My favorite tamales are filled with roasted chiles and cheese. Whenever the “tamale lady” would stop by my old office, I’d get a dozen and eat half of them before lunch break even came around. They were still hot because she carried them in a cooler, wrapped up in fat foil bundles. The hot hot hot salsa that she gave away in tiny baggies (I figured out that salsa recipe here) smeared on every one. Filled to bursting with soft cheese and roasted poblanos. Oof.
I’m sure that hers weren’t vegetarian tamales — I’m positive they were made with lard — but for this recipe, since it’s dedicated to my friend Adriene who is vegetarian, I’m using butter. Oil works, too, but butter adds more flavor. If you prefer to use lard, go right ahead! Let it soften on the counter before you whip it. I’m also using vegetable broth (I like this brand) but chicken broth works deliciously.
For the cheese, I’ve made these tamales with Oaxacan cheese, Monterey Jack and Manchego. I think you could use any kind of melting cheese you want (a smoked cheddar or gouda would be interesting) as long as you’re generous with it! Roasted poblanos are perfect but I’ve also used roasted Hatch chiles in the past. And the salsa verde – make a batch of my recipe or just buy a jar of your favorite. Serve any extra along with the tamales.
Tamales are a Christmas Eve tradition in my family and in many Texas families. We always had them with rice and refried beans and my grandma’s queso and chips. And Tapatio hot sauce and beers. Tiny glasses of Rompope for dessert after. One present each for the children to open after dinner then off to bed while the adults stayed up late with the Rompope.
Vegetarian Tamales de Rajas con QuesoPrint
Vegetarian Tamales de Rajas con Queso
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 60 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Yield: 24
- 1 bag dried corn husks
- 3 cups dry masa harina
- 2 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
- 3/4 cup soft butter (12 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1-2 teaspoons salt
- 2-3 poblano peppers
- 1/2 pound Monterey Jack, Oaxacan, Asadero or Manchego cheese
- 1 cup salsa verde
- Begin soaking the husks in hot water.
- Get a large pot, put a penny in the bottom and a steamer basket or tray.
- Mix masa harina with 2 cups of broth. Add more if necessary to get it fully dampened. Let sit 5-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, beat the butter, oil, and salt together on medium speed until smooth; about 3 minutes. Add the masa a bit at a time until it’s incorporated. Add more broth if necessary. Beat until smooth and soft, about the appearance and texture of hummus. Test it by dropping a small spoonful into a glass of water. The ball should float when the masa has the right amount of air whipped into it. Cover and set aside while you roast the peppers. Place them under the broiler or over a gas stove until blistered all over. Transfer to a bowl and cover. Let cool. This steaming allows you to remove the skin better. Peel and cut them into strips.
- Cut the cheese into strips.
- Add water to the large pot, just up to the bottom of the steamer rack. Layer soaked husks (can be the ugly ones) all over the bottom and up the sides. Turn the heat to low and put a lid on the pot.
- Open a soaked husk, place the smoothest side up, pointy side closest to you. Spread a heaping tablespoon of masa over the center of the wide end of the husk. (see video for demo)
- Spread a tablespoon of salsa over that, then a couple strips of poblano and cheese.
- Fold the right side over, left side over, bottom up. Tie with a strip of husk if necessary.
- When all tamales are made, place then in the pot. Cover and increase heat to medium. You should hear the penny jingling. If it stops, you need to add more hot water. Pour it in along the side of the pot, not on top of the the tamales.
- Let them steam for 60-80 minutes, until firm. To check doneness, pull one out and let it cool a few minutes. If after that, it unwraps easily without sticking – the tamales are done!
Vegetarian Tamales Recipe Video
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