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Wild Mushroom Tamales with Delicata Squash, Black Beans and Chipotles

Slofoodgroup Team May 01, 2021

Vegan Chipotle Black Bean, Squash, and Wild Mushroom Tamales

If you’ve never taken part in a tamalada—a traditional Mexican gathering with the sole purpose of bringing people together for communal tamale-making—you are really missing out. Tamaladas are composed of friends, family, neighbors, and basically anyone you want to spend an afternoon with. Everyone works together, creating loads of tamales while simultaneously visiting, imbibing, listening to music, indulging on delicious snacks, and occasionally dancing. 

Tamales are not difficult to make but they are time-consuming and messy, so the more hands involved, the better! Plus, what better excuse to gather with your favorite people than to make dozens upon dozens of this Mexican comfort food!  

Traditional tamale dough is made with pork lard and the fillings most often include slow-cooked meats and cheeses. For many traditionalists, it might be hard to imagine a tamale being transformed into a vegan dish. 

Good thing we aren’t traditionalists! Don’t get me wrong, we love a good tradition. We just don’t think those who adhere to a plant-based diet should miss out on this Mexican favorite and the fun they are to make!

That’s why we’ve concocted a plant-based version of tamales, using both dehydrated and fresh mushrooms, black beans,  winter squashes, and plenty of Mexican seasonings for that depth of flavor found in traditional tamales. So you can not only join in on the culinary party, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Vegan Tamales with Chipotle Wild Mushrooms and Black Beans


For the vegan tamale filling: 

  • 1.25 ounces dehydrated wild mushroom; we used morels and porcinis
  • 1 cup chopped cremini or button mushrooms
  • 1 cup other mushrooms of your choice; we used shitake, sliced thinly
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup vegetable broth or mushroom rehydration liquid
  • 1 7-ounce can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 1 medium-sized roasted and cubed delicata squash 
  • 1 15-ounce cup black beans
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
For the vegan tamale dough: 
  • 30 corn husks, soaked in water for 1-2 hours or overnight
  • 6 cups masa harina
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups coconut oil
  • 1.5 cups mushroom rehydration liquid
  • More rehydration liquid or water as needed

Procedure for making Tamales

Start by soaking your corn husks in warm water for about 45 minutes and rehydrating your dehydrated mushrooms by covering with water for about 30 minutes. Reserve the mushroom rehydration liquid. 

Making the mushroom tamale filling: 

  1. Roughly slice your rehydrated mushrooms in pieces
  2. Sauté the mushrooms and shallots until the shallots are soft. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper. 
  3. Pulse the chipotles,  garlic, cilantro, cumin, and vegetable broth together in a food processor.
  4. Add the squash, black beans, chipotle sauce to the mushroom mixture and stir to combine. Add more salt and pepper to taste. 
  5. Mix in the kale and simmer the entire mixture for 10 minutes and set aside to cool while you make your tamale dough. 

Making the tamale dough: 

  1. Mix together the masa, salt, and baking powder
  2. Using a stand mixer, whip your coconut oil until creamy.  
  3. Add the mushroom liquid and mix further.
  4. Now it’s time to add the dry mixture to the coconut oil mixture. Incorporate the masa mixture a little at a time until it is thoroughly combined. 
  5. The dough should have the texture of a thick paste. If it is too dry, add more liquid as needed. Test a small scoop, by pressing it between your hands. If it holds form, you know it is ready!

How to assemble your tamales: 

vegan mushroom and black bean tamales
  1. Pull your corn husks from the water and lie them out on a towel. Use another towel to pat the inside of each, so the husk isn’t too wet for the masa mixture to stick to it. 
  2. Holding the husk in one hand, take about  ¼ cup scoop of the tamale dough and drop it on the smoother side of the corn husk. Smooth it out over the top ¾ of the husk (the narrow side is the bottom), leaving about an eighth-inch of space around the outer edges. 
  3. Add a few tablespoons of the filling along the center of the tamale dough and begin to wrap your tamal. 
  4. Use both hands to fold the husk from one long edge to the other, pressing lightly, so the two sides of masa stick together, enveloping the filling. Roll the the remaining loose husk over the top. Fold the bottom (narrow) side of the husk up over the rolled portion to secure.
  5. Optional, tie the tamal with smaller strips of corn husk to secure. 

To cook your tamales: 

Use a pot and basket steamer to steam your tamales. Add a couple of inches of water to the bottom of the pot, followed by the open basket steamer. Heat the water until it is nearly boiling and then turn it down to simmer. Line the steamer with your tamales, positioning them vertically, with the open end facing up. Steam for about 45 minutes. You’ll want to test a tamale to ensure the masa pulls away from the corn husk. If it does, you are good to go. If not, steam them a bit longer. 

To serve your vegan mushroom tamales:

Now that you have a wonderful vegan tamale recipe, you are going to want to make double or triple batches of this stuff and host your own tamalada. Once you’ve steamed them, you can either eat them right away with a bit of crema (or a vegan substitute), salsa, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime or you can freeze them for a quick meal another time.