Friday, February 17, 2017

Tamale Pie (Vegetarian Version)

I ran out of ideas for finishing off the package of tortillas from the tortilla soup.  The package has been in the freezer off and on since October.  Last time I buy 30 corn tortillas without a plan.  I can snack on flour tortillas without even putting anything on them, but am not so fond of the corn ones.

Revisiting an older recipe, I didn't really feel like ground beef and bought some black beans instead.  I've been trending vegetarian lately.  Maybe I just don't feel like cooking meat right now.  Maybe I still don't feel like chewing meat.  Anyway, I decided to substitute the five remaining corn tortillas for the bottom crust of the tamale pie and top it with the polenta mix.

I know, you're going to look at this recipe and say "really, eggplant again?", but I ended up liking the result.  You hardly taste it, and it gives the casserole a buttery texture, as though the cheese ran all the way through it.  If you really can't stand eggplant, substitute zucchini or yellow squash to get the same texture and similar nutritional value.

I do confess, I've been watching My 600-lb Life, and I was thinking of how this would work in a diet.  It really isn't that bad.  The cornmeal and tortillas run you around 200 calories per serving, but everything else combined is only about another 250-300.  For what looks like a decadent Tex-Mex meal, this is a well-rounded dish that won't break your diet.  It's low fat, high fiber, high iron, and has a reasonable amount of salt.

1 C dry black beans
1 medium eggplant
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
*1/2 C diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
*1 C Mexican-style shredded cheese
*3/4 C cornmeal
1 C milk
1-1/2 C water
1/4 tsp salt
1 C enchilada sauce
*5 small corn tortillas
*plain nonfat yogurt and avocado for garnish

1.  Early in the day, soak beans in water for at least 4 hours.  Drain, then return to the saucepan.  Refill with water and add a dash of salt.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 2 hours, until tender.  Drain.

2.  While the beans are simmering, cook the eggplant.  Pierce several times and bake at 400º until it collapses, about 1 hour.  When cool enough to handle, split down the middle and scoop out the pulp.

3.  In a bowl, toss together beans, eggplant pulp, tomatoes, garlic, and diced onion.  Set aside while you make the cornmeal.

4.  While the oven is preheating to 375º, stir together cornmeal, milk, water, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.  Stir constantly to avoid scorching the bottom.  It will thicken and start to spit at you within 10 minutes.  When mixture mounds as it's dropped from the spoon, you're ready to assemble the casserole.  Turn off the heat first, so the cornmeal doesn't explode all over the stove.
5.  I got creative with the tortillas and cut them into interesting shapes to make them fill the bottom of the 8x8 pan.  Spoon about 1/4 C of enchilada sauce on the bottom of the pan first, and another 1/4 C to soak the tops of the tortillas.
6.  Pour vegetable mixture on top of tortillas and spread out evenly.  Spoon on another 1/2 C of enchilada sauce and encourage it to soak in-between the spaces.  Top with cornmeal mush and sprinkle with cheese.
7.  Cook casserole until cheese is melted and crust is toasty, about 20-30 minutes.  The insides will be boiling, so let it rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting.  Serve warm, topped with yogurt (or fat-free sour cream) and avocado.

Difficulty rating  :)

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