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Happy Siete de Mayo!  I intended to make shepherd’s pie this past weekend, but was inspired by Cinco de Mayo to mix things up. Having masa harina in the house since making vegan tamales, I entertained the idea of making tamale pie instead.  Then it hit me: combining the two – a tamale “crust” with a spicy lentil filling, topped with creamy mashed potatoes. Shepherd’s Tamale Pie was born.

The challenge was deciding how to cook the masa crust.  Tamales are steamed, not baked, and I wanted to keep as authentic a taste as possible. After a little online research, I decided to bake my pie in a water bath, followed by a short stint under the broiler to brown the top.

Shepherd’s Tamale Pie

  • 1 dozen small red potatoes
  • 2 tbsp vegan margarine (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup unsweetened, non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1 cup masa harina
  • 1 1/2 cups veg broth
  • 1/8 cup corn oil
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped small
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped Anaheim or other semi-mild chile
  • 1 cup chopped white mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth (I used Imagine “No-Chicken”)
  • 1 can lentils
  • 1 canned chipotle chile in adobo, chopped fine plus 1 tbsp of the adobe mixture
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • chili powder
  • salt & pepper

Prepare potato topping my chopping potatoes and boiling them until soft. Mash with margarine and almond milk – adding enough milk to make mixture smooth, but not runny.  Salt & pepper to taste and set aside.

Prepare pie crust by combining masa harina, veg broth, corn oil and baking powder in a medium-sized bowl.  Mix into a stiff dough and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat olive oil on medium high in a large frying pan.  Sautee carrot for 3-4 minutes, then add onion, mushrooms, Anaheim chiles and frozen corn.  Cook until onion begins to brown, about 6-8 minutes.  Add wine and scrape pan to incorporate any browned bits into the mixture.  Cook, stirring frequently, until wine is absorbed, about 3-4 minutes.  Add lentils and turn heat down to medium.  Add broth, tomato sauce, chopped chipotle and adobe sauce. Cook 3-4 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Taste and add chili powder, salt & pepper to taste.  You may also want to add additional adobo sauce for more heat.

Grease a large pie dish.  Press masa dough into the bottom of the dish and up along the sides, as you would with a pie crust.  Place lentil mixture into the crust.  Top with mashed potatoes, covering the filling completely.

Put 2 inches of water into a large roasting pan or casserole dish.  Put the pie dish into the pan with water, cover the entire thing with foil and place in the oven.  Cook for 1 hour or until masa dough sets.  Turn on broiler for 1-2 minutes to brown the top of the potatoes.

Allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.

If you want to top a slice with a bit of spicy salsa and Tofutti sour cream, I won’t tell.