This Vegetarian Tamale Pie is a deliciously Mexican flavored vegetarian chili topped with a buttermilk cornbread crust, all topped with some shredded Cheddar cheese and broiled to melty perfection.
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I like to have recipes like this one up my sleeve for when I’m cupboard cooking. You know, when you haven’t really planned dinner but you want something tasty. So you look in the cupboard for something.
This is a nice flexible recipe.
Oops, forgot to get kidney beans? No problem, use a can of black beans or white beans.
Out of canned tomatoes? Use a ½ cup of salsa. Or try fresh chopped garden tomatoes.
No garlic in the house? Use garlic powder. I typically use ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder in place of each clove of garlic. You can also use garlic salt, about ½ teaspoon of garlic salt in place of each clove (though it will make the filling saltier).
Other veggies could be added to this filling, like chopped mushrooms, green onions, corn, chopped jalapenos, cooked spinach, get creative with this tamale pie.
What to do with leftover buttermilk
You can store leftover buttermilk in the freezer.
Pour the buttermilk into ice cube trays. Once they’re frozen, pop them into a zip top bag and keep them in the freezer until you’re ready to use them.
Simply defrost them in the microwave.
Looking for other great ways to use that leftover buttermilk (besides this recipe?). Try some Skillet Buttermilk Biscuits, Parmesan Garlic Buttermilk Biscuits, Blackberry Pie with Buttermilk Sherbet, Buttermilk Herb Sauce, Buttermilk Banana Bread, or Carrot Cake with Buttermilk Glaze.
I typically like to cut veggies to the size of the main ingredient in the dish. In this case, the kidney beans would be the main ingredient, so I’ll chop the onions and the red peppers to kidney bean size or smaller.
The 16-ounce ramekins will provide nice individual servings as well as lots of room in the ramekin so the filling doesn’t bubble up and over the sides and out into the oven making a mess.
Serve these delicious individual servings with a nice green salad, some Cilantro Lime Rice, and homemade guacamole for a full and fun Mexican dinner.
Kitchen items you may need for this recipe
Note: this section includes affiliate links
Glass mixing bowls
Counter top oven
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Vegetarian Tamale Pie
- 2 teaspoons olive or vegetable oil
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1 garlic clove minced or pressed
- 15 ounce can red kidney beans drained, rinsed, and slightly mashed
- 14.5 ounce can Diced tomatoes with Italian herbs undrained
- ¼ cup sliced black olives
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 ounces & ¼ ounces uncooked yellow cornmeal (approx. 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons olive or vegetable oil
- pinch salt
- 2 ounces cheddar cheese shredded (approx. ¾ cup)
- In a 10-inch skillet heat 2 teaspoons oil, add onion, red pepper, and garlic, and saute over medium-high heat until vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, olives, chili powder, and cilantro, and cook stirring frequently, about 3-5 minutes.
- Spray four 16-ounce ovenproof ramekins with nonstick cooking spray; spoon ¼ of the bean filling into each ramekin, and set aside.
Make cornbread crust and assemble
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- In a medium mixing bowl combine cornmeal, flour, and baking soda, and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat together with a whisk, the buttermilk, egg, 2 teaspoons oil, and a pinch of salt. Stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing well. Pour ¼ of the cornmeal mixture over each portion of the bean filling, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes (until a knife inserted into the cornmeal mixture comes out clean).
- Sprinkle each serving with ¼ of the shredded Cheddar cheese. Turn the oven to broil, and broil tamale pies until cheese is melted and lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve hot, garnished with additional cilantro if desired.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations, and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.
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I’m making this tonight! It looks fabulous!