So in case you are wondering…. Hu:ñ (pronounced HOOONya) is corn and Pasti:l (pronounced pasTEEEEra) is pie in O’odham language. The Spanish Pastel de Elote (passTELL day ay-LOW-tay) essentially means pie made of fresh corn. In English it goes by a more pedestrian name — sweet corn casserole–but it is just as delish.
It’s like a slightly sweet tamale pie or casserole–full of protein—easy to make! Tia Marta here to share a fun fast recipe using our local Native summer corn in its fresh and dried forms….
This ancient and honorable 60-days-to-ripen corn was genetically selected long ago by the Desert People, and almost lost in the mid-20th Century due to agricultural “faddism.” Thanks to a few traditional gardening families and to NativeSeedsSEARCH gardeners and seed-bankers, a handful of kernels were saved and multiplied through that bottleneck of time, so that now seeds are available for many farms to grow this amazing corn. San Xavier Farm alone now has ACRES producing perhaps TONS of ears to feed a growing population–and a community also growing in appreciation of this amazingly nutritious and desert-adapted grain. Imagine a protein-packed grain that can handle the heat of the Sonoran Desert summer and can ripen in 60 days! In food production terms, that’s like zero to sixty in less than 10 seconds!
A group of us volunteers from Mission Garden recently went to help hand-harvest traditional Tohono O’odham 60-day corn at a community picking in the productive fields of San Xavier Coop Farm. Harvesting this sacred corn together inspired me to prepare a dish to share with dear friends.
The recipe calls for fresh corn cut off the cob, but you can easily substitute canned corn. Since our household is trying to “go local” as much as possible, I used flour milled from BKWFarms’ organic white Sonora wheat, eggs from the happy chickens at Mission Garden, and local naturally-grown corn and cornmeal. I used a sunny day and a solar oven!
Muff’s Hu:ñ Pasti:l or Pastel de Elote Recipe:
Preheat solar oven or conventional oven to 350F degrees–(solar may be less).
Grease and lightly flour one large (or 2 smaller) baking dish(es) or iron skillet.
Cream together: 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter. and ½ cup agave syrup “nectar” or sugar
Beat in 4 eggs.
Add and mix thoroughly into the moist mixture:
1 cup homemade salsa, OR 1 can Herdez Salsa Casera, OR 1 cup diced green chiles
1 pint fresh corn kernels cut off the cob (ca.3 ears), OR 1 16oz. canned corn (I use organic non-GMO)
1 cup shredded longhorn/cheddar cheese
Sift together, then stir into the corn/cheese mixture:
1 cup white Sonora wheat flour (or other whole grain flour)
1 cup cornmeal (non-GMO)
4 tsp. baking powder
¼-1/2 tsp. sea salt
Pour mixture into greased and floured baking dish(es).
Reduce heat to 300F and Bake 50+ minutes in conventional or solar oven, or until “pie” tests done with toothpick. (Solar may take longer.)
This recipe serves 8 graciously, piping hot or chilled, for dinner, lunch or snack. Hu:ñ Pasti:l (Pastel de Elote) can be refrigerated for a week-plus, then sliced and re-zapped in microwave for quick easy servings. Or, it can be sealed and frozen for longer storage.
White Sonora Wheat flour is available at NativeSeedsSEARCH, San Xavier Coop Farm, BKWFarms, and Barrio Bread. You can come soon to see O’odham 60-day corn in the field at Tucson’s Mission Garden, soon to be harvested. While there you can pick up fresh eggs from their heirloom chickens.
[Also check out a totally different dish of sweet mole cornbread–entirely different personality–made with many of these same maize ingredients by Savor-blog-Sister Amy in an earlier post.]
Enjoy these flavors and nutrition, and rejoice in a local monsoon desert crop!