This vegan tamale pie is made with a mixture of chickpeas, pinto beans and red beans simmered in a spicy tomato sauce and baked up with a crumbly cornbread crust.
So, what do vegans eat on Christmas? What does anybody eat on Christmas, for that matter? I think the traditional thing is ham, but does anybody actually eat ham? Growing up in an omnivorous household we never had ham over the holidays, but then again I can't really recall what we did have.
I've been wondering about this quite a bit lately. I feel like I've got a pretty good grasp on Thanksgiving, and I think that's why Christmas confuses me. It's kind of like, what's left?
I've come to the conclusion that any type of hot and cozy food for a crowd works for end-of-year celebrations in my book, and so I made this massive vegan tamale pie.
Whether you make this for the holidays or not, you should just make it, because it's really, really good. I've never had a traditional tamale pie, but from what I gather, the base is similar to chili, a cornbread crust is baked on top, and somewhere in there is a bunch of cheese. I initially figured I'd have to load my vegan version up with toppings to make up for the lack of cheese, but that turned out to be totally unnecessary. If you are inclined, feel free to throw on some avocado slices, salsa, guacamole, whatever you're into, but I didn't feel the need to do that, and I'm normally all about the toppings.
Three Bean Vegan Tamale Pie
For the Spicy Three Bean Base
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-14 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 1-14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1-14 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1-14 oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1-14 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
- 1 tbsp. ground cumin
- 2 tsp. ancho chili powder
- salt and pepper to taste
Make the Spicy Three Bean Base
Coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil (use a 12 inch oven-safe skillet if you have one) and place over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add bell pepper and garlic and cook another minute.
Add diced and crushed tomatoes, pinto beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, corn, cumin and ancho chili powder. Bring to a simmer and lower heat. Allow to simmer until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
If your skillet is not oven safe, lightly oil a 9 inch by 13 inch baking pan and transfer mixture to pan. Otherwise, leave the mixture in the skillet for baking.
Make the Cornbread Crust
When bean mixture is almost finished cooking, preheat oven to 375°.
Stir cornmeal, flour, flax, baking powder and salt together in a medium mixing bowl. Add milk, olive oil and scallions. Stir just until fully blended. Fold in scallions.
Carefully spread cornbread batter in a thin layer overtop of bean mixture using a large spoon or rubber scraper.
Bake until cornbread crust is firm and bean mixture is bubbly, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before cutting.