One of my childhood’s favorite comfort foods was the Tamale Pie my Grannie would make when she visited.
I hankered for the rich tomato-bean filling and the creamy-crusty cheese-and-cornmeal topping for many years before I found this wonderful vegetarian version that satisfied my cravings completely.
Lots of fiber, folic acid (a key cancer-fighter), isoflavonoids, lycopene, and calcium make this one fabulously healthful comfort food!
2 cups dry pinto or kidney beans
Vegetable stock or water
1 tablespoon cumin
1 1/4 cups cornmeal
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock or water
1 teaspoon Bragg’s or tamari
1 teaspoon chili powder
Herbs to taste: cumin, basil, oregano, dill, thyme
2 cups chopped vegetables (celery, bell peppers, greens–whatever you like)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup grated cheese
1. Cover beans with water and soak overnight. Drain and cover with vegetable stock or fresh water. Add 1 tablespoon cumin and simmer 2 1/4 hours or until tender.
2. Meanwhile, mix cornmeal, stock, Bragg’s and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir continuously until mixture thickens and all the liquid is absorbed (about 10-15 minutes). Press mixture into sides and bottom of a buttered 9×13-inch baking dish at least 1 1/2 inches deep, saving one-fourth of the amount to drop of spread on top later.
3. In a separate pan, combine cooked beans (which can be mashed with a potato masher, leaving some whole) with other ingredients except cheese. Cook over medium heat until vegetables are almost cooked. Pour into baking pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle grated cheese on top and spoon on remaining cornmeal mixture.
4. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes.