Anna Zepaltas’s mother would not have chosen to fill tamales with unorthodox ingredients like kale. But with an abundance of kale in her CSA box, Anna was desperate to find new ways to use it. “My mom uses epazote, and the taste really reminds me of kale,” she says. Slideshow: Fantastic Kale Recipes 

Food & Wine
October 2012


© Eric Wolfinger

Recipe Summary

2 hrs
5 hrs
about 30 tamales


Ingredient Checklist


Soften the corn husks
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the corn husks, remove from the heat and let stand, turning the husks once or twice, until softened, about 2 hours. Drain the corn husks and shake off as much water as possible.

make the filling
  • In a heatproof bowl, soak the porcini in the boiling water until softened, 15 minutes; drain. Rinse the porcini, then finely chop them.

  • In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes. Stir in the porcini, shiitake and cremini. Add the chiles and garlic and cook, stirring, until tender and lightly browned, 10 minutes.

  • Add the kale, season with salt and pep-per and cook until wilted. Add the stock and wine and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the kale is very tender, about 30 minutes. Add the lime zest and juice and cook over high heat until the liquid evaporates. Remove from the heat and let the filling cool, then stir in the queso fresco and cilantro and season with salt and pepper.

Instructions Checklist
Instructions Checklist
Fill, fold and steam the tamales
  • Select 30 of the largest husks without tears or large holes. Arrange 1 husk on a work surface with the narrow end pointing away from you. On the wide end, spread 3 tablespoons of the Tamale Dough in a 5-by-3-inch rectangle, leaving a 1/2-inch border of husk at the bottom. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the cooled filling in the center of the Tamale Dough. Fold in the long sides of the husk, overlapping them to enclose the filling. Fold the narrow end toward you, over the tamale; it will be open at the wide end. Stand the tamale, open end up, in a very large steamer insert. Repeat with the remaining corn husks, Tamale Dough and filling.

  • Fill the bottom of the steamer with 4 inches of water and bring to a boil. Add the tamales, spread some of the remaining corn husks over the top and cover with the lid; wrap foil around the edge if necessary to make a tight seal. Steam the tamales over moderately low heat for 1 1/2 hours. Uncover and let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Make Ahead

The uncooked tamales can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month; steam them while still frozen.


Dried corn husks are available at specialty food shops, Latin American markets and online at

Suggested Pairing

Cherry-scented Sonoma Pinot Noir.