Pastel de choclo con queso or pastel de humita is a savory baked fresh corn and cheese cake or casserole dish from South America. In Ecuador this is the time of the year where everyone is making humitas with fresh corn. In case you aren’t familiar with them, humitas are savory steamed corn and cheese cakes. You could say that they are like tamales made with fresh corn, but be careful not to call them tamales or you might get some people very upset. Obviously, this time of the year, or any time during the winter/spring, is not the best time to find fresh corn with the full husks in the US, but I still crave a taste of humitas. As a result I decided to make a pastel de humita o choclo con queso. This recipe uses the same ingredients as my mom’s humita recipe. However, instead of wrapping the humita mix in a corn husk and steaming them, I put the mix in a baking pan, with a layer of cheese in the middle-, and bake it. Even during the summer months, when making humitas I’ve sometimes run out of corn husks and still have extra humita mix leftover, so I end up baking the leftovers. And yes, I’ll admit that I’ve also prepared this when I really wanted humitas, but was too lazy (or carishina) to deal with the whole humita wrapping process. This pastel de humita can be made with fresh corn, which can sometimes be found around this time of the year (but usually without the husks), but also with frozen corn.
I served this recently at a party and was trying to think about how to call in English. One of my friends said it reminded them of a corn quiche, which is ironic because I was about to call it a fresh corn casserole (to make it more relatable for my American friends, especially the ones from South). Anyway we had a discussion about it, and at the end it was decided that the South Americans would call it pastel de choclo or pastel de humita, the Mexicans would call it pastel de elote, and the Americans/Italians could call it the delicious cheesy corn dish; , though savory baked corn and cheese cake could also work.
My Ecuadorian version of pastel de choclo or pastel de humita is not the same as the popular Chilean pastel de choclo. The traditional Chilean version has a meat filling and the corn mix is actually cooked before being baked. During the summer in Ecuador we made humitas at my mom’s place and I met a cool lady from Australia who joined us in the humita making get together. She had made the Chilean pastel de choclo before and loved the tomato onion salsa called pebre that they serve it with. We coincidentally made some tomato and onion curtido that day, which is similar to pebre except that it doesn’t have spicy peppers or garlic, and it went great with the humitas. Just as with traditional humitas, you can also serve this with tree tomato or tamarillo hot sauce.
Pastel de choclo con queso or pastel de humita is a savory baked fresh corn and cheese cake or casserole dish from South America.
- 6 cups of corn kernels, from about 6-8 fresh ears of corn – can also use frozen corn kernels (defrost first)
- 3 cups of grated or crumbled cheese, mozzarella or a fresh farmers cheese, plus more for topping if desired
- 1 cup diced white onions, about ½ large onion
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- About 1 cup corn meal
- ¼ cup of heavy cream
- 2 eggs
- Salt to taste
- Tomato and onion curtido salsa
- Aji de tomate de arbol or tree tomato hot sauce
- Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
- Place the corn kernels, 1 cup of cheese, diced onions, crushed garlic, corn meal, cream, eggs, and salt in the food processor, mix until the corn is pureed.
- Pour half of the corn mix into a pre-greased rectangular oven mold.
- Add a layer of cheese using the 2 cups of grated cheese. Add another layer with the rest of the corn mix.
- Cover with foil and bake in a pre-heated oven for about 45 – 50 minutes. It can served directly as is. If you want the extra cheesy version, then add some more grated cheese on top and turn on the broiler until the cheese is melted and golden, about 5 minutes/
- Serve warm with tomato and onion curtido, tree tomato hot sauce, and aji criollo.