As the fresh produce of summer fades and chillier temperatures set in, it can be more challenging to continue to eat healthy. Carb and cheese are suddenly even more tempting than usual. Any time I come across a main dish that is veggie and/or legume based and has a comfort food feel that works for the colder months, I am thrilled. This vegetarian tamale pie fills the healthy comfort food role perfectly.

The preparation is fairly simple and the dish makes a lot of food – enough for days of leftovers. Next time I may try baking in two separate dishes and freezing one after baking since this was just a lot of food for our family of four, and it is always nice to have an extra meal in the freezer for especially busy nights. We topped with a bit of greek yogurt for some added creaminess and it was great that way.


  • 2 (28 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, drained with 2 cups of liquid reserved
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1¼ tsp. kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp. minced chipotle in adobo sauce
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 4 tsp. lime juice
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, rinsed and drained (or 3 cups cooked beans)
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained (or 3 cups cooked beans)
  • 1½ cups fresh or frozen corn
  • 1 zucchini, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 4 cups water
  • 1½ cups coarse cornmeal


  • 01

    Preheat the oven to 475˚ F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a mixing bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, oil and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Toss to combine, then spread out on the prepared baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to brown at the edges, about 35-40 minutes.

  • 02

    Remove the vegetables from the oven and lower the oven temperature to 375˚ F. Transfer the roasted vegetables and any juices to a blender. Add in the chipotle, chili powder, lime juice and reserved tomato juice. Puree until the mixture is slightly chunky, 8-10 seconds. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Combine the sauce with the beans, corn, zucchini, cilantro and oregano in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Mix well, then spread into an even layer. Spread the shredded cheese in an even layer over the top.

  • 03

    Bring the water to a boil in a medium to large saucepan over high heat. Add in the remaining ¾ teaspoon of salt, then slowly add in the cornmeal, whisking vigorously to prevent clumping. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook, whisking constantly, until the cornmeal begins to soften and the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread the warm cornmeal mixture over the casserole with a spatula, pushing it to the edges of the baking dish.

  • 04

    Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the crust is beginning to brown and the filling bubbles, about 30-35 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

  • Melissa Brooker

    This sounds amazing! Like a vegetarian Mexican shepherd’s pie! I can’t wait to try it!

  • This sounds like one perfect dinner! Definitely something I will save for later :)

  • i agree about carbs and cheese. salads are such an afterthought these days. i will be trying this tamale pie very soon!

  • Katie (The Muffin Myth)

    This looks amazing, Annie! Just the kind of thing I’m in the mood for these days. And I love that it’s freezer friendly too!

  • Love this topping! What a perfect dish to bridge the seasons. Thanks Annie!

  • Diane

    I make a tamale pie that is similar to this! Yummy!

  • Paige Cassandra Flamm

    Yum! We love making meatless meals on weeknights and this looks like a perfect one to add to our recipe book!


  • Tracy

    This looks like a lovely dinner! I bet it would be great in individual ramikens similiar to pot pie! That would make for easy freezing too!

  • Tara

    Do you think I can use masa instead of corn meal? Thanks

  • Liz N.

    I have this cookbook and have dog-eared this recipe. I will need to make this over the weekend, and do as you suggested; place in two containers, one to freeze and one to serve. This looks amazing!

  • Holly

    I love tamale pie… such a good comfort food! Haven’t tried it with pinto beans though – sounds tasty!

  • Paula @ Dishing the Divine

    Perfect! I’m literally sitting here planning my meals for the week I’m thinking that I need to use something that is Mexican so I can make guacamole to go on the side. Tired of my old standbys, and here you have a fantastic option for us!

  • Karen @ The Food Charlatan

    Looks awesome! Tamale pie is a classic, my mom made it all the time. I think I would like it even better meatless. I’m seriously impressed that you managed to make it not look like dog food. :) It’s gorgeous!

  • This sounds fantastic, and comforting! Thanks, Annie.

  • annieseats

    I’m sure you could, but I’m not sure how the liquid would need to be adjusted. You would have to experiment. Good luck!

  • sheryl wehn

    Very tasty! I halved the bean/corn filling but still used a 9×13 dish with the full amount of cheese and cornmeal topping. It was the perfect ratio of items!