Vegetarian Tamales | PCC Natural Markets

Vegetarian Tamales

Yield: 10 medium-size tamales

Your rating: None (24 votes)

These ingredients are:
vegetarian iconVegetarian egg-free iconEgg-free gluten-free iconGluten-free peanut-free iconPeanut-free soy-free iconSoy-free wheat-free iconWheat-free

Tamales are masa-filled, leaf-wrapped, steamed packages with various fillings. They traditionally are wrapped in banana leaves or corn husks and have lard beaten into the dough for taste and fluffiness. Here we use corn husks or parchment paper and virgin coconut oil. Tamales can be refrigerated or frozen after steaming. Reheat frozen tamales by steaming them for 20 to 25 minutes.


For the dough

For the filling

  • 1/2 white or red onion, chopped Add to list
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced Add to list
  • 1/2 jalapeño pepper, minced (remove seeds if you like) Add to list
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin Add to list
  • 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil Add to list
  • 1 cup cooked beans, such as black, pinto, red, kidney, etc. Add to list
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice Add to list
  • 1/2 teaspoon unrefined salt Add to list
  • 2 5-ounce bags baby spinach or other greens, or use 1 10-ounce frozen bag of spinach Add to list
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (optional) Add to list
  • 1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (optional) Add to list
  • 8 to 10 corn husks or parchment paper squares (about 7x7 inches) Add to list


To make the dough

In a small saucepan heat the broth and water until warm. In a mixing bowl, combine masa flour, baking powder, salt, oregano, salsa, lime juice and coconut oil or butter. Mix with your fingers until crumbly. Pour in the warm liquid little by little while stirring with a wooden spoon. Mix until all the liquid has been incorporated. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator.

To make the filling

In a skillet over medium heat, sauté onion, garlic, jalapeño and cumin in coconut oil until soft, about 10 minutes. Add beans, lime juice and salt; cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in the spinach; let cool. Before assembling, add the chopped cilantro and grated cheese.

To make the tamales

If using corn husks, soak them in a large bowl of hot water for a few minutes to make them pliable. Place 1/3 cup dough on a soaked corn husk or parchment paper square. With a spatula or your fingers, spread the dough evenly onto the corn husk or paper to make a 5- by 5-inch square. Place 2 tablespoons of the filling in the center and fold the dough to cover the filling. Roll up the corn husk or parchment to enclose the tamale. Repeat until all the dough and filling have been used.

In a steamer with plenty of water, arrange the tamales so steam can pass around them. Cover and let steam for 30 minutes; check the water and add more if low. Steam for another 20 to 30 minutes. The tamales are done when the dough pulls away from the parchment paper. Remove the tamales from the steam and let them sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.


Use a variety of ingredients for the filling, adding or substituting the following: fresh herbs, oregano, coriander, chile peppers, fresh red or green bell peppers, corn, squash, tomatoes, mushrooms, pine nuts, baked marinated tofu, tempeh, cooked pork, beef or chicken.

Recipe by Birgitte Antonsen, PCC Cooks instructor

Source: Demonstrated at the 2011 Taste PCC event

More about: coconut oil, cornmeal, greens, spinach


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You're recipe looks delicious and I will use it with some minor changes (I don't have the spinach on hand and I wasn't planning on using beans, although I might). But why not use the traditional corn husks? They are readily available, inexpensive and it doesn't seem any harder than using parchment paper. Just curious... Thanks!


Thanks for your comment.

Up until a few weeks ago, we had not found a source of non-GMO corn husks, so we recommended using parchment paper instead.

We now have the Los Chileros brand of corn husks in some of our stores (or you can special order them), which work really well. Just soak them in hot water to make them pliable before filling.

Thanks again,

Tom Monahan
PCC Natural Markets

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