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Green Vegetable Tamales

green vegetable tamales. Photographed by Lauren Volo

Green Vegetable Tamales

Molly Shuster
Filling and bundling cornhusks takes a bit of practice, so don’t worry too much about how they look—just be sure to encase the filling totally. You will need a steamer basket for this recipe.


  • 1 6- ounce bag dried cornhusks
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ bunch Swiss chard 5 to 6 large leaves, stems and leaves separated and finely chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini diced
  • 2 large jalapeños stemmed, seeded, and minced (include seeds for additional heat, if desired)
  • 1 cup crumbled cotija cheese
  • 2 ½ cups masa harina finely ground corn flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
  • ¾ cup lard or vegetable shortening
  • Hot sauce for serving


  • Bring a large pot of water to boil. Remove from heat and add cornhusks. Weigh husks down with a plate or pot so they are totally submerged. Soak 30 minutes. Drain and rinse well with cold water.
  • While husks are soaking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and chard stems. Cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add zucchini and jalapeños and cook until softened, about 3 minutes more. Add chard leaves and cook until wilted, 2 minutes more. Cool mixture to room temperature, then stir in cotija. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  • Whisk together masa harina and salt. Add lard and 2 cups hot water and stir to combine.
  • Sort cornhusks by size and set aside the largest cornhusks. Line a steamer basket with a few of the smaller husks. Place basket in a large pot and fill pot with water until it just reaches the husks. Tear remaining smaller husks into thin strips to make ties for the tamales.
  • One at a time, lay the larger corn husks out flat, smooth side up. Add about ¼ cup masa dough and smear over the husk until ¼-inch-thick or less. Add 2 heaping tablespoons vegetable mixture to each husk. Fold up the bottom of the husk then fold in the sides and top to make a bundle and seal the filling. Tie at the top with one or two husk strips. The tamale will look like a little cinched pouch. Repeat with remaining husks, masa, and filling. Place tamales in a steamer basket, cover, bring water to a boil, then gently simmer until dough is tender and puffed, about 40 minutes. Serve with hot sauce.

Molly Shuster

Molly is a freelance food stylist, writer and recipe developer. She is one of the co-recipe editors of Gather Journal and has had her work published in various publications including Boston Magazine, Yankee Magazine, The New York Times, Food and Wine, Family Fun, The Boston Globe and Edible Vineyard, among others. Molly currently divides her time between New York and Boston.

Photographer Lauren Volo

New York City-based photographer Lauren Volo has been shooting our "One Cheese, Five Ways" feature for over a year—hard job, huh?

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