Traditional Chilean pastel de choclo is a fantastic casserole of seasoned beef, raisins, and olives (similar to the filling for the famous Chilean empanadas de pino), topped with a thick layer of creamed corn.This vegetarian version has the creamed corn layer (the best part), but substitutes a ragout of vegetables and yellow potatoes in place of the beef filling. The raisins, olives, and slices of hard boiled egg are optional but traditional. Queso fresco cheese adds a bit of protein, and cream cheese mixed with creamed corn adds a bit of richness. This is a delicious casserole, suitable as a main course or perhaps a vegetarian alternative for the Thanksgiving table.
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Yield: Serves 4-6 as a main dish.
- 1 large onion
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 yellow potatoes
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1-2 cups vegetable broth
- 4 zucchini squash, or yellow crookneck squash
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 tomato
- 1 small chile pepper
- 10 ears of fresh corn, or about 4 cups of frozen corn kernels
- 1/2 cup milk or cream
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 3/4 cup crumbled queso fresco cheese (optional)
- 1/3 cup raisins (optional)
- 1/3 cup sliced green olives (optional)
- 3 hard boiled eggs (optional)
- Prepare vegetables: Peel and dice onion. Dice bell peppers, removing white inside parts and seeds. Chop tomato, removing seeds. Slice the zucchini into thin rounds and cut rounds in half. Mince the chile pepper. Remove the corn from the cob with a sharp knife or a corn stripping tool. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1/2 inch cubes.
- Add the olive oil and the butter to a large heavy skillet. Add the chopped onion and cook over medium heat until onion is soft and fragrant and turning golden, about 5 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and the cumin and sauté potatoes, stirring, until starting to brown. Add 1 cup of vegetable broth and simmer potato cubes, stirring frequently. Check for doneness and add more broth as necessary until potatoes are tender. Once potatoes are cooked, continue to stir until remaining broth liquid has cooked away (add another tablespoon of olive oil if necessary to prevent potatoes from sticking to the pan).
- Add the chopped tomato, zucchini, bell peppers, minced chile pepper, and 1/2 cup of the corn kernels. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are soft and liquid has cooked away. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat. Stir in raisins and olives. Peel and slice hard boiled eggs into wedges and add to vegetable mixture if desired. Stir in queso fresco cheese.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place remaining corn kernels in a blender with the milk or cream and cornstarch. Puree until smooth. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste.
- Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a saucepan. Add the corn mixture from the blender and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, while mixture simmers gently and begins to thicken, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cream cheese.
- Using a slotted spoon (leaving any excess liquid behind), transfer the vegetable mixture to a casserole dish. Spread the corn mixture on top of the vegetables in a thick layer.
- Place the casserole in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until casserole is bubbly and hot, and the corn layer is starting to turn golden brown.
- Serve warm with a salad and bread.