Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mexican Tamale Pies

Tonight I made Mexican tamale pies again.  I made these before, maybe a few months ago, and I loved them.  They are so healthy and low-fat, but full of flavor.  I also like that everyone gets their own little pie in a ramekin - perfect portion control (even if Mark ate two :) It was okay because I made 10 pies anyway... you know me and doubling). 

They are basically similar to a vegetarian chili (made with corn, zucchini, tomatoes and beans), topped with polenta.  And if you haven't made polenta before, you need to.  It's really fun to stir cornmeal and water and salt together and all of a sudden go from a soupy watery thing to a thick mushy paste!  Yes that is probably the most fun I had all day.... it's been a rough week!

The only downside is that they do take a while; you have to simmer the filling for 40 minutes to let it thicken enough, and then the pies bake for 45 more minutes.  I realize that an hour and a half is probably not an insanely huge amount of time to spend on dinner, but on a rainy, sleepy Tuesday when everyone comes home from work at 5:00 starving, it did feel like a while!  I think it is a miracle that Mark ate two since he snacked throughout the whole cooking experience :)

With that said, you should probably try these pies.  They are really not that much work; you just toss everything into a pan and let it sit, then make pies and bake.  Plus they are delicious.  I am pretty happy that I have about 4 pies leftover, so I guess work is covered for the rest of the week!

Mexican Tamale Pies
from chocolatecoveredkatie
(makes 4-5 pies)

1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 small zucchini, cut into tiny pieces
1  1 3/4 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 teaspoon onion
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
for the polenta topping: 1 cup cornmeal, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 2/3 cups water.

1) Combine first 8 ingredients in a small pot and cook on low-medium for 40 minutes, stirring very occasionally as it bubbles. 

2) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Meanwhile, combine all other ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. As soon as it starts to boil, lower the heat to a simmer and stir constantly until it thickens.

3)  Portion the bean mixture into oven-proof dishes. Top with polenta, smooth the tops, and bake 45 minutes. You can broil for a few minutes at the end if you wish.

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