Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Tamales

Every morning, as I walk to the subway, I walk by this little old woman selling fresh tamales from a big pot on a cart. It’s a very small set-up, most likely illegal. She is there every morning though, rain or shine. I am sure they taste amazing, and I always wish I could sample her goods.

I have been toying with making my own tamales for a while. I bought some dried corn husks a while back. Had been debating the filling for while. Finally came up with a plan. Very happy with the results and I will definitely make again. Tamales can be frozen and reheated in the microwave or steamer.

Vegetarian Tamales

Dried Corn Husks

1 tbsp. oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large zucchini, diced
1 can black beans
1/2 small can chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, chopped
1/2 package of mushrooms, chopped
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. salt
chopped cilantro
1/2 cup broth
1 cup shredded cheese

Masa Tamale Dough:
2 cups masa harina
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 stick of Earth Balance shortening

Start by checking the corn husks. Check for bugs. My package didn’t have any, but these still should be checked. There was corn debris. Just what looks like dried strands of the corn silk. Brush off any shmutz on the corn husks. Soak them in a large bowl of warm water for at least 30 minutes.


While the husks are soaking, you can prepare the rest of the components.

In  a large pan, saute the onion and the garlic in the oil. Add in the spices.

Mix in the zucchini and the mushrooms. Saute for around 5 minutes, or until soft. Stir in the chipotle pepper and the black beans.  Add the vegetable broth if the filling starts to look too dry. Turn off the heat and mix in the cheese. Set aside.


Now it’s time to prepare the the masa dough. Measure out the masa, the spices and the baking powder in to the bowl of a mixer. With the mixer going on low, pour in the vegetable broth.  Mix to form in to crumbly paste.  Add in the shortening. Mix for a minute or so. Everything should be incorporated. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.


Now it’s time to assemble.

Set yourself up with everything nearby.

Set up your steamer station. I didn’t have a steamer that fit my dairy stock pot for this, so I used a metal colander. Place water at the bottom of the pot and bring to a boil. Turn it to medium.

Make strips out of a few of your corn husks. These will be your tamale ties.


Lay out a corn husk and spread some masa dough down the center.

Place about a tablespoon or two of your filling in the center of your dough.


Roll up the corn husk like a burrito: Fold the bottom side up, and the sides in. Then tie it up.


Place upright in your steamer set-up.


Steam on medium/medium-high for around 90 minutes. Check your water levels throughout.

When done, the masa dough will be firm.

Remove tamales from steamer.  They will be extremely hot. Be careful when opening.


Serve with some salsa and sour cream. Or eat it just straight out of the package. These are great as a meal or a snack even! Enjoy!

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