Tamales have a special place in my heart. I didn’t grow up eating tamales but as soon as I made them for the first time a few years ago, they soon became a favorite comfort food. Tamales do take some planning and a few hours to make the filling, sauce, and assembling them. It is definitely worth the effort and time to make traditional tamales, but what if could you could have a tamal without all that work? This Zucchini Corn Tamal Casserole is the perfect option to make for when you get a tamal craving, but you don’t feel like making individual tamales.
While reading Mexico One Plate at a Time by Rick Bayless, I came across a recipe for casserole style tamal that was steamed on the stove just like regular tamales. A casserole and tamales all in one? Two of my favorite things. I was very intrigued by the idea of steaming one large tamal in a cake pan. You steam the tamal casserole the same way that you would steam tamales that are wrapped up in corn husks. I just had to make a vegan inspired tamal casserole. I used zucchini and corn since they are still in season right now along with a little roasted poblano for a little spice. I have also made it with diced jalapeños instead of the roasted poblanos; both versions are tasty!
I use the same steamer that I would if I was steaming a big batch of tamales. Instead of forming the tamales in corn husks, the tamal batter goes in to a cake pan. My cake pan fit exactly inside the steamer. Set the steamer up exactly as you for steaming tamales in corn husks. It’s that easy!
The tamal casserole will need at least 1 1/2 hours to steam. Mine took around 2 hours to steam. If you have a steamer where the distance of the water to pan is short, like a bamboo steamer, it won’t take as long as if you are using a larger steamer pot. Check the casserole after it has been steaming for 1 1/2 hours. The tamal will continue to set as it cools. You’re looking for the top to not be liquidly. When you press your finger it shouldn’t sink down. You want to let the tamal casserole cool for at least 20-30 minutes before slicing.
I like to slice the casserole just like a pie. This Zucchini Corn Tamal Casserole is definitely on the filling side and make a delicious main course. For serving, I like to serve with salsa and some chopped cilantro.
I hope that you enjoy this Zucchini Corn Tamal Casserole as much as we did! If you make it, let me know in the comments or on Instagram @thymeandlove!
- 1¾ Cup Masa Harina
- 1 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Hot Water
- ¼ Cup Vegetable Shortening, room temperature
- ¼ Cup Vegan Butter, room temperature
- ¾ Tsp Baking Powder
- 1 Tsp Salt
- ¼ Cup Vegetable Broth
- 2 Medium Zucchini, trimmed and grated
- 1 Cup Fresh Corn
- ½ Cup Green Onions, the green part only sliced
- 1-2 Roasted Poblano Peppers, seeded and diced*
- Chopped Cilantro
- In a small bowl, add the masa harina and reconstitute it by pouring the hot water over top. Mix together. Add a splash or two more water if the masa is too dry.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the shortening and butter along with the baking powder and salt. Using a hand mixer beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Continue mixing and add the reconstituted masa to the bowl in 3 additions. After all the masa has been incorporated pour in the vegetable broth and mix. After this point I like to use a rubber spatula and then add in the shredded zucchini, corn, sliced green onions, and roasted peppers. Stir just until throughly mixed together.
- Set up the steamer with water. Find a pan or casserole dish that will fit exactly in your steamer. I found that a cake pan worked perfectly. Pour the prepared batter into the pan and place in the steamer pot. Cover the top of the pan with parchment paper then place the steamer lid tightly on top. Steam at a constant simmer over medium heat. Check the water level once in awhile. If you run out of water, pour more boiling water into the steamer.
- Cook for 1½ hours. Check to see if the top of casserole is firm. If it is still a little moist cook for another 20- 30 minutes, or until done. It'll continue to firm up as it cools.
- Once the casserole is done turn off the heat and let cool for at least 20-30 minutes.
- Slice and serve with salsa and chopped cilantro, if using.
Recipe adapted from Rick Bayless.