First I’ll post the recipe I found, and then I’ll tell you what I did instead because I’m too cheap and too lazy to go out and buy the proper ingredients.

Tamale Pie (Vegetarian)


  • 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.
Serves 6-8.


Tamale Pie (Vegetarian) – Easy version

  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 can Southwestern black beans with cumin and chili spices, mostly drained
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 Tbs olive oil flavored with garlic
  • 1 Tbs (little less that that, actually) cumin
  • 1 1/4 cup masa harina (I have cornmeal, but I also have a bag of masa harina tamale mix, so I used that)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tsp vegetarian vegetable boullion
  • 1/4 cup mild salsa (would have used more, but Charlie can’t eat spicy stuff)
  • 2 cups grated Mexican mix cheese

Heat oil in saucepan. Add cumin and cook, stirring, until cumin smells nice and toasty. Add water, boullion and cornmeal. Cook until thick. Reserve one-fourth of it. Spread the rest of it onto bottom of oiled 9 x 13-inch baking dish and work it all over the bottom and up the sides. Clean pot. Empty all beans and the salsa into pot and stir to mix and warm. Spread beans over cornmeal. Spread the cheese over the top and dot with reserved cornmeal mixture. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes.


I’m not saying the original version wouldn’t be good–I bet it would be terrific. In fact, come summer, I’ll probably make a variation that includes fresh tomatoes and maybe summer squash.

Enjoy what you cook, and cook what you enjoy.


writing prompt: What would one of your omnivorous characters cook for a vegetarian?