Butternut Squash Tamales

Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 12-20 tamales

If you're looking for a vegetarian tamales recipe for your Meatless Monday (or any time you want to go vegetarian or even vegan), put these butternut squash tamales in your recipe book. The dough is made with masa harina and butternut squash, which gives it a wonderfully sweet and nutty flavor. The filling, made with chipotle chiles, raisins, olives and a few other ingredients, has a tasty sweet and spicy flavor combination.

Cooking tamales is a labor of love but it's so worth it. They're perfect for any gathering of family or friends, and they're also a fun dish to cook together with your loved ones. It always makes sense to make them in large batches, because you can steam several at a time, depending on the size of your pot. Plus, cooked tamales can be enjoyed the next day. If you're looking for more vegetarian tamales, try this recipe for tamales with roasted nopalitos (cactus) and cheese or this one for tamales with green chile and cheese.

And don't forget about sweet tamales! You can get creative with tamales for dessert, with fillings like coconut, pineapple , cajeta (caramel), chocolate, or anything else your sweet tooth craves.

Recipe and photos contributed to Hispanic Kitchen by Carolyn Swaney


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  1. Before cooking, soak about 20 corn husks in hot water for ½ hour.
  2. Bring broth to a boil and add diced squash, green onion, adobo sauce, salt and cumin. Cook for 15 minutes or until squash is tender.
  3. Drain the broth into a bowl and reserve. Remove the squash and save other half for the filling. Mash the squash and mix in the masa. Slowly add broth and add oil, a few tablespoons at a time, until the dough is moist.
  4. Cover the dough with a damp towel or plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out while you prepare the filling.
  1. Heat the oil in a skillet, then add green onions, garlic, chipotles, cumin and salt. Cook for about 1 minute, further breaking up the chiles with the back of a wooden spoon.
  2. Add reserved squash, olives, raisins, capers, and cook 1 minute more, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add broth and orange zest. Cook on medium heat for another 2 minutes. Add cilantro and remove from the heat.
  4. Assemble tamales: Spread ¼ cup dough in the husk, and top with 2-3 tablespoons of the filling. Spread another few tablespoons of the dough on top, leaving enough room for folding or tying ends. Wrap tamales and place in tamale steamer.
  5. Steam tamales for about 1 hour, then serve!
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