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first experienced the wonder that is a tostada in a Mexican restaurant
in Philadelphia that had been hailed as "Best of Philly." I
expected it to be something like an enchilada. To my surprise, what I
got was basically a salad on top of a tortilla. But with fresh
mozzarella, crisp lettuce, and spicy beans, I was instantly hooked.
This recipe approximates the
kind of tostadas you would get in a restaurant, adjusted to fit a recent
grad's budget. What makes it the "best" is that you can add
anything you like to suit your particular tastes. This version is
vegetarian, but I see no reason why you couldn't fry up some ground beef
in a separate pan and add it to the beans. Some restaurants serve
tostadas with salad dressing; I prefer guacamole.
10" flour tortilla shells (one per person is generally enough)
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic (depending on size), minced
1 can black beans
hot sauce of your choice (preferably one with some sort of devil or
burning skull on the label)
lettuce, loosely chopped --
green leaf is my favorite but, again, it's your call
2 medium tomatoes, diced
cheese of your choice -- Monterey jack works well, or you can buy those
pre-shredded cheese bags with flavors like "Mexican" or
sour cream (optional)
fresh cilantro (optional) -- chopped roughly
time 30 minutes
serves 2, or 1 with plenty of
Get a big frying pan, one with deep sides. Heat about an inch of oil in
the pan. When a water droplet tossed from a safe distance into the pan
sizzles, the oil is ready. Cook each tortilla individually for about 1
minute on each side. It should puff up, then get slightly crispy, but
don't let it brown.
the tortillas and place between paper towels (to absorb oil). Keep the
fire burning. Dump at least 3/4 of the oil into a jar to be discarded,
leaving enough to coat the bottom of the frying pan. Toss in the onions
and heat until translucent, adding garlic about halfway through. When
the onions are soft and clear, dump in the can of beans -- do not drain
the beans! Most of the liquid will cook off anyway, and it's nice to
have that gloopy mess at the end. Trust me.
the beans. Add hot sauce to taste. At this point, you can add anything
you like; the essential ingredients are already there. Try spices like
cumin and coriander, chopped bell peppers, corn, whatever you think
would work. For an upscale adventure, the Moosewood cookbook suggests
adding the juice of an orange, then letting the orange rind cook in the
pan for a little while with the beans.
the beans are heating, prepare the toppings: Roughly chop the lettuce
and tomato. Grate the cheese.
the tostadas. I usually put the lettuce and tomato down on top of the
tortilla first, followed by a pool of beans in the center, topped with
cheese, then sour cream, guacamole, and salsa. For a professional touch,
fresh cilantro on top makes this dish simply amazing.
Ah. My mouth waters just
thinking about it.
at an office during the week, and works on her tan on the weekends. She
lives in New York City.
. laze . home.