Growing up in California and attending college in Texas has given me a LOVE for Mexican and TexMex foods. Whether it's carne asada, chile rellenos, fajitas, enchiladas, or burritos with chiles, I LOVE it all. It comes in a very close second only to barbecue. 🙂 Many of you know how I love BBQ.
Nothing Better than Homemade Tostadas
This recipe calls for 6 ingredients; corn tortillas, refried beans, shredded cheese, lettuce, avocado, and escabeche (pickled carrots, onions, and jalapenos). Tostadas are very easy to make and they are fast to put together. When I have all the ingredients on hand, I can usually put tostadas together in less than 10 minutes for my family of 5. We love tostadas as snacks and as a full meal with a side of Spanish rice. Since we like to eat real food here, I'm going to give you my recipes for tostada shells, refried beans, and escabeche. That way, you don't have to use canned ingredients, unless you want to.
Homemade Tostada Rounds/Shells for Tostadas
In most places, tostada shells are fried, flat, corn tortillas. In some places, they are also called chalupas. Now, you can find tostada shells precooked in most stores. You don't have to buy those! They are loaded with preservatives and extra not-so-fun ingredients. Get fresh corn tortillas and make your own tostadas!
12 corn tortillas, 3 tortillas per person
Place 3 tortilla shells side by side on a microwave safe plate. Be sure that each tortilla doesn't touch each other. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Flip each tortilla over and cook for an additional 1-3 minutes. Se sure to keep an eye on the tortillas. Cook time will vary with your oven. They will be done when they turn brown and are hard to the touch. Remove tortillas from microwave and repeat with remaining tortillas. If you don't have or want to use a microwave, you can toast your tortillas on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes. That's it!
Homemade Pinto Beans
For this recipe, you'll be using refried beans. I generally will make a large pot of pinto beans at least once a month. The cost savings between making them at home and store-bought is substantial. A 15oz can of pinto beans averages $1.25 to $1.50 per can. Organic varieties average $2 to $2.50. A pound of dried pinto beans costs about $3 and will yield about 6 cups or 96 ounces of cooked beans. Organic beans will be slightly higher. My recipe calls for just a few things and is easy to make. To help reduce gasiness, I add a 1×1 inch square of kombu or dried kelp. I read somewhere that adding kombu to beans will reduce gassiness. It seems to work for us and doesn't affect the flavor. You can find it in most oriental food sections or at an Asian market.
1 pound dried pinto beans
3 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 onion, diced
2 tablespoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 jalapeno or poblano pepper, deseeded and diced
1/2 cup mild salsa
2 tablespoons cilantro, dried or 1 small handful fresh, chopped
1×1 inch square of kombu (dried kelp), optional
2 tablespoons of epazote, optional
1. Rinse your beans in a large pot. Remove any dirt or stones that may be present. Cover with water so that the water level is at least 1 inch above the beans. Soak overnight.
2. Next day: drain the water and refill the pot with fresh water. You'll want the water level at least 1 inch above the beans again. Add remaining ingredients.
3. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook until beans are tender, about 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally. Remove kombu when finished.
4. You can serve immediately or refrigerate for later.
To make refried beans: place 2 cups of beans and cooking liquid in a sauce pan. Mash with potato masher. Cook over medium heat until you get a thick consistency.
Escabeche (Pickled Carrots, Onions, and Jalepenos)
Many of the Mexican restaurants around here serve escabeche and fresh tortillas until request in addition to the standard chips and salsa. We butter our tortillas and roll the pickled veggies up in it. It's a yummy appetizer to tide us over until our entrees arrive. You can find recipes online using escabeche with fish dishes. It is a popular condiment in Latin American and Spanish cuisine.
Last summer, I canned a few batches of escabeche with my garden's jalapenos. For me cooking is an art, but canning is a science. As a novice in canning, I won't can anything without a recipe. One of the books I bought to help me was Canning For A New Generation, Bold, Fresh Flavors For The Modern Pantry by Liana Krissoff's. I absolutely love this book. The escabeche and kosher dill pills are two of my favorite recipes. I wasn't blogging when I made my jars, so I don't have photos. Luckily, Canning Confessions used the same recipe as I did and blogged about it. You can find the recipe and directions at her website.
If you don't want to pickle and can your own, you can find ready-made varieties in the grocery store. If you can't, get a small can/jar of pickled jalepenos. Place the contents and juice in a plastic container. Add sliced carrots and allow refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The carrots will absorb the brine and pickle on their own. It's a fast and easy alternative to the original.
So now that you have my recipes for the ingredients, let's get to the tostadas themselves.
12 crisp corn tortilla/tostada shells
2 cups refried beans
1 cup shredded cheese; Monterrey jack, pepper jack, or Queso Fresco
2 cups shredded lettuce, I prefer green loose leaf
3-4 avocados, sliced
1 cup escabeche vegetables, sliced
To assemble: Spread refried beans evenly on each toasted corn tortilla. Sprinkle with cheese and lettuce. Top with sliced avocado and sliced escabeche vegetables if desired. You can top with salsa or pico de gallo if desired too.