Vegan Corn Casserole

A very traditional Chilean dish in summer is what we call ” Pastel de Choclo” which means “corn cake” literally, but is more a casserole than a cake. Is one of those “Iconic” dish that you immediately recall when anyone ask: what food is very Chilean? And everyone loves it!  Is made from fresh corns which are processed in to a sweet paste, and a “stuffing” made with beef, onions, raisins, olives, hard boil eggs, and pieces of chicken.

As a vegan I’ve always think that I will never eat something similar again, but the thing is: Of course it will not be the same! but after some time in this journey, maybe I don’t want to have the same food, I don’t want my “pastel de Choclo” to be the same as what I’ve ate in that time, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like it now.

So to celebrate the spring’s beginning, I’ve decide to make a vegan corn casserole with many vegan goodness inside, and I can tell this recipe will be so delicious as any “pastel de choclo”, and it will  be better since there is no animal products in it.

To make a Chilean vegan corn casserole we will need to mimic the kind of corn we have in Chile. This variety of corn is bigger in almost everything compared to the corn that is sold in United States: It has bigger kernels, more starch, and in my opinion a better and different taste. So we’ll need to use fine corn meal to make a rich and thick paste from fresh corns. All the other replacements are every animal product the original recipe has: Meats, eggs, and milk. And the only one ingredient that I’ll just omit is hard boil eggs.

So here is the recipe:

Vegan Corn Casserole

  • Servings: 4 to 6 people
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Stuffing Ingredients:

2 Big onions in cubes

4  Garlic cloves, minced

2 Cups of vegan ground “beef”

1 Pkg Mushrooms, chopped in cubes

1 Cup vegan “chicken” strips

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tsp oregano

1/2 Tsp cumin

1/2 Tsp black pepper

1/2 Can of black olives

2 Tbsp raisins

1 Tsp of salt

Paste Ingredients:

6 Fresh yellow corn

1 Cup of fine corn flour

1 Cup of plant based milk

1 Tbsp vegan butter

1 Tbsp of dried basil or a hand full of fresh basil leaves

1 Tsp of salt

1 Tbsp sugar cane

Making the stuffing:

  • In a skillet at medium high heat start making the base with chopped onions, minced garlic, and the vegan “beef”.
  • Once the onion looks translucent, add mushrooms, soy sauce, oregano, cumin, black pepper and salt. Lower the heat to low, and let it cook for about 3 minutes.
  • Add the raisins and black olives, and remove from the heat. Set aside until assembly moment.

Making the paste:

  • After getting all the kernels off the cob, place them in a blender along with the plant based milk, (basil if you are using fresh), 1 Tablespoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt and  blend it until gets very smooth. From this you will have 6 heaping cups of fresh corn paste.
  • Add 1 cup of fine corn meal and blend it again until there is no lumps.
  • In deep sauce pan pour you paste along with 1 Tbsp of vegan butter and cook it at medium low heat, constantly stirring. This will take about 30 minutes. I do not recommend rush your paste, since is very easy to get lumps or burn it. So please do not let the paste unattended.
  • Once starts thickening you can add the dried basil (if you are not using fresh basil), and adjust the salt to your taste. Keep cooking it until it gets very thick, like a pancake consistency. This could take about 25 minutes.

Assembly:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F
  • In a casserole spread your stuffing evenly, and over that place pieces of vegan “chicken” strips.
  • Pour on top the corn paste, and once to get everything covered, sprinkle some sugar to have a nice golden crust.
  • Bring to the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until it gets golden brown. All will depends on your oven temperature. Also you can use the broiler for a couple of minutes to get a bold crust.
  • Remove from the oven a let it set for about 210 minutes before serving, is very likely that if served immediately after remove from the oven, the piece will fall apart.

And there you have it, a vegan, delicious and creamy Chilean Corn casserole, AKA “pastel de choclo”. It takes a little bit of work making the paste, but I promise: It worth it!

So creamy, savory and sweet, full of richness, the olives makes such a delicious surprise to the bites, balanced with the sweet from raisins.  You have to try it! Everybody needs a “pastel de choclo” in their life!

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