With a history that’s deeper than the Aztec pyramids are tall, tamales have been a staple of Mexico for centuries. Some historians recognize them as part of the pre-Colombian diet starting somewhere between 5000 BC to 7000 BC, where they were likely cooked in buried coals. Wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves and filled with seasoned meat or pineapple, traditional tamales are sweet or savory pockets of deliciousness. Modern varieties have given the filling a new twist; there are feta and spinach filled tamales, black bean and onion, plantain and persimmon, sweet potato and chilies – the list goes on. However you decide to experiment, at The Ranch, we like the simplicity and vegetarian style of sautéed vegetable tamales.
Makes 8 Tamales
¾ cup masa harina flour mixed with ½ cup water (or substitute with a ½ lb of fresh premixed masa)
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
2-3 tablespoons vegetable stock
Bring masa mixture and shortening to room temperature. Place masa, shortening, salt, baking powder, and pepper in a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, and mix for 5 minutes. Drizzle vegetable stock in and mix for another 3 to 4 minutes.
1½ cups mixed vegetables (onion, zucchini, pepper, mushrooms, etc.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Wash and dice vegetables. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat, add the vegetables and sauté until tender approximately 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside to cool.
Filling the Corn Husks:
Soak corn husks in hot water for 2-3 minutes to soften. Once they are pliable, drain and pat dry. Cut 8 thin ribbons out of a husk – these will be used to tie the tamales. Next, fill the husks. With the coarser side up, spread a large soup spoon size of tamale dough onto a husk. Place a dollop of vegetable filling down the middle of the dough, and fold the husk in half from side to side, making sure to wrap the dough around the filling. Next, fold the bottom end of the husk up to meet the top, and tie the top with a thin strip of husk. Repeat this process with the remaining husks.
Cooking the Tamales:
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Place a steam rack over the boiling water, and put the tamales on the rack with the tied ends up. Cover and steam for 25 minutes, or until they’re still firm but softer to the touch. Enjoy!