Tamales are made by steaming masa, a corn-based dough, inside a corn husk until tender. Traditional tamales are made with vegetable shortening, but this recipe substitutes it for extra virgin olive oil. The result is a tender masa with a distinct flavor that pairs perfectly with rich tomato sauce and vegan cheese.
Olive Oil Tamales [Vegan]
For the Filling:
- 1/4 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 1/2 pounds tomatoes
- 2 guajillo chilis, stemmed and seeded
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable stock powder
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin oil
For the Dough:
- 2 cups tamale-grind masa harina (corn flour)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/4-1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 package dried corn husks
- Vegan cheese
- Soak the corn husks in hot water for 30-45 minutes.
To Make the Filling:
- Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender.
- Add the tomatoes, chiles, tomatoes, and the vegetable broth to the blender and purée until smooth.
- In the same saucepan, heat the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the chile-tomato mixture and cook, stirring regularly, until it has darkened in color, 4 minutes. You can add a little bit of vegetable broth to thin the purée to a sauce-like consistency.
- Lower the heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the color deepens slightly and the consistency is smooth, around 10-15 minutes, adding more broth as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve.
To Make the Dough:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the masa harina with the baking powder and salt.
- Using the paddle attachment, gradually start adding the olive oil. When the dough starts to form, gradually add the vegetable broth.
- The dough should be tender and fluffy, but it should keep its form.
- Add more broth if the mixture seems too dry, 2 tablespoons at a time.
- Thinly slice the vegan cheese
- Wipe a soaked husk dry and put it smooth side up on a work surface.
- Trim the bottom with scissors so the husk can lie mostly flat. Put about 1/3 cup masa harina in the center of the widest portion of the husk.
- With your hands, spread it evenly over two-thirds of the husk, leaving a 2-inch border at the narrow top end of the husk.
- Put 1-2 tablespoons of the tomato sauce in the center of the masa, about 1/2-inch from the wide end. Add 1-3 strips of vegan cheese.
- Fold the corn husk in half, lengthwise, so the edges meet and the filling is completely covered.
- Fold up narrow end up husk, leaving wide end of tamale open. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, until all the dough has been used.
- Fill a deep pot, fitted with a steamer insert, with enough water to reach just below the insert.
- Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Arrange the tamales upright (open end up) in the insert, leaving room for the steam to circulate.
- Fit the insert into the pot over the boiling water. Cover the pot with a lid, and steam for 60-90 minutes. Check the water level frequently and add more as needed to keep the pot from going dry.
- To test for doneness, carefully, remove a tamale from the pot, and let it cool for a few minutes. Unwrap it, if ready, the dough should be set and will pull away from the corn husk easily. Let the tamales rest for 5-10 minutes before serving, to allow the masa to firm up.
- Serve the tamales in their wrappers with extra sauce on the side.