The turkey black bean chili lasted for days. When I had about two portions left, I decided to make tamale pie; besides, I still had cornbread to make, too, in some form or another. 😉 My husband and I decided to invite friends over to join us for dinner. I kept with the idea of tamale pie but decided to make it bigger to ensure there would be enough for everyone, so I added more vegetables! Since this was so much more food, I decided make something more akin to a casserole rather than a deep-dish pie. It’s a good thing I did, too; all of the ingredients fit perfectly in my 2.5-quart baking dish. I also asked our guests to bring a salad to accompany the pie, so they decided to extend the food theme by making the salad with peppers, corn and avocado. After dinner I brought out fresh chilled cherries, which I had recently picked, for dessert. This meal was a big hit with many smiles and happy bellies.

Tamale Pie Adapted from Golden Cornbread and Tamale Pie
I recommend preparing ingredients ahead of time, so when you are ready to make the pie, you can just layer everything in the dish and pop it into the oven.
Serves 10 to 12

Crust Ingredients
1 T Chia Seed, ground or whole
3 T Filtered Water
1 + 1/2 C Unsweetened Almond Breeze or Non-Dairy Milk Alternative
1/4 Nana Mae’s Smooth Apple Sauce
1 C Gluten-Free Biscuit Mix
1 C Coarse Cornmeal
1/2 tsp Himalayan Sea Salt, ground fine
1 T Sucanat, ground fine
1 tsp Turbinado Sugar, ground fine
2 T Earth Balance Spread with Olive Oil, melted
1/4 Fresh Cilantro Leaves, finely chopped*

Directions
Combine the chia, water, 1 cup of milk, and apple sauce with a fork in a 1-liter (or bigger) mixing bowl. Set the mixture aside for 20 minutes, stirring again after 10 and 20 minutes. Thoroughly mix together the cornmeal, baking mix, salt, and sugars in a medium mixing bowl. After the seeds are plump and saturated, stir in the Earth Balance. Don’t worry about the spread floating back up to the top. Pour the wet mixture into the dry. The two mixtures will be difficult to incorporate together and seem rather dry. Gradually stir in about half a cup (that’s only an estimate!) of additional milk into the dough one tablespoon at a time to ease stirring. (The additional liquid may be needed due to the gluten-free dough’s stickiness from the inclusion of xanthan gum in the baking mix.) Once the dough becomes easier to work with, fold in the cilantro. Cover the dough to preserve the moisture. Set aside.

*If you do only have dried cilantro, soak it in a small bowl with a cup of filtered water for 20 to 30 minutes. Mix and press the leaves into the water occasionally to make sure all of the leaves become saturated. Add extra water if needed. The cilantro is ready to use when all of the leaves are pliable and dark in color. At this point drain the excess water and treat the leaves like fresh cilantro.

Filling Ingredients
1 1/2 – 2 C Turkey Black Bean Chili
3/4 – 1 C Medium or Mild Salsa Verde
14.5 oz Can Pinto Beans, drained, tender-cooked in water
3 Medium All-Natural Mild Italian Sausage, removed from casings, browned
1 tsp Ground Cumin Seeds
1 C Golden Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1/2 Large Bell Pepper, cored, seeded, chopped
1 Avocado, skinned, pitted, chopped
2 Large Tomatillos, shucked, chopped
1/2 Bunch Kale, stemmed, torn into bite-size pieces
3 Large Garlic Cloves, peeled, chopped
3 Scallions, trimmed, thinly sliced
3.8 oz Can Lindsay Naturals Sliced Black Olives, drained
3 oz Daiya Vegan Mozzarella-Style Shredded Cheese
OR 3 oz Daiya Vegan Pepper Jack-Style Shredded Cheese
16 oz pkg Frozen Peas, Corn, Green Beans & Carrots, defrosted, cut into 1″ pieces

Directions
If you are preparing the ingredients ahead of time, combine the chili, a half-cup of salsa, beans with water, sausage and cumin in a sealable 6-cup storage container once the beans and meat are cool.

In a separate lidded container that holds at least 4 cups, mix the tomatoes, tomatillos, bell pepper, avocado,  kale, garlic, cheese, onions, olives, and one half-cup of salsa; I just dumped all of the veggies and cheese in, put the lid on, and gave the container a few vigorous shakes. Set this aside these mixtures aside in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. To assemble the casserole, layer the filling ingredients into the casserole dish in the following order: mixed thawed vegetables on the bottom, meat and beans in the middle, veggies and cheese mixture on top. Over the last filling layer, spread the crust evenly with a rubber spatula. Do not cover the dish. Place the baking dish on a foil-lined cookie sheet to catch liquid that boils over. Bake the pie for 30 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned on top. It’s done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out free of crumbs. Cut the crust into slices before you serve the pie, which makes serving individual portions easier.

Southwest Salad**
You can prepare the salad ingredients in advance and chill them in the refrigerator to save time and meld the flavors together more; when you’re ready, just arrange the ingredients as you like in your serving bowl.
Serves 10 to 12

Grilled Salad Ingredients
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Orange Bell Pepper
1 Green Bell Pepper
1 Gypsy Sweet Pepper or Other Mild Wax Pepper
1 Medium White Onion, peeled, trimmed
1 Ears White Sweet Corn, husks and silk removed
1 – 1 1/2 C Chopped Tomato, seeded, chopped optional
3.8 oz Canned Lindsay Naturals Sliced Black Olives, drained
3 Small Avocados, skinned, pitted, chopped

Green Salad Ingredients
1 Head Romain, torn into bite-size pieces
1/4 + 1/4 C Fresh Cilantro Leaves
1 Small Avocado, skinned, pitted, sliced
1 + 1 Limes
Salsa Verde, optional dressing
Salsa Fresca, optional dressing
Non-Dairy Sour Cream or Plain Greek Yogurt, optional garnish
Cilantro Sprigs, optional garnish

**My amounts may be off, since I only helped make the salad. Please adjust the proportions and flavors according to your tastes. There may be a light amount of oil and vinegar mixed into the grilled salad mixture; you can use these to dress the salad and brighten to the flavor profile.

Directions
Preheat the barbeque grill. Oil the grilling vegetables. Cook the peppers, onion and corn for 5 minutes per side, turning them with barbeque tongs half way through. (Cook them about 10 minutes total.) Set aside the vegetables until they are cool enough to handle. Core and seed the peppers, and chop the them with the onion. Kernel the corn, and discard the cobs. Place the grilled veggies in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.

Place the romain in a large salad bowl. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of cilantro on top of the lettuce. Arrange the sliced avocado like they are radiating out from the center of the bowl. Squeeze a lime over the avocado slices to prevent oxidation. Set aside.

Combine the tomatoes, olives, chopped avocado, 1/4 cup of cilantro and remaining lime juice with the grilled vegetable in the mixing bowl. To assemble the salad, scoop the grilled salad mixture onto the middle of the green salad. Toss the salads together if you like or leave it as described. Serve the big salad at the table family style with the garnishes of cilantro, salsa and sour cream.

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