Happy Cinco de Mayo! In honor of this festive celebration, I wanted to create an easy Mexican dish that could be assembled in minutes and feed a crowd. What I came up with resembles the flavors of tamales, in an easy baked casserole.
Many of you have raved to us about Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo, so I knew that would be a star ingredient. I first tried the chorizo with scrambled eggs for a hearty breakfast, and I was sold! I think even meat-eaters would enjoy this vegetarian chorizo. And since Trader Joe’s has discontinued regular chorizo, I was delighted to find a great substitute.
The other key ingredient in this dish is precooked polenta. My good friend (and excellent cook) Gloria turned me onto using polenta rolls as a base for making layered Mexican-themed casseroles. I’ve tried versions she’s made with vegetables like butternut squash, or with different cheeses such as goat cheese for those with lactose-intolerance. Thank you, Glo, for this great meal idea!
The polenta is firm and a bit crumbly when cold, but when heated, it turns into warm, soft layers of cornmeal. Absolutely delicious!
You can throw in any combination of vegetables you have on hand. I used zucchini this time. I think I’ll try versions with mushrooms, red peppers, or eggplant too. You can play around with different cheeses, or omit the cheese altogether for lighter fare. This recipe is very forgiving and open to many variations.
Another Mexican-themed meal that would be great for a crowd is Taco Soup. Happy Cinco de Mayo to all!
Tamale Bake Recipe
2 (18 oz) tubes cooked polenta, sliced into 1/3″ rounds
1 pkg Soy Chorizo, removed from encasing, or substitute 1 lb meat cooked in Taco Seasoning
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained
3 zucchini squash, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese
1/2 cup Enchilada Sauce
1/4 cup cilantro
Sour cream as garnish (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Heat olive oil in a frypan. Saute onions for 5 minutes. Add zucchini and cook 5 minutes longer, until zucchini is softened.
3. Lightly grease a 9″x13″ baking pan (or use an 8″x8″ pan if making half a batch). Place half the polenta on the bottom, overlapping as necessary or leaving in a single layer. Sprinkle on half the chorizo, black beans, onion/zucchini mixture, enchilada sauce, and shredded cheese. Repeat with the 2nd layer.
4. Bake for 30 minutes until cheese is melted and casserole is piping hot. Sprinkle cilantro evenly on top. Serve with sour cream.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Hands-off cooking time: 30 minutes