Monday, July 28, 2008

Green Tamales

Tonight's meal was brought to you by the sweltering summer heat and an oven turned up to 400F.

I'm currently trying to avoid buying anything at the store, as I've already surpassed our grocery budget for the month. So everything in this meal was already in our garden, pantry, or fridge. Feel free to substitute things that are in YOUR house when you make this.

I was going to just make some collards, some beans, and some polenta...but decided to put it all together inside the collard leaves for a tamale-like dish. I love how it turned out!

Green Tamales (serves 6)

12 collard leaves

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 mild chile, finely chopped
2 cups polenta
4 cups water
1 tsp. salt

1 cup cooked kidney beans (I pressure cooked some)

1 red pepper, seeds removed
2 medium tomatoes
1/2 sweet onion
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. salt

Start by preheating the oven to 400F. To prepare the filling, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and mild chile, stirring as it cooks to prevent any burning. When the garlic is fragrant but not browned, add the polenta, water, and salt. Stir to completely combine. Continue stirring until you have a thick, pudding-like polenta- about 10 minutes should do it. Stir in the cooked kidney beans and remove from heat. Taste the mixture (careful- it's really hot!) and adjust salt to your liking.

Fill a wide, shallow skillet about 1/2 way up with water and heat until simmering. Then wash 12 collard leaves and remove the largest part of the stem- about 1/3-1/2 of the way up the leaf.

Then drop the leaves in the shallow pan of simmering water for, oh, maybe a minute. The leaves should still be bright green. Now it's time to assemble your rolls.

Place about 1/2 cup of filling closer to the stem end of the collard leaf.

Fold in the two lateral sides of the leaf.
The fold up the stem end and continue rolling up and over the filling. Roll them tightly for a nice looking finished dish.
Pack the rolls into a lightly greased 8x11 baking dish. Then prepare your sauce.
Puree red pepper, tomatoes, onion, smoked paprika, and salt in a food processor or blender until smooth. Spoon over the collard tamales and bake, uncovered, for about 20-25 minutes.
We had ours with some tasty sweet corn smothered in Miso-"Butter".
Here's an inside shot:
As you can see- the polenta firms up nicely to mimic a tamale. Except with these tamales you can eat the wrapper!


Jenna said...

Major points for creativity! I'm impressed.

Anonymous said...

Those look fabulous! But I still cannot get over the fact that you actually turned on the stove/oven in this heat and are crazy!!


Alice (in Veganland) said...

this meal looks absolutely fantastic! And I happen to have polenta in my pantry...

Erin said...

It's so nice to take a "little bit of everything" meal and turn it into something presentable. These sound really good!