How do you feel when I say the word: Casserole ?

Is it just me or whenever you hear the word casserole you instantly think of sitcoms? The kind where the mother would always cook something horrid like “Tuna Casserole” or those commercials that come on only during Thanksgiving and the person goes “I made the green bean casserole.” You know what I’m talking about the casseroles with those fried onion thingies? I’m obviously not good with examples but, I guess the point I’m trying to make is that the word casserole has always rubbed me the wrong way.

But you know what?  A lasagna (pasta), shepherd’s pie (potato), and pastelón (plantain) are in the casserole family. And not to toot my own horn or anything but I make pretty killer casseroles! It just so happens today I made a Mexican inspired one also known as a Tamale Pie. The upper layer is cornbread and the filling is a fiesta of flavor in your mouth. The traditional tamale pie is by no means vegan! Mine on the hand is and I am quite happy with the outcome so, I hope you enjoy this recipe! (Adapted from Mama Pea’s Tamale Pie and modified by me)

For the filling:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 package of seitan (you can also use gluten-free tempeh)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon agave or maple syrup
  • 14 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 15 oz. can organic lentils or black beans (make sure you drain and rinse!)
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

For the cornbread crust:

  • 2/3 cornmeal
  • 1/3 chickpea flour (regular flour works phenomenally as well)
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 tablespoon agave or maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup corn

Cooking Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place a large skillet on medium-high heat and spray a little cooking spray or a splash of olive oil. Place onion and pepper on skillet. Sauté until they’re softened.
  • Throw in seitan or tempeh into pan with onions & peppers. Allow it to lightly brown on each side; cooking for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  • Add garlic, chili powder, salt, vinegar, agave or maple syrup, tomato sauce, and lentils.
  • Allow mixture to simmer for a few minutes to create flavor. Stir in cilantro and place mixture in a baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray or lightly oiled and set aside.
  • In a medium sized bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • In measuring cup combine milk, agave or maple syrup, and olive oil.
  • Add wet ingredients to dry mixture and stir until combined.
  • Fold in the corn into the mixture and stir.
  • Spread the cornbread mixture gently on top of the filling.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until cornbread is set and browned.

Tastes especially good when served with avocado, black olives, and fresh salsa! The casserole serves about six people and it also freezes fabulously. Mmmm!

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