Tamale lovers & squash fanatics: Try pupusas!

So, I recently got quite carried away with the bounty of winter squash now gracing the front tables of the produce department, and came home with about a dozen, in several varieties. You’ll head about some others soon enough, but this recipe is simple as can be and incredibly frugal. I was browsing through my beloved copy of Vegetarian Planet by Didi Emmons (one of my favorite cookbooks), looking for new ideas, and came across something I’ve never tried: a masa and squash cake from El Salvador.

Being a tamale lover and, obviously, a squash maniac, I had to give it a try. It sounded like just the kind of comfort food I start craving this time of year. And I was right! Honestly, what it reminded me of quite a bit in texture and overall comfort snackiness was a knish, even though the filling is made with potatoes. Think of it as a Central American counterpart to this Eastern European treat.


2 delicata squashes (these are the lovely ones that look like huge yellow cucumbers with green stripes and ridges)
2 cups masa harina
1/2 cup shredded cheese: if you have smoked cheese on hand this would be best, but if not, use Monterrey Jack with 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt, fresh black pepper to taste
1 cup tepid water
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Halve the squashes lengthwise and remove the seeds. Bake on a cookie sheet or in a glass baking dish for 40 minutes, until very tender. Let cool a bit, then scoop the flesh into a mixing bowl and mash. In another mixing bowl, combine masa, cheese, paprika (if using) and salt and pepper, then add to the mashed squash. Add water to mixture and mix well.

Starting with a handful of dough that’s a bit smaller than a pool ball, form patties about 3-4 inches wide – this should create about 10.  Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the first 5 patties (or fewer, depending on the size of your skillet). Fry for about 5 minutes each side, or until deep golden brown and crispy on the outside (they will be soft inside). Repeat with remaining batch or two. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt and chives if desired.

Gluten-Free Bay also caught pupusa fever!
Dandysugar makes curtido, the spicy slaw that traditionally accompanies pupusas (I’ve got to try this next!)
Cake and Commerce got to make pupusas IN El Salvador!
Becky & the Beanstalk shares an El Salvadorean coffee cake

— posted by Anne


  1. says

    I am subscribing to your feed based on this recipe. Because of course, I don’t have enough blogs to read in my list of 50 bazillion. Looks super yummy!

    If you live in Utah or Arizona and don’t know about http://www.bountifulbaskets.org, you should. It’s like Produce Lovers Christmas every other week.

  2. says

    I don’t see why not! I should have mentioned that, in fact. The delicatas were lovely, though. Mmm. And I really want to try them with curtido (the spicy cabbage slaw).

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