Cornbread Casserole (aka “Tamale Pie”)

14 Apr

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Casseroles. Not too much effort to prepare, and they can yield multiple servings. So great for feeding a crowd, or a smattering for many days.

Kind of like a smoothie (here me out…), a casserole can pack in a lot of healthy (or not so healthy…up to you) foods into a meal. We’ve got carbs (cornbread!), veggies, and protein (beans and/or meat and cheese) all in one. Some of my other favorite casseroles include: lasagna and matzo lasagna.

I fondly remember my college days, living in a co-op house with 60+ students, where this sort of cornbread topped casserole dish was in heavy rotation (along with “lentil loaf,” homemade pizza nights, and giant pasta-bakes…).

This type of meal is a great week night throw-together that I imagine would please a family with young kids or teenagers, too. Perfect on it’s own, or maybe with a light side salad.

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The best part about this type of casserole is that you really do not need a recipe except for maybe the cornbread topping. I just threw in a handful or this and that, with some dashes of “tex-mex” style spices. This was my “kitchen sink” casserole; a great way to use up the odds and ends laying around from the week.

My casserole had a thinnish layer of cornbread on top…but if you really love cornbread, you may want to double the proportions for the recipe below. Or feel free to whip up your favorite cornbread recipe and just plop it on top of the veggie mixture before baking.

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Cornbread Casserole (aka “Tamale Pie”)

loosely adapted from NYTimes

bakes up in a 3-qt casserole dish

Filling:

1 onion, chopped

2-4 different kinds of veggies, chopped (I used zucchini, mushrooms, spinach…)

optional: 2 pre-cooked chicken sausages, chopped (or ground beef/turkey)

about 2 cups of black beans (or pinto, or kidney, or black-eyed peas…)

1 cup of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes

spices: cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper (no need to measure, just add some dashes to taste)

optional: some chopped chili in adobo sauce (from the can)

Topping:

3/4 cup cornmeal

1 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of salt

1 egg

1/3 cup milk

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

grated cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In a large skillet, heat some oil and add the onion, veggies, and sausage. Cook until the onions start to soften and everything starts turning slightly golden brown. Add the black beans, tomato sauce, and spices. Simmer for 5-10 minutes more. Pour the mixture into a casserole dish.

To make the corn bread: Whisk together the dry ingredients (corn meal/flour/sugar/baking powder/salt) in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and vegetable oil. Add the wet to the dry. Loosely cover the veggie mixture with the corn bread topping. The topping may disappear slightly into the veggie mixture but will rise during baking and form a layer of corn bread. Optional: add some grated cheese on top before or mid-way through baking. Bake until the corn bread is brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

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