Vegan Tamale Pie — made with tempeh and salsa verde, which is baked in a cornmeal crust — is a fun dish to get you out of your dinner rut. This easy recipe is vegan with a gluten-free option.
Vegan Tamale Pie
This tempeh table pie is a vegan adaptation of a chicken tamale casserole recipe I saw in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine years ago. I had never had tamale casserole, but it looked like a tasty dish. So I headed into the kitchen to make it meat-free. I had originally created my version to celebrate Pie Day, waaaaaay back in 2013.
What is Tamale Pie?
Most tamale pie recipes don’t resemble the corn husk wrapped tamales they’re named for. And they aren’t even pies! It’s actually a casserole dish that’s popular in the southwest, and it usually consists of ground beef covered in a cornbread topping that’s covered in enchilada sauce. Sometimes chicken as used as the meat.
Most ground beef recipes call use a red sauce, many chicken tamale pie recipes use green salsa verde.
Happy Pi Day! Yes, Pi Day (3.14) is almost here. In 2009 the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution naming March 14th as Pi Day. While I can’t really see people decking their houses in π symbols or gathering around a pi tree to solve math problems, I do think that eating pie is an appropriate way to celebrate this “holiday”.
What is Tempeh?
Tempeh is a fermented soybean cake that originated in Indonesia. Because it’s fermented, it can have discolored spots that almost look moldy. It’s perfectly safe to eat, though. It can usually be found in the same area of the grocery store as tofu, which is usually the produce are or the refrigerated section. The two brands I usually buy are Lightlife and Soy Boy.
Health coaching clients have told me that they don’t really like tempeh, because it tastes a too fermented. To get rid of that fermented taste, you can steam it or simmer it a bath of broth for about half an hour before using it in your recipe.
Tempeh can sometimes be made with added grains. If you follow a gluten-free diet, make sure your tempeh is gluten-free.
How to Make Vegan Tamale Pie
This recipe is easy to make!
- First you mix together the marinade ingredients and allow the tempeh to marinate for an hour or two.
- Then you cook the the tempeh slices in the leftover marinade. If they being to stick, you just add a little more marinade to the pan.
- Next you boil the water and whisk the cornmeal into it. You add the creamed corn*, and cook for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick and bubbly.
- In a small casserole dish, you mix together the tempeh, salsa verde, and olives. Your pour the cornmeal mixture over the tempeh.
- Top your casserole with sliced tomato, chopped parsley, and scallions. Then you bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until it’s heated throughout.
*Creamed corn isn’t actually made with cream. It’s vegan!
How to Customize Your Vegan Tamale Pie
You can easily make this recipe your own!
- You can use red salsa instead of salsa verde.
- If you don’t like tempeh, you can use a 14 ounce package of tofu. Make sure you drain and press it and then slice it thinly. Or you can use sliced seitan.
- Sautéed peppers can be added to the filling to add more veggies to your casserole.
- You can top your tamale pie with Cashew Cheese Sauce or non-dairy cheese shreds, to make it more like the traditional omni version, if you like.
Tempeh Tamale Pie
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup tamari
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 16 ounces temeph thinly sliced
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1 14-ounce can creamed corn (creamed corn is vegan)
- 1 16-ounce jar salsa verde
- 1/3 cup olives chopped
- 1 tomato thinly sliced
- sliced scallions and/or chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
- Place the tempeh strips in a shallow dish. Mix together the stock, vinegar, tamari and thyme, and pour it over the tempeh. Let marinade for an hour or two.
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- Heat a large pan or skillet over medium high heat. Add a tablespoon or two of the tempeh marinade, and then add the tempeh. Cook for several minutes, flipping the pieces frequently, until the pieces have crisp brown edges.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce heat and cook for about three minutes, whisking continually. Add the creamed corn and continue to whisk everything together. Cook for about 10 more minutes, stirring frequently.
- In a medium baking dish, combine the salsa, olives and tempeh. Spoon the cornmeal over the mixture and top with tomatoes, scallions and parsley, if using.
- Bake uncovered for 20 – 25 minutes, until the mixture is bubbly and hot.
More recipes made with tempeh include:
- Lemon-Dijon Tempeh and Mushrooms
- Broccoli and Tempeh with Spicy Peanut Sauce
- Tempeh Marsala
- Coconut Tempeh with Pineapple Salsa
Other recipes for Pi Day include:
- Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower-Millet Mash Crust
- Greens Pie with Millet Amaranth Crust
- Caramelized Mushroom and Onion Tart
- Chickpea Pot Pie