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.

  • Yield about 8 servings


  • 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.