Mexican is quickly becoming one of our favorite styles for cooking. Somehow various combinations of beans, tomatoes, peppers, and cheese never seem to get old! We’ve recently upped our game and started trying to cook dried beans. While it requires a little advanced planning (the gene for which we both naturally lack), we found the sacrifice is worth the taste!
We loved these tamale pies as a new way to experience Latin flavors outside of a quesadilla. They might be one of my favorite Mexican inspired recipes we’ve made yet, especially since they comes in their own personal dish! (If you don’t have au gratin dishes, any small oven safe dish will do.)
This recipe is very easy to throw together if you use prepared polenta and canned beans, but it’s just as fun to make your own from “scratch” – and tastes better too! (If you’re Indy-based, check out this local source for cornmeal and dried beans.) It’s a great option for dinner guests that’s impressive, but not too labor intensive.
Vegetable Tamale Pies
What You Need
6 au gratin or small oven proof dishes (or one 9 x 9 baking dish)
1 cup cornmeal for polenta (or prepared polenta, about two 18 ounce tubes)
3 cups pinto beans, cooked (or canned)
1 cup frozen corn
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups salsa
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend (or a mix of Monterrey jack and cheddar)
Sour cream to serve
Note: If you have time, we recommend cooking the beans from dry beans – it greatly enhances the flavor and texture!
What To Do
1 Make the polenta. When it is done, spread a layer evenly in the bottom of each dish. For a firm polenta as the base layer, prepare the polenta in advance and refrigerate for 1 hour or more prior to baking.
2 Preheat the oven to 350°F.
3 Chop the cilantro. Drain the can of diced tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups salsa to remove excess liquid. If using canned beans, drain and rinse the beans.
4 In large bowl, coarsely mash the beans with a fork. Add 1 cup corn, tomatoes, salsa, 2 teaspoons cumin, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 cup cilantro. Mix to combine.
5 Spoon the bean mixture on top of the polenta. Top each dish with cheese and remaining cilantro.
6 Bake for 20 minutes until heated through. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before serving. Top with sour cream to serve.