Spice Up Week End Table, Vegan Jalapeno Pesto Potato Tamales from 'Tamales'

Spice up your week-end table with this Vegan recipe from Tamales, Fast and Delicious Mexican Meals (Ten Speed Press, October 2014) by Alice Guadalupe Tapp...

Jalapeño Pesto Potato Tamales

Here is another great vegan tamale recipe from my sister, Diane. Because it’s vegan, the recipe eliminates the Parmesan or Romano cheese found in most pesto recipes. This is also on our menu at Tamara’s Tamales, and it keeps our vegan customers happy. It’s also delicious made with carrots instead of potatoes. Cut four large carrots into strips and parboil them before assembling the tamales.


1 very large potato, any type
3/4 cup olive oil
7 fresh jalapeños, deveined and seeded
3 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 bunch cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups Vegan Masa (page 26)

Jalapeño Pesto Potato Tamales

Peel and cut the potato lengthwise into 1/4-inch “French fry” strips. Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, add the potato, and fry until browned on all sides, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In food processor, process the jalapeños, garlic, pine nuts, cilantro, remaining 1/2 cup olive oil, and salt until smooth.

Assemble the tamales (see pages 5-6), using 1/4 cup masa, 4 or 5 strips of potato, and 2 heaping tablespoons jalapeño pesto for each tamale. Transfer to a steamer and steam for 50 minutes.

Vegan Masa

This masa is for those who follow plant-based diets or just prefer using olive oil to lard or butter. You may also use this masa to make vegan pupusas and tortillas. The results have the same texture and excellent taste.


1 cup margarine or vegetable shortening, chilled, or olive oil
21/2 pounds stone ground fresh masa (unprepared)
2 cups vegetable stock
11/2 teaspoons salt
2 to 4 tablespoons dried mushroom powder, store-bought or homemade (see Note)

If you use the margarine or shortening, place it in a mixing bowl and whip for 2 to 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.

Add the masa and beat for 1 minute more, then add the stock, a little at a time, then add the salt and mushroom powder to taste. Continue beating for 2 to 4 minutes, or until a pinch of masa floats to the top of a cup of water.

If using the olive oil, pour it into shallow casserole dish, cover, and place in the freezer for at least 24 hours.

Remove right before using. It should be frozen to the hard stage. The temperature and the dense, solidified consistency help the masa remain light and fluffy during cooking. Combine the frozen oil and the masa in a mixing bowl and beat together for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the stock a little at a time, then add the salt and mushroom powder and beat until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes, or until a pinch of dough floats to the top of a cup of water.

Note: Making homemade mushroom powder is simple. Place any type of dried mushrooms in a food processor and process into a fine powder.


(*Reprinted with permission from Tamales, by Alice Guadalupe Tapp, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC. Photographs copyright © 2014 by Sara Remington)

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