My original intention was to get this post up in time for some of you to actually make these for Cinco de Mayo (for the hispanically challenged among you, that means “fifth of May,” not “bring out the Hellman’s”). But my previous post on why health food is unhealthy got a lot of comments, so I left it on the front page a little longer than planned. Oh well; you can always make these next year, or come to think of it, tomorrow, el seis de Mayo.
Funny that these are called tostadas, which literally means “toasted,” because that’s exactly what I have been on a lot of previous Cincos de Mayo. But not this year; it was a dry holiday in the No Meat Athlete household! My guess is that they’re called tostadas because the corn tortillas are fried (healthily, in canola oil of course) and then baked, so that they become nice and crispy. Yum! If there’s anything I like better than corn tortillas, it’s crispy corn tortillas. A word of advice when buying tortillas: check the ingredient list and make sure it’s short. Some of the bigger brands use LOTS of preservatives and fillers. I bought Mission, which uses three preservatives and a few gums, which is comparatively few. But I’m definitely in the market for a more natural corn tortilla. Any suggestions? (How about making them at home? Near impossible?)
I found a tostadas recipe to start from in a vegetarian cookbook, Claire’s Corner Copia Cookbook. In case you’re wondering, this is what I do for most recipes that I post: find something in a cookbook to start with, substitute to make it vegetarian, substitute to make it healthy, and make a few other changes based on my personal taste. If my version still looks a lot like the original, then I’ll cite the book and link to it. You dig? Claire’s, by the way, is a restaurant that my wife used to go to when she was in college and now raves about. So if ever you wake up and find yourself at Quinnipiac University, hit up Claire’s.
Tostadas are crispy corn tortillas topped with refried beans, salsa, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese. Healthy, natural stuff, and if you don’t want cheese you could skip it and not lose too much. I used some plain yogurt instead of the standard sour cream just to make it a little healthier, and I kicked these up with a little green jalapeno sauce since for me it’s gotta be hot to be Mexican.
I had some difficulty with the first batch of corn tortillas I tried to fry; I realized that the trick is to just barely coat the entire pan in oil and let it get really hot, almost until it’s smoking. I should have known this, since it applies to almost all frying. If your oil isn’t hot enough, your food will be greasy instead of crispy. And you might need to add oil or let what’s left in the pan get hot again before adding the next batch of tortillas. And don’t worry too much about frying in canola oil unless your goal is to lose a lot of weight quickly rather than to eat healthily. By now you should know what I think about calorie counting and nutrition facts.
These were awesome! Erin and I put them at 4 or 4.5 cows out of 5. Chopped jalapenos or chipotle in adobo might have made the tostadas a cinco (damn, would have been perfect on Cinco de Mayo!), but we didn’t realize that until we tasted them. Any way you like them, these come highly recommended by us. Happy Battle of Puebla Day (not Mexican Independence Day)!
Vegetarian Tostadas Recipe
Ingredients (for 8 tostadas, 4 servings):
- 8 6-inch corn tortillas
- 4 Tbsp canola oil
- 2 C canned or homemade refried beans (make sure they’re vegetarian!)
- 1.5 cups salsa (I used Wild Harvest Organic Chipotle)
- Shredded cheese to sprinkle
- 2 small tomatoes, chopped
- 2 cups romaine, chopped
- 1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- Cilantro to garnish, chopped
- Hot sauce to finish
- Avocado slices to serve on side
- Parchment paper for baking
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the refried beans over medium-low heat to reheat (or microwave). Same with salsa. Heat half the oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering and nearly smoking, add 3 or 4 tortillas and fry until barely crispy, 20-30 seconds per side. Drain on paper towels, add more to the pan if needed and let it reheat before doing the next batch of tortillas.
Spread the beans over the crisp tortillas; top each with salsa and onions and a little bit of cheese. Bake for 15 minutes on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, yogurt, and cilantro, in that order. Add hot sauce at table and serve with avocado slices.
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