Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Italian "Tamales"

Italian “Tamales”

I’ve used the method of making tamales and revamped it by using Italian flavors. Instead of masa corn meal, we’re using polenta. The filling for the “tamales” is a tofu ricotta and a vegetable-“sausage” mixture. If you don’t want to go through the tamale process, you can make everything as directed and cut cooled polenta into squares, sauté and layer polenta, filling, and sauce.

For the Filling:

*1 recipe tofu ricotta. I like to blend the following in a food processor until smooth:
[1 lb pressed tofu , crumbled with fingers
2/3 cup Vegenaise (more if needed)
6 or so fresh basil leaves, cut small
Generous sprinkle of dried Italian seasonings
(Blend well, set aside in container and chill completely)]

*¾-1 c chopped Tofurkey Italian Sausage, sautéed. You can use any sort of veggie sausage/protein
*3 medium zucchini, peeled and rough chopped
*¼- ½ white onion (if you have it on hand)
*Italian seasonings (your choice)
*kosher salt

In a large skillet, heat about 2-3 Tbsp olive oil. Toss in zucchini and sprinkle with kosher salt and seasonings. Cook zucchini until tender and add sausage pieces. Pulse briefly in food processor. Put in container and chill completely.

When both the ricotta and zucchini are completely chilled, combine in bowl. Letting ricotta chill overnight really develops the flavors and it tastes much more like seasoned ricotta.

Corn Husks-
Day of assembly- soak dried corn husks in hot water until very pliable. Corn husks can be found in regular grocery stores, but they are much more cost-effective at Latino/Hispanic food stores. (Psst. Your tofu will probably be cheaper at an Asian market, too!)

Make the polenta:
Basic Polenta Recipe- I doubled it but it was too much! Maybe do 1.5 of the recipe
Instead of dairy ingredients, use vegan ingredients (Follow Your Heart Cheese/Earth balance). When done cooking, put in wide tall lasagna pan. The more surface area, the quicker it cools and you want it cool to room temperature.

Assembling the tamales:
Lay corn husk flat. Place a layer of polenta in the center, followed by filling, followed by more polenta, sealing the polenta around the filling.
People do this many different ways. I prefer to use my hands and spoons.
Roll corn husk around polenta/filling and tie edges off. You can tuck edges under or tie each edge off, up to you.
Repeat with all ingredients.

I steamed them but think this was completely unnecessary. So..chill tamales so the polenta becomes solid in the tamale shape.

Unwrap tamales and sauté each one. This isn’t part of making tamales, but it gives the polenta a nice crisp outside.

Lay corn husks on plate, place tamales on top, and top with your choice of tomato-based pasta sauce.

1 comment:

Fred Garber said...

Que Rico! My wife is from Mexico and I have a lot of Italian blood in me.