Butternut Tamales with Pepita Sauce

While trying a new cooking technique for the first time at a holiday meal isn't always a recipe for success, these fall-focused tamales definitely fit the season and are hearty and full of flavor. We loved the warm, freshly cooked tamales, rich butternut squash filling, and nutty pepita sauce. Making the tamales wasn't overly technical, it reminded me of rolling sushi, and a lot of the steps can be started ahead of time to make good use of your preparation time.

Recipe from Feasting at Home.

-2 dozen corn husks
-1 onion, diced
-2 poblano peppers, diced with seeds removed
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 pound butternut squash, roasted and mashed
-4 ounces queso fresco
-1 3/4 teaspoon cumin, divided
-3 cups masa harina
-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
-4 cups vegetable broth, divided
-1/3 cup olive oil
-1/2 cup fresh parsley
-handful of spinach
-1 teaspoon lime juice
-1/2 cup roasted pepitas
-2 cans black beans

Soak the corn husks in a large bowl of warm water for 30 minutes.

Then, to make the filling, saute onion and poblano peppers in a pan with a tablespoon of oil over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Put half the onion and pepper mixture into a blender or food processor. Combine remaining onions and peppers with the mashed butternut squash and let cool. Stir in queso fresco, 3/4 teaspoon cumin and 3/4 teaspoon salt.

In a separate bowl, stir together the masa harina, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and the baking powder. Pour in 2 3/4 cups vegetable broth and the olive oil. Stir until a dough forms of uniform consistency.

Set a stock pot on the stove with a steamer basket and add water just to the bottom of the basket. Bring the water to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Line the steamer basket with 3-4 corn husks, then pat dry the remaining corn husks and place one on a flat surface. Add 1/4 cup tamale dough to the corn husk (will make about 12 total) and spread it out to about 5 inches square, staying about 2 inches from the bottom (pointed end). Place about 2 tablespoons butternut filling on the dough in a line (top to bottom) and start to roll the sides of the corn husk up and down so that the tamale dough meets at its outer edges and covers the filling. Press the edges of the dough together, then roll the corn husk around the tamale and fold the bottom inch of corn husk up to seal the corn husk. Repeat with all tamale dough and filling, then arrange the tamales vertically around the center of the steamer basket. Close the lid to the stock pot and leave at a simmer for about an hour.

While the tamales steam, retrieve the food processor containing half of the onion and poblano mixture. Add 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth, parsley, spinach, lime juice, and pepitas. Pulse until blended. If the sauce is too wet, set it in a saucepan on the stovetop over medium heat to reduce, and feel free to use an immersion blender at this stage as well to make the sauce smoother.

Heat the beans on the stove with a few tablespoons of vegetable broth, a dash of cumin, a dash of chili powder, and a pinch of salt, when ready to serve. Serve the steamed tamales together with a portion of beans, and a dollop of pepita sauce.



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