Vegetarian Tamale Pie

Tamale Pie is a comfort food casserole at its best. Here we use a lentil-brown rice mixture instead of traditional ground beef. A good Meatless Monday choice.

After seven days of baking sweets and other carb-heavy food, I am ready for something savory! This family favorite Vegetarian Tamale Pie is the perfect foil for all the treats hanging around the kitchen. It makes a fair amount of filling food, so there are plenty of leftovers. The leftovers taste even better than when first made as the flavor intensifies with time. It allows me to be “dinner lazy.” Just add a quick salad or some sauteed zucchini and the meal is ready. An excellent selection for a Meatless Monday.

Below I include the directions for lentil-rice “hamburger.” Freeze the excess mixture for future use in other casseroles like shepherd’s pie, to stuff bell peppers or eggplant, or as a base for a big pot of vegetarian chili.

The recipe comes from my cookbook, Homestyle Favorites Made Meatless. Buy your copy on Etsy today!

12 Days of Baking Challenge

I may have bitten off more than I can chew – or bake – but please join me; for one day, three days, or all 12 days! We are baking something different each day between now and December 24th. It can be anything you want; sweet or savoy. You can try today’s recipe, or something else. Get more details here.

Please send along a picture of your creation, along with a link to the recipe if you like, and I will post as many photos as I can. Or, post your own on Instagram with the hashtag #STPbakingchallenge. Happy baking!

Vegetarian Tamale Pie

Tamale Pie is a comfort food casserole at its best. Here we use a lentil-brown rice mixture instead of traditional ground beef. A good Meatless Monday choice.


  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/3 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup green or brown lentils
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 14ounce can Mexican style stewed tomatoes pureed
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar or Colby cheese
  • 1 tube polenta
  • 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco cheese optional


  • First make the vegetarian ground beef: Bring the broth to boil in a 3 quart saucepan.
  • Add the brown rice and lentils. Reduce heat, and simmer until soft or even mushy, about 1/2 hour. Add more water if necessary to prevent sticking.
  • To make pie: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper and sauté until soft, 3-4 minutes.
  • Add 2 ½ cups of lentil-rice mixture to skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add chili powder, tomatoes, corn, and black olives to skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally until mixture is heated through.
    Add cheese to skillet. Stir until melted.
  • Spoon mixture into a greased 8 x 8 inch pan, OR a greased 9x 13 inch pan.
  • Chop polenta and scatter over top of casserole. Sprinkle with queso fresco cheese if desired.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
  • Serve as is or with salsa and chopped avocado.

What are you baking during these 12 Days of Baking Challenge? So far, we have made:

Day One: Cranberry Orange Biscotti

Day Two: White Fruitcake

Day Three: Blood Orange-Blueberry Muffins

Day Four: Oatmeal Chippers

Day Five: Sourdough Pfefferneusse Cookies

Day Six: Gingerbread Roll

Day Seven: Best Ever Sourdough Oatmeal Bread

by Renee Pottle

Renee Pottle, a freelance writer and Home Economist, is fanatic about all things food. She blogs about canning and food preservation at Find her professional food writing info at

December 20, 2020

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