Who is the Savvy Scribe?

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I am a single mom, a full time student, working to make a better life for my daughter and myself. I am sarcastic and opinionated and refuse to sensor myself. I am a liberal, gun owner, and a sports fanatic.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hearty Vegan Tamale Pie

For Halloween last week we had a pot-luck at work. It's an annual tradition and as we started discussing what each person was making I started thinking about my friend, S. S is vegan and at most work luncheons ends up either buying/bringing her own lunch or munching vegetable sticks.  It's Autumn in Oregon and usually a damp and blustery time of year. So I decided I would stretch my culinary wings a bit and invent a delicious vegan casserole.  I'm unsure why, but I immediately knew I was going for a Mexican style and started inventing the dish in my mind. 
As I added ingredients in my mind the casserole became a version of an old family favorite, Tamale Pie.
It was a huge success, among carnivores and vegans alike. I received many requests for the recipe so I have decided to share it with the masses. To my knowledge, this is not a reproduction of any other recipe and is entirely my creation.  I have also included modifications to this dish for those who, like myself, enjoy animal-based protein products :-)

Vegan Tamale Pie
You will need:
1 lg. can black beans (not drained)
1 lg. can crushed or diced tomatoes (not drained)
1 reg. can pinto beans (drained)
1 reg. can whole corn kernels (drain and save liquid)
2 sm. cans sliced olives
1 tbsp. mild chili powder
1-3 tsp hot sauce (how spicy do you like it?)
1 med. yellow onion (diced to taste, I like a fine chop)
2 tbsp. olive oil

4 c. mushroom broth
1 c. liquid drained from corn
3 c. corn meal or dried polenta

Preheat oven to 350 deg. Thoroughly grease 2- 8x8 glass pans
In large non-stick skillet heat 2 tbsp. olive oil, add onion and sauté till translucent and starting to turn golden brown. While onion is cooking mix beans, tomatoes, corn, refried beans and olives. Stir thoroughly. Add hot sauce and chili powder. When all ingredients are blended add to pan with onions and simmer on low heat while mixing crust.

In large (preferably non-stick) pot add 3 c. of cornmeal to 5 c. liquid (stock and liquid from draining corn and beans) It is important to put liquid in pot first and add cornmeal or polenta, stirring with whisk. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture becomes completely solid, like a dough. separate evenly into 4 parts. let cool slightly and add 1/4 to each 8x8 pre-greased pan.  With scraper or the back of a large spoon spread out cornmeal dough in pan so it evenly covers bottom and sides of dish. Do this to both dishes and then fill each dish to just below level with tops of pan. 

On a large cutting board lay out 1 sheet of wax paper. Lightly dust with flour. Drop another 1/4 of cornmeal dough onto wax paper, cover with additional sheet of wax paper (or parchment paper) and press out gently, you can use a large plastic cup or rolling pin to roll dough out evenly and measure to just over 8"x 8". remove top layer of wax paper, flip dough side down on top of casserole and carefully peel wax paper off of the top of the casserole.  Repeat process to top 2nd casserole. Bake both in oven at 350 degree for about 30 min or until top is lightly browned and casserole is bubbling. 
This is a perfect "freeze for later" casserole too, you can make these ahead of time and freeze them, transfer to fridge in the a.m. to thaw and throw in the oven when you're ready for dinner. 

Additions, substitutions, non-vegan variation and alternate uses for filling.

Whole tomatoes, chopped bell peppers and just about any other variety of canned bean can be used in this dish. Or you can cook your beans the slow way if you've got a ton of dried beans in the cupboard. 

Simple variation to make this dish non-vegan: scramble 1 lb. hamburger in onion before adding filling to pan to simmer. Top with shredded cheese for the last 5-10 min of baking. Serve with sour cream, om nom nom. 

I have also used the filling in tostada bowls, layering with scrambled beef, shredded lettuce, cheese and sour cream. 


  1. I do not love to cook, but this sounds yummy. I will think about it. I am tempted.

    While I am being tempted?

    Would like to say how very much I like the fall-leaf background you have going on today. Very Oregon. Love that.


  2. Thanks Kris. I've been farting around with the blog template. This one seemed just right for the week. I'm working on uploading a picture off my laptop for the background, but all of them seem too big. Thanks for stopping by. Come again soon.

  3. This sounds delicious! Thanks for showing your recipes:) I was vegan at one point in time and I never had so much energy in all my life:) I'm going to follow you now:) NIce meeting you! Hanna from bouffe e bambini

  4. Thanks for following Hanna. I hope you like this one!