Quinoa Tamale Pie

I had a request for a main dish using quinoa, and a few days later, this appeared in my kitchen. It's a lot like the traditional tamale pie my mom used to make with ground beef, only without the meat, of course.  Quinoa is a super-protein grain, and works really well in this dish. It was so good, we're looking forward to eating the leftovers tonight.

Quinoa Tamale Pie
These amounts will fill a 9X13 baking dish. Mine is a bit smaller, so I had a some left over quinoa and filling, which I'll use for something else.

Rinse and cook 2 cups of quinoa. Leave it in the cooking pan while you make the filling.

Chop and saute one small onion in a little olive oil.
Add 3 T chili powder and cook with the onions for 2-3 minutes. This gives the chili a wonderful deep richness. Don't skip this step!
Stir in 1 T cumin and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
Add 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with the juice, 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed, 1 (6.5 oz) can sliced black olives, 1 cup frozen corn, and about 13 ounces chopped green chiles. I use Bueno brand, which is in the freezer section here, but may not be available everywhere. Fresh chiles would be terrific, and Ortega's will do in a pinch.
When the filling mixture is hot, add 6 organic corn tortillas, cut into bite sized pieces, and stir to coat them.

Spray the baking pan with cooking spray, and layer the quinoa and filling with Daiya Cheddar Shredsas follows -- half the quinoa, cheese, all of filling, cheese, remainder of quinoa, cheese. You'll use one whole 8 oz bag of "cheese". Daiya is the best un-dairy cheese I've found so far. Love it!

Bake at 350ยบ for about 30 minutes. Serve with a green salad and simple avocado dressing (mashed avocado, vegan mayo, lemon juice, salt & pepper, a touch of maple syrup, and almond milk to thin)

A side note: Kicking the dairy cheese habit is difficult because the stuff is literally addictive. Cows milk contains morphine, as well as casein, which when broken down by the body releases even more opiates. The concentrations of these opiates in cheese are high enough to make it addictive. I know from my own experience how hard it is to walk away from cheese. But once I did, I noticed how much better I felt, and I also started to lose weight, which always pleases me. If you want a little help kicking your own cheese habit, watch the film, Go Further, in which Woody Harrelson bluntly explains how dairy products contain "blood and pus"... Mmmm. Appetizing, huh? Now get yourself some Daiya and make some tamale pie!


  1. Kim: I've seen Woody harrelson on TV talking about dairy and frankly, I think he's a looney. Dairy can be wholesome but nowadays is so mass-produced and in such a hurry that it is not. If you have your own cow and fed it correctly your dairy would be fine. The problem is not the dairy, it's the way we produce here in the good ole USA. (We're number one - NOT!)

  2. Hi Kim,
    I was really into this dish until I got to "blood and pus." I know you are taking an opportunity to educate or inform and I commend you for that. But I have to tell you that I would not look at a recipe book beyond the first recipe that had at the end of it something about blood and pus in it. I would not buy a recipe book with blood and pus statements in it. Yuk! If you are speaking to the converted, they can stomach it. If you are speaking to those of us with growing sensibilities about food contamination it's a turn off. I think it might be best to keep recipe and gore elements separate. Now you don't want people thinking about Kim's Quinoa Tamale Pie and blood and pus in the exact same food fantasy do you? And, believe it or not, mother's that breast feed can also pass along blood and pus with their milk but would we encourage every mother to abstain from breast feeding? Just saying. I am most concerned about the treatment of animals that are raised for our consumption. But I am equally concerned about the pesticides and poisons in our grain, vegetable and fruit crops.

  3. Levonne: Also - there are many cultures in the world that use animal blood as a nutrient - the Masai for one, the French, for another (Boudin Noir, which is blood sausage), also the English (Black Pudding, also blood sausage), Portugese, Italians, etc. So the cleanliness issue is not so much WHAT we eat as it is HOW it is produced (unless you object to eating animal products on a moral basis, which is an althogether different issue and certainly very valid).

  4. Good discussion! Since I'm here to educate, entertain, encourage, and even persuade people to eat plants, not animals, I will consider leaving out the
    "nasty bits", to quote my favorite devoted vegetarian hater, Anthony Bourdain. Seems every time I speak my mind, I get scolded, which is actually a good sign that I've gotten someone's attention. However, it's not always productive, and doesn't always get the results I hope for. Learned my lesson with politics. Now I guess I need to whitewash my musings on food too... we'll see how that goes. Thanks for the feedback. Really.

  5. Not whitewash. Separate when you speak on gross vs. appetizing elements of food depending on what you're trying to achieve with your "audience." There is a critical element to the art and skill of asking for something. That critical element is "timing." Timing used skillfully will increase incidents of getting what you're after.

  6. So... are you going to try this recipe that I made especially for you?

  7. Yes I'm going to try it and I really do appreciate that you took the time and effort to put it together. It looks and sounds delicious. I'm sure that the others from my network that were interested will be excited about it too.

    I'm also interested in the culture and politics of being vegan. And if you write posts about that (using language shaped to shock and disgust meat-product eaters), I'll read those too. I just don't want to be slapped in the face with the language while I'm trying to enjoy a vegan recipe. It's not the way to treat a friend or a loyal follower. Is that unreasonable do you think?

  8. I don't mind the blood. It was the pus that turned me off.

    This does look like a good recipe, but I would use real cheese. I've tried the vegan stuff and it is not to my taste.

    I no longer eat beef because it causes my arthritis to flair, but then so does wine, mushrooms, asparagus, and most beans.

  9. I for one can not wait to make this. I have everything I need in my pantry and fridge!
    Since "turning" vegan, (and low fat at that) I struggle to find good recipes.
    I was shocked to find out that cheese is what I miss most. Especially since I didn't think I ate that much of it. Your side note did not discourage me. It made me glad that I don't eat the blood and pus variety anymore.
    Also being a fan of Bourdain, you writing about it did not offend me, I like shock and awe, almost as much as typing "blood and pus"!
    Thanks for sharing your veganism with us, it's very helpful.

  10. Hey Kim,
    I made this dish last night and it was a hit! I would recommend using your salad dressing recipe though. I did not and there was a clash. So with the leftovers tonight, I'll use your salad dressing recipe. I can see how it is complimentary to the dish. Thanks again. And I hope my forthrightness hasn't been too offensive.

  11. Just finished the documentary called "Eating". WOW! Kind of mind blowing about the health benefits of a plant-based diet. Jonas and I are thinking of going meat free 6 days a week, then giving ourselves license to eat whatever we want 1 day a week. I'm already gluten and dairy free, so meat seems the next logical step. I agree, once you get cheese out of your system, you don't even crave it. I wish sugar was the same way! Can't wait to try this recipe. Thanks Aunt Kim! xxoxo


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