Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Happy Texas Independence Day.  My inspiration for dinner tonight was from epicurious.  You can click the link if you want to be slightly scared, but really, all they manage to do is make a ridiculously simple dish seem difficult.  Tostados are anything but difficult.

I have a confession to make.  I didn't grow up on Tex-Mex.  My mom's from Alabama and even though I lived in Texas from birth until I was 25 or 26, I didn't become a Tex-Mex fan until high school... and then I became an addict.  Ethnic cuisine was not something that was really done in our house and sadly Tex-Mex fell into that category.

I was probably in high school when I had my first tostado.  I was over at my boyfriend's house when his mom started making them.  She wasn't much of a cook (shake-n-bake and box macaroni were specialties), so I watched closely figuring I might learn something that was easy to make.  First, she browned ground beef and mixed it with a little tomato paste and cumin.  Then, she heated a can of refried beans.  Everyone was given a tostado.  Spread a layer of beans on the tostado, top with the ground beef, and add some salsa, lettuce, and grated cheese.  Voila, dinner is ready.

Making tostados in Montreal is slightly more effort.  If only because it's harder to track down tostados!  You can buy them from the Latin American grocery store on St. Laurent just below Mont Royal.  Essentially, they're corn tortillas fried to be nice and crispy.  They taste like regular tortilla chips (why do Canadians occasionally call them nachos when they don't have cheese on them?), but they're completely round and flat (just like a soft tortilla).  Of course, you could make them yourself by frying a (homemade) corn tortilla, but it's a weeknight and I'm lazy and doubting my abilities to fry things without making a complete mess and burning myself in the process.

A general recipe for tostados is included below.  I used black bean paste (instructions farther below) with a tomatillo sauce (essentially the one I used when I made enchiladas, but I roasted the tomatillos and garlic in the oven first for grins), avocado slices, and feta cheese.


1 can refried beans (pinto or black) or bean paste
salsa (I'm partial to tomatillo sauce with a little less water added, but you can use some bottled salsa or red salsa.  Ninfa's green sauce would probably work amazingly well for this too.)
avocado, sliced
tostados (a good rule of thumb is two per person unless you really like piling food high and making a mess!)
shredded lettuce
grated or crumbled cheese (I used feta this time around, but cheddar is much more traditional)

1. Heat beans.
2. Spread a thin layer of beans over the tostado.
3. Pour salsa to taste over beans.
4. Top with avocados, lettuce, and cheese.
5. Try not to make too much of a mess as you eat with your hands.

Bean Paste Instructions
1. Cook black beans.  (I used about 1 cup of dry beans.  If using dry, be sure to soak overnight and allow extra time for simmering.)
2. Drain beans reserving some of the cooking water (I ended up using about 1/2 cup of the reserved water).
3. Add 1/2 tsp cumin and 1/2 tsp epazote to the cooked beans (the epazote is less important if you used canned beans).
4. Puree beans with an immersion blender.  If the mixture is too thick, add water.

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