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Cheesy Spicy Mexican Tamale Casserole

What you need: 

[u]Crust[/u]:
1 (18-ounce) tube prepared polenta [u]"Cheese" Sauce[/u]:
2 cups grated vegan cheese (shredded soy jalapeno cheese is best)*
1 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk
2 teaspoons garlic powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
dry garlic chutney, to taste (optional) [u]Filling[/u]:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
minced garlic, to taste
1 (8-ounce) package tempeh (Trader Joe's three grain tempeh is best)
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can corn, drained and rinsed
1 (7.75-ounce) can tomato sauce (El Pato salsa fresca - the yellow can - is best)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 (1.3-ounce) package taco seasoning
1/2 cup grated vegan cheese (shredded soy jalapeno cheese is best)*

What you do: 

1. [u]Crust[/u]: Mash the polenta in the bottom of the pan sprayed with non-stick spray to form a crust. Set aside.
2. [u]"Cheese" Sauce[/u]**: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine all "cheese" sauce ingredients. Melt slowly into a sauce, stirring every now and then until a soupy, creamy consistency. (I usually do this while the filling is cooking so it's all ready at the same time.)
3. [u]Filling[/u]: In a large frying pan, heat vegetable oil and saute the onions and garlic until golden. Crumble in tempeh, then stir to incorporate the onions; cook for a minute or so, until getting brown. Add the tamari and stir until toasty brown. Add the black beans and corn. Add more oil if it's looking a little dry. Add a bit of the tomato sauce, working it in so everything is coated evenly, using as much or as little as needed to keep the mixture moist, but not supersaturated. Add cilantro and taco seasoning; stir until evenly distributed. (Use only 1/2 packet if you want to keep the heat down to a nice spice level. If you like napalm, use the whole thing.) Keep adding a little bit of tomato sauce at a time to keep it all moist (you may not use the whole can). Saute 3 to 5 minutes.
4. [u]Assembly[/u]: In a 9" x 13" pan, sprinkle a liitle cheese on top of the polenta, then layer 1/2 of the filling on top of the polenta, and spoon 1/2 of the cheese sauce over the mix. Layer the rest of the filling on top of the cheese sauce, and then spoon the rest of the cheese sauce on top of that. Sprinkle the rest of the shredded cheese and chopped cilantro on top.
5. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is nice and toasty.
* I get shredded soy jalapeno cheese from the Milk Pail in Mountain View, California - it's awesome!!!!
** I don't know how other soy cheeses melt so your sauce may need more tinkering to get a sauce-like consistency. I swear by the Milk Pail's soy cheeses, they melt like the real thing and they make awesome pizzas, too. My carnivorous friends can't tell the difference. So contact me for more info on soy cheeses, I may be bribed to FedEx you some.
Source of recipe: I was playing around with cheese sauces and came up with this. I wanted some cheesy spicy comfort food and voila!

Preparation Time: 
20 minutes, Cooking time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 
30 minutes
Servings: 
Recipe Category: 

SO HOW'D IT GO?

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