Try a twist on tamale pie with this Fall favorite Gluten Free Vegetarian Cornbread Skillet. It’s one pot comfort food at its finest!
I am a sucker for cornbread. Does anyone remember Boston Market and their cornbread??? It was seriously my favorite.
Now I haven’t been to a Boston Market for years, so I’m not quite sure if it’s standards on quality food have gone downhill or if they still have deliciously sweet cornbread with speckles of fresh (probably canned, let’s be real) corn kernels throughout. And spread with a little butter and a drizzle of honey? Heaven!
Back when I was a preteen and ate whatever I wanted without caring about nutrition, I would down three to four of those little cornbread squares (rectangles, maybe?) and still feel like my mom hadn’t purchased enough. Nowadays I realize that sweeter cornbread borders on the line between nutritious dinner side and dessert, and limit myself to just one glorious muffin or square a meal. It’s just sooooooo good!
My favorite way to eat cornbread is with chili. You can dip it, dunk it, or scoop it and it just seems to make any chili that much better. Or to avoid any crumbly mess, you can just break it into pieces right into your chili and shovel it into your mouth with a spoon. Pretty much that’s how I choose to eat it, which was basically the inspiration for this one pot, easy weeknight meal.
This Gluten Free Vegetarian Pumpkin Cornbread Skillet is the perfect combo of a taco seasoned, chili like filling topped with a pumpkin spiced cornbread batter and baked to a golden crispy perfection.
And to take this comfort food one step further into savory bliss, I added some shredded pepper-jack cheese to the cornbread batter and then sprinkled some sharp cheddar cheese on top. Yeah, that tasted yummy alright.
Speaking of the cornbread. You are probably wondering, “What the heck is pumpkin cornbread?!” Never heard of it??? Well, neither had I.
I thought I had posted a recipe on GoodLife Eats for gluten free cornbread, but when I searched Katie’s sight, I realized that…nope…I hadn’t. Instead, this recipe for pumpkin cornbread (click here for her recipe) popped up, and I was instantly intrigued. You guys, with a few alterations to make this gluten free friendly, this cornbread turned out delicious!
The cornbread batter has a mixture of pumpkin puree and warm Fall spices to give it just enough of that cozy flavor without being all too sweet. It was the perfect match to balance out the spice of the filling. I will be making this cornbread for years to come!
And speaking of the filling, it is basically a vegetarian filling of sauteed onions, carrots, bell peppers, and zucchini simmered in a combination of McCormick taco seasoning and lime juice. I added a can of black beans for some protein and more substance to hold up against the cornbread topping. It’s kind of a cross between a chili and vegetarian fajita filling. Whatever hybrid it is, it’s delicious. No questions asked.
The other great thing about this meal is the one pot clean up. I love that this can all be prepared in just one pot (a cast iron skillet) that transfers straight from the stove top to the oven. Aside from the cutting board and mixing bowl from the cornbread batter, there is not much mess to be made when making this dinner.
And if you pre-cut the veggies before you start heating the skillet, you will have plenty of time to whip up the cornbread batter while those veggies are sauteing. If you need even more of a time saver, sift all the dry cornbread ingredients together beforehand sometime during the day so that when it comes time to cooking, all you have to do is whisk together the wet ingredients and dump in the dry mixture. Easy as pie…taco pie, that is.
I’m thinking this is going to be our pre-festivities Halloween meal this year. I usually love to make some kind of soup or chili before my kids beg their neighbors for goodies, but this is an adequate substitution. I mean, who doesn’t want a little bit of pumpkin to warm the soul on this evening of ghoulish delight?!
What is your Halloween meal tradition?
- For the filling:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ onion, diced
- 2 small carrots, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- salt and pepper for seasoning
- 1 zucchini, chopped into bite sized pieces
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 can black beans
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- ⅓ cup gluten free taco seasoning (I used McCormick brand)
- For the cornbread topping (adapted from Good Life Eats):
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- ½ cup milk (I used 1%)
- ½ stick of butter (4 tablespoons), melted or coconut oil
- ½ cup canned 100% pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ cup sweet sorghum flour
- ¼ cup brown rice flour
- ¼ cup white rice flour
- ¼ cup potato starch
- 1 tablespoon tapioca starch
- ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
- ½ cup cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ cup shredded pepper-jack cheese
- ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- diced tomatoes
- sliced olives
- sweet corn
- sour cream
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Once oil is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles, add diced onion, carrots, and bell pepper. Season with a few shakes of salt and pepper. Stir and cook slightly under medium heat for 6 minutes or until onions are tender. Add zucchini and garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.
- Add black beans (with liquid from can), lime juice, and taco seasoning. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
- To make cornbread topping, in a medium sized mixing bowl whisk together egg, milk, melted butter, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
- In a smaller separate bowl, whisk together sorghum flour, brown rice flour, white rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until all mixture is wet and well combined. Fold in shredded pepper-jack cheese.
- Scoop tablespoon dollops of batter over veggie mixture, spreading out evenly over the top. Sprinkle top with shredded sharp cheddar cheese.
- Bake pan in oven at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until filling is bubbly and cornbread is golden brown and cooked through (should bounce back at touch of a finger and toothpick inserted into center come out clean).
- Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. Garnish with desired toppings.