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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

Nacatamales with Pineapple Pico de Gallo

When I realized that I neglected to line up a board member to bring dinner to our June meeting, I looked in the pantry and fridge and came up with nacatamales with pineapple pico de gallo! Done. This dish is the quintessential brutti ma buoni - 'ugly by good'! It really is a delicious mess.

Hailing from Central America, these are tamales wrapped and steamed in banana leaves instead of corn husks. I had just picked up a package of banana leaves on our family field trip to Seafood City; and I had a bag of blue corn masa harina. Then I used a hodge-podge of chicken and veggies for my filling. Easy peasy. My favorite part of this dish, though, are all the toppings, including a freshly made pico de gallo, crema, crumbled queso fresco, cilantro, and freshly squeezed lime juice.

Pineapple Pico de Gallo


  • 1 cup diced fresh pineapple

  • 1 cup diced tomato

  • 1/2 red onion, chopped

  • 1 jalapeño pepper, chopped

  • 2 to 3 sweet peppers, chopped

  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1 Tablespoon honey

  • 1/8 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

  • 18 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

  • freshly ground salt, as needed

  • freshly ground pepper, as needed


Place all of the ingredients - except for the salt and pepper - in a small mixing bowl. Blend gently and let stand for at least 15 minutes to blend flavors. To make this more spicy, adjust to use more jalapeno peppers.



  • 6 cups masa harina (as I mentioned, I had a blue corn masa harina)

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 1/4 cup vinegar (I used an apple cider vinegar)

  • 4 cups organic chicken broth

  • 2 cups chicken, diced

  • 1 Tablespoon taco seasoning (use your favorite brand or toss together chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and oregano)

  • 1 cup diced, sauteed onions

  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels, blanched

  • 1 cup diced, sauteed zucchini

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • banana leaves for wrapping

  • For garnish: crema, crumbled queso fresco, chopped fresh herbs (I used cilantro and green onions), and lime wedges


Toss together the chicken and taco seasoning until fully-coated. Sauté until no pink remains. Set aside.

For the masa: Mix the first five ingredients together in a bowl and stir till it comes together into a ball. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

For the filling: Fold the meat mixture, onions, corn kernels, black beans, and fresh cilantro into the masa to form the filling.

To assemble: Lay a banana leaf on a cutting board and spoon 3/4 cup of the filling into the center.

Fold the edges of the banana leaf over the stuffing and roll the banana leaf to form a packet.

Place the nacatamales in a large pot, suspended over water. Bring the water to a boil, then cover the pot tightly and steam for 60-70 minutes.

Each diner opens the banana leaf of his or her own nacatamal before eating. Garnish with the crema and fresh salsa.

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