Zucchini Week: A Sneaky Green Take on Tamale Pie

I managed to sneak zucchini into both the filling and the crust of this tamale pie.  I’d never even heard of (or imagined) a tamale pie, but thanks to the blog world I came across this version by Jenna of Eat, Live, Run and then I found this version by Mama Pea, who writes Peas and Thank You and just published a New York Times best selling cookbook!  So suddenly tamale pie was on my radar, and it seemed like the perfect vehicle for some more sneaky zucchini. 

I had just made my own taco seasoning based off of a formula from Food Renegade.  I’ve made my own taco seasoning a number of different times in the past because I got fed up with buying the little packets and I didn’t like all the extra ingredients.  The bulk spice section at my grocery store makes this easy and very cheap.

Taco Seasoning

  • 1/4 cup ancho chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

Mix everything together and store in an airtight container.


This taco seasoning would become a key presence in the filling for my tamale pie.  Though, of course, I started with zucchini.  I cubed my giant zucchini into little pieces.


I sautéed the zucchini with a diced purple onion and a diced Serrano from our garden in some olive oil.  When the onion was translucent and the zucchini was starting to brown, I added a rinsed can of black beans, 3/4 of a cup of water, and 2 tbsp of the taco seasoning mix that I made above.


While the filling was cooking down, I mixed up the corn topping.  I used Mama Pea’s topping recipe almost exactly, so you’ll have to click that link to go see it.  The only change I made was subbing in 1/3 cup of shredded zucchini in place of the applesauce.  (Seriously, I’m sneaking zucchini into every crevice of this recipe)


After I mixed up the topping, I spread it over the zucchini/bean/onion mixture in the same cast iron pan.  (what’s not to love about only having to clean one dish?)


I shredded some cheddar over half of the pan, and baked the whole thing at 400 (really 410 for my special Ikea oven) for 15 minutes.


Clearly we hated it.


This was so good.  Next time I could easily double the filling, but the cornbread to filling ratio on this was pretty great.  Plus I managed to use up two whole zucchini and get zucchini into both the filling and the crust.  Talk about a zucchini week victory! Smile

Sneaky Zucchini Tamale Pie

This recipe gets extra points, not only for having zucchini in both the crust and the filling, but because it’s nearly impossible to eat just a single slice, and you can make the whole thing in the same cast iron skillet.  Definitely a win!


for the filling:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large purple onion, diced
  • 1 serrano pepper, diced
  • 2 cups of zucchini, diced
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 2 tbsp taco seasoning

for the crust:

  • see Mama Pea’s genius recipe here
  • but sub 1/3 cup of shredded zucchini for the applesauce
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Sauté the onion, serrano and zucchini in the olive oil until the onion is translucent and the zucchini is starting to brown.
  3. Stir in the can of beans, and add the water and taco seasoning.
  4. Cook the filling for 10 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. 
  5. In the meantime, mix up the ingredients for the crust.
  6. Turn the heat off under the filling, and spread the crust over the top of the skillet.
  7. Shred cheese on top of the crust, and bake for 15 min.
  8. Enjoy!


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