HomeUncategorized Dr. Dave’s Favorite Butternut Tamales With Pepita Sauce

Dr. Dave’s Favorite Butternut Tamales With Pepita Sauce

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Dr. Dave’s Favorite Butternut Tamales With Pepita Sauce

Butternut Tamales with flavorful Pepita Sauce over an array of seasoned black beans, topped with cilantro, pickled onions and crunchy watermelon radishes! A flavorful and healthy vegetarian dinner. 
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time1 hour
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 6 people


  • 17 corn husks

Butternut Filling

  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 poblano peppers diced
  • 5 garlic gloves chopped
  • 2 cups cooked butternut squash mashed with a fork
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp cumin

Tamale Dough

  • 3 cups masa harina
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 3/4 cup veggie or chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Pepita Sauce

  • 1/2 onion/poblano mixture
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

Seasoned Black Beans


  • Pre-cook butternut squash
  • Soak corn husks in a large bowl of warm tap water. (30 minutes, or overnight in the fridge)
  • Make the Tamale Dough: In a medium bowl mix masa harina flour (do not use cornmeal) salt, cumin and baking powder well. Add 2 3/4 cups broth and oil. Mix well with a wooden spoon to mix until incorporated well. If the dough feels dry or crumbly add a little more broth or water, just a little at a time until the dough is soft and pliable. Use a clean hand to knead the dough for a couple of minutes. Set aside. If the dough feels overly wet or sticky, add a little more masa harina.
  • Make the Butternut filling: In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat and add onion and pasilla peppers, saute for 5-7 minutes. Add garlic. Cook until tender and golden. Place half of this mixture in a blender (for the Pepita sauce) and save the other half for the filling. In a medium bowl, mash the cooked butternut with a fork, then add 1 cup (or half) of the cooked onion/pasilla/ garlic mixture. Stir in the cheese, salt and cumin. Set aside. ( You could do this ahead and refrigerate)
  • Assemble the tamales: Place a soaked corn husk on the counter, pat the inside dry with a towel, spread 1/4 cup masa dough using a spoon, or wet fingers (just dip your fingers into the warm corn husk water) pat into a 5 x 5 square, two inches from the pointy end. (See photos.) Place 2 rounded tablespoons of filling in the middle, vertically, (see photos). Roll the cornhusk from side to side- with the idea of joining the outer edges of the masa dough so it completely encloses the filling. Fold the pointy end towards the seam and place on the counter, seam side down. Repeat with all.
  • Steam or pressure cook: In an Instant pot, large pot (with strainer) or double boiler, place the strainer basket in the bottom, and add 1-2 cups water (just to the bottom of the strainer). Lay the few remaining corn husks down as a barrier. Place tamales over the husks, vertically, open side up either leaning against the side or towards the middle (with a ball of foil in the middle – if your pot is too big.) If using an Instant Pot, pressure cook on high for 25 minutes, and naturally release. Open the pot and let stand 15 mins before opening the tamale- so they firm up. Important! ( Alternatively If using a pot on the stove, place in a steamer, with water in the bottom, bring to a simmer, cover tightly, and steam on low heat for 55-60 minutes.)
  • Make the Peptita Sauce: while the tamales are steaming make the sauce by placing the remaining ingredients into the blender with the cooked onion/chili mixture. Blend until silky smooth. If sauce feels overly thick, add a little more water to thin. Place in a saucepan to heat up right before serving.
  • Heat and season the black beans: Add everything to a pot or skillet and gently stir and warm. Season well with salt and pepper. If you like spicy, add ground a pinch of ground chipotle.
  • To serve. Open the corn husks and place warm tamales over a bed of seasoned black beans. Top with 2-3 tablespoons of Pepita sauce. Garnish with radishes, cilantro, sprouts, scallions, toasted pumpkin seeds, and/or pickled red onions. Or top with Mexican Slaw. Sprinkle with more queso fresco cheese if you like.

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