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Vegan Tamales

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Vegan Tamales

Tamales are like little delicious presents, especially when they're dairy-free.

© 2009 Ashley Skabar, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Traditional tamales are prepared with lard, which is technically dairy-free, though certainly not vegan and not exactly healthy. These dairy-free cheese and jalepeno tamales are my basic lard-free, vegan tamales that can be filled with many different kinds of fillings, from beans to veggies to sweet potatoes, and they are so much fun to serve!

I really prefer using dairy-free cream cheese in this recipe, but if this is not available, dairy-free soy margarine or even all-vegetable dairy-free shortening will work as well.

Makes 12 tamales

Ingredients:

  • For the Tamales:
  • 14 large dried corn husks
  • 1 8-ounce tub dairy free cream cheese
  • 3 cups masa harina
  • 1 3/4 cups warm vegetable stock
  • For the Filling:
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 jalepenos, finely chopped and seeded
  • 3 T. finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • For the Dairy-free Cheese Sauce:
  • 2 cups plain dairy-free soymilk or almond milk
  • 1/4 cup Tahini
  • 2/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 t. turmeric
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth powder
  • 1 T. prepared mustard
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation:

1. Place the corn husks in a large bowl. Fill with water to cover, then place a plate or pan on top of the husks to submerge them for 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, make the masa dough. In a medium-large mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer, beat the dairy-free cream cheese on medium speed for about 1 minute, or until aerated and fluffy. Add the masa harina and stock gradually, beating until well combined. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.

3. Meanwhile, make the filling. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil, adding the onion and garlic once hot. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are soft. Add the jalepenos, cilantro and salt, and cook for about 2 minutes more, or until the onions are translucent. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. Make the dairy-free cheese sauce. In a small sauce pan over medium-low heat, heat the soy milk and tahini. When just warm, add the nutritional yeast and turmeric, stirring until well combined, followed by the vegetable broth powder, stirring well until dissolved. Add the prepared mustard and cook until desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste.

5. Assemble the tamales. Tear 2 of the corn husks lengthwise (with the grain) into 12 strips and set aside. Drain the remaining corn husks and pat them dry. Place one of the corn husks on a dry work surface. Place about 1/4 cup of the masa harina mixture in the center of the corn husk, pressing the mixture into a rectangle and leaving about a 1- 1 1/2 inch border on the sides. Place 2 T. of the vegetable mixture onto the center of the masa rectangle, followed by about 2-3 T. of the dairy-free cheese sauce. Bring the "long sides" of the corn husk together without folding them over. Tuck in the ends of the cornhusk, then continue to fold the long sides of the husk around the tamale. Using one of the corn husk strips, tie the tamale to secure. Repeat with the remaining corn husks and batter.

6. Cook the tamales. Fill a stockpot with a steamer insert with water so that it is just about 1/2 inch below the basket. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Place the tamales upright in the steamer basket, cover, and steam for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the batter is firm and easily comes away from the corn husk. Remove from heat and let the tamales stand for about 10 minutes before serving. Serve with salsa, dairy-free cheese sauce or just as they are!

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