Black Bean and Spinach Tamales

Black Bean and Spinach Tamales

Makes about 50 small tamales

Tamale making is a labor-intensive endeavor, so make them when you have some helpful guests around the house. Tamales freeze well; simply steam them an extra ten minutes. Tamales are traditionally made with lard. In this recipe, we use vegetable shortening for a vegan alternative.

Ingredients: 
  • Tamale Wrappers
  • 75 corn husks or alternatively, banana leaves, cut into 4x6-inch rectangles
  • Boiling water
  • Filling
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 1 jalapeño, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, preferably fresh ground
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 pound frozen spinach, thawed completely
  • Masa
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 cups instant corn masa flour for tamales
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups palm kernel oil or other non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
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Method: 

For the wrappers, place them in a large pan or bowl and pour boiling water over them. Place a plate on top if necessary to submerge them. Allow to soak for 1 hour, until they become soft and pliable.

Meanwhile, for the filling, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add oil. When hot, stir in cumin and cayenne and cook until fragrant and toasted, about 30 seconds. Stir in chopped onion and sauté for 5 minutes, until onions are translucent on edges. Stir in garlic, jalapeño, salt, pepper and black beans. With a potato masher or pastry blender, break up beans while cooking for 5 minutes longer, until mixture sticks together. Remove from heat. Squeeze all excess moisture out of spinach, chop roughly and stir into bean mixture. Set aside.

For the masa, warm broth in a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir in garlic powder, cumin and sea salt. Broth should be warm to the touch, but not too hot. In a medium bowl with an electric hand mixer on low, mix together corn masa flour and baking powder until blended. Mix in warm broth, a cup at a time, until a wet corn paste is formed. In a separate large mixing bowl with hand mixer on high, beat vegetable shortening until light and fluffy. Drop large spoonfuls of corn paste into bowl and whip into shortening. Masa will be wet, yet light and fluffy. To check if masa is ready, form a pea-sized ball of masa between your fingers and drop it into a cup of cold water. If it floats to the surface, it is ready. If the ball sinks, continue mixing until enough air is incorporated for the masa ball to float.

To assemble tamales, tear the smallest wrappers into strings to tie up tamales. Lay a hydrated wrapper flat on a work surface. Spread about 3 tablespoons of masa thinly and evenly over the upper right hand corner of wrapper. Spread a tablespoon of bean and spinach filling over the middle of the masa. Starting with filled side, roll up tamale, tucking filling inside. Fold up unfilled end and tie off with a string. Repeat until all tamales are finished.

To steam tamales, heat a large pot of water with steamer basket inside. Place tamales upright in pan, open side up. Cover tamales with a clean, wet kitchen towel. Cover pot with a tight lid (if lots of steam is escaping, cover pot with foil and then a lid). Steam for 60 to 70 minutes, checking water level often to ensure pan does not run dry. Check tamales by removing one, unwrapping and letting cool until just warm to the touch. Finished masa will be firm throughout. If tamale is gummy when cool, return to pot and steam a bit longer until firm when cooled.

Nutritional Info: 
Per Serving:Serving size: About 2 tamales, 390 calories (190 from fat), 21g total fat, 15g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 590mg sodium, 42g carbohydrate (12g dietary fiber, 3g sugar), 14g protein
Special Diets: 

Note: We've provided special diet and nutritional information for educational purposes. But remember — we're cooks, not doctors! You should follow the advice of your health-care provider. And since product formulations change, check product labels for the most recent ingredient information. See our Terms of Service.

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