stalks of cilantro (chopped),
½ cup chopped onions, salt and pepper to taste.

Prepare the beans and greens
You will need:
2 cups cooked beans
4 cups cooking greens
1 cup leeks, chopped
8-10 stalk cilantro, chopped
1 tsp dry oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp oil
salt, to taste.

Heat the oil and add the cumin & oregano.
Add the leeks and cook till they soften (4-5 minutes).
Add the beans. With the back of a spoon mash most of the beans, leaving some intact.
Add the greens and mix well.
Cook for about 10 minutes.

Assemble the pie
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Lightly grease a 13x9 baking pan. Arrange the polenta in a single layer.
Spread the bean & green mixture over the polenta.
Top with a couple of cups of shredded cheese (sharp cheddar is recommended).
Bake for about 10-15 minutes.

Before serving top with salsa and chopped cilantro.

Sending this pie to DK's A.W.E.D: Mexican Food event.
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