Holiday Pastel De Choclo

IMG_7842Here is a healthy version of a famous Chilean dish that is great to make for the holidays.  Think of a Shepard’s Pie version where the crust is made out of corn (choclo) rather than mashed potatoes and with warming spices like cinammon and cumin.  Although traditionally this pastel is made with chicken, this version is kept vegetarian adding your choice of white beans or chickpeas and lots of veggies.  The corn crust is not vegan as it has some eggs and butter for richness,  but hey, it’s a holiday celebration!.  One can definitely do much worse this time of the year! If you want to keep it vegan, omit the crust or perhaps test a vegan cornbread batter on top (and tell me how it goes!). Happy Holidays!

PASTEL DE CHOCLO

Makes about 8 to 10 servings

For the stuffing:

1 and 1/4 cup low sodium vegetable stock or water (separated)
1/4 cup dry sherry wine
1 large onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 zuchinni, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1 large can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tsp ground cinammon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 cup cooked chickpeas or white beans
1/2 cup sliced olives
2 tbsp capers, finely chopped
2 tbsp raisins
Salt and Pepper to taste

To make the stuffing:

Heat a large pan over medium heat and add 1/4 cup of vegetable stock and the sherry wine. Bring to a simmer and add the onion, bell pepper, carrots and jalapeno and steam-saute mixing with a wooden spoon from time to time until the vegetables are soft but not brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add zucchini, squash, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf, spices, raisins and corn and chickpeas. Season lightly with salt and pepper, add the extra cup of vegetable stock and bring to a light simmer. Add olives and capers and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed and allow to cool. MIxture should be “soupy”.

Place stuffing on a 15X10 inch baking dish and set aside. Make sure to keep about an inch of space on the top to add the batter.  Reserve any extra stuffing for another use (blended makes a great soup base!).

For the Crust

1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1/4 cup milk
1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup wholewheat flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
fresh pepper to taste

To make the Crust:

Preheat oven to 350 F

Sautee the corn with the butter and thyme on a pan over medium heat, just until fragrant, about 4 minutes, and season with pepper. Allow mixture to cool. Meanwhile sift flour, baking powder and salt over a bowl and set aside. When corn mixture is room temperature cool, place milk, egg and egg yolk and corn in a blender and blend well. You may need to turn off the blender and use a spatula or wooden spoon to mix the ingredients in the blender a couple of times to allow mixture to blend well. Add wet corn mixture into bowl with the flower mixture and toss lightly with a spatula until well incorporated and no longer lumpy but avoid mixing too much to keep mixture “fluffy”. Drizzle mixture over the stuffing, it should have the consistency of a lightly thicker pancake batter. Spread as best you can with a spatula. You need not fully cover the whole dish with the batter.

Bake pastel for about 35 minutes or until crust is firm and cooked through and beginning to get golden in color. Allow to cool lightly before serving.

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