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Fall Is for Casseroles

By Cheryl Forberg, RD

Image of Cornbread Tamale Bake

While most of my recipes are now in electronic form, I still have my trusty wooden recipe box, comprised mostly of old familiar recipes from family and friends. And now that September’s upon us, comfort food and hot hearty meals come to mind. I flipped through my “Casseroles and One Dish Meals” tab, and quickly chose an old family favorite “Cornbread-Tamale Bake”. I think my mother found this recipe in the Sunday paper one year, and we have been enjoying it ever since. (Of course, in Minnesota, this was classified as a “hot dish”.)

I’ve made a few updates based on convenience, flavor and new product availability and IMO, this new version is even better. It’s a very forgiving recipe, so feel free to jazz up the seasonings to make it spicier. While it calls for ground beef, you can also use turkey, pork or a vegan meat substitute, such as Melissa’s Soy Ground®. And the same goes for the cheese: cheddar, mozzarella, or a vegan cheese, feel free to make this recipe your own. I hope it will become a family favorite for you too.

Cornbread Tamale Bake – Makes 12 servings

Image of Ingredients

For the filling:

2 pounds lean ground beef (or turkey or bison)
1 T Melissa’s chopped garlic
½ cup diced Melissa’s roast red bell pepper
½ cup chopped onion
1 ½ T chili powder
1 ½ t smoked salt
1 t dried oregano
2 (15.5 ounce) cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes
2 cups shredded low-fat cheese (I use ½ cheddar and ½ mozzarella)
½ cup sliced black olives
¼ cup chopped cilantro

For the cornbread*:

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
2 ½ t baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup low fat buttermilk (if you don’t have this on hand, combine 15 tablespoons (1 cup minus 1 tablespoon) milk with 1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar)
¼ cup oil or melted butter
1 large egg

*Or you can use a 10-ounce package of cornbread mix and prepare batter according to package directions. I prefer homemade.

Image of Cornbread Tamale Bake
Brown meat in a large sauté pan. Add onion, garlic and bell pepper and cook until the onion is tender. Add seasonings and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes longer. Stir in cheese, olives and cilantro and pour into a 9 x 13-inch pan.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees while preparing cornbread batter.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center. Add the wet ingredients and stir just until combined. Spoon batter over the casserole and spread to cover the top.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until the top is light golden brown. Serve hot with a green salad. This makes great leftovers and can also be cut and frozen in individual pieces.

Nutritional Analysis for one serving:

Calories 300
Calories from fat 100
Total fat 11g
Sat fat 3 g
Cholesterol 65 mg
Sodium 710mg
Carb 26 g
Fiber 3 g
Sugars 5 g
Protein 24 g
Vit A 8% RDA
Vit C 25% RDA
Calcium 15% RDA
Iron 15% RDA
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