Pastel de tamal (vegetariano)

My wife was craving pupusas a couple of weeks ago, so I bought some cornmeal, which happens to come in a huge package.  That can be a good thing, because you don’t want it to go to waste and end up making lots of recipes.  Last night I modified this recipe from the TheLatinKitchen to be vegetarian.  


I love tamales, but didn’t want to be making individual tamales, so I decided to go the pastel, or cake route.  In Panama, where my wife is from they usually go the banana leaf route, but I lined the baking dish with corn husks in this one.  The cornmeal is very also very different  than the corn they use in Panama for their famous Tamal de olla.  The corn they use they call maís nuevo, and we have not been able to find it in Pittsburgh, but it has a distinct sweet flavor.  That being said, even though this wasn’t the Panamanian style, it turned out very delicious.  


Here is the recipe:


For the masa:


3 cups corn meal (I used Maseca)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups warm water

1 cup vegetable shortening, cold

¼ cup butter, cold

1 cup cold vegetable broth


For the filling:


16 oz of Crimini mushrooms chopped

½ onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 can chipotle in adobo sauce, chilis seeded and chopped

1 Tsp tomato paste

Olive oil

Fresh parsley

Salt and Pepper




Filling – make ahead of time.  Saute onions in oil until translucent.  Add tomato paste and garlic and cook for a few minutes.  Add mushrooms, cover and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add chilies and sauce, cook about another 5 minutes.  Season.  


Mix dry ingredients with warm water.  Whip up the cold butter and shortening until creamy.  Beat the dry mix into the shortening about a ¼ cup at a time until integrated. Beat in the Vegetable broth.  


Line a lasagna pan with corn husks.  Scoop half the masa onto them, smoothing it out.  Add the filling and then top with the other half of the masa.  Put corn husks on top.  Cover the whole thing with aluminum foil, and bake at 350 for about an hour.  


This one turned out pretty good.  Next time I might go for it and make actual tamales instead of the pastel.  

Do you know of any good vegetarian tamal recipes?  I’d love to hear them.  


Best wishes,



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