Tostada Tuesday

In Beans, Flexitarian, Meat and Pultry, Mexican, Salad, Vegetables on July 3, 2012 at 11:39 am

Growing up, we always had a Taco night.  It wasn’t always on a Tuesday, but it was one of those crowd pleasers my mom could whip up on a busy week night.  It’s interesting to reflect back on our version and toppings, especially compared with other people I know.  We always had vegetarian chili from a can.  My mom would portion the beans out into the shells, and bake them.  She would also shred up a block of cheese, and chop up lettuce and tomato.  There was also salsa.  I never knew any differently, until we went to my aunt’s for a weekend and she heated the shells and chili separately (which was so awesome because the shells didn’t get soggy).  When I’d ask my mom if she could do the same, she didn’t; she always made things the same way, not with even the slightest change.  As I got older, I craved new and exciting combinations.  One recent obsession is the tostada at Calexico Cart in Red Hook.  It’s a flat crispy corn tortilla with pinto beans, avocado, caramelized onions, fresh goat cheese, romaine lettuce, cilantro, crema, and cotija cheese.  You can also opt to add chicken, steak, pork or tofu on top of it.  The standard  no-topping version is amazing all on its own, so I tend to order that quite often.  It’s really refreshing because it’s a cold dish, so perfect for summer.  This can get quite expensive, though, so I decided last Tuesday to make my own!  There are some slight modifications, but it came out pretty spot on to the original.

Kinda Like Calexico Cart Tostadas

Makes 4 tostadas

1 vidalia onion, sliced in half and then into thin crescents
1 tbsp EVOO
Salt to taste
1 cup cooked smashed pinto beans (or refried beans), chilled or at room temperature
4 oz soft goat cheese
2 cups shredded lettuce
1/4 cup green pumpkin seed mole sauce (recipe to follow)
1 avocado, cut into strips
6 oz Cilantro Lime Chicken (optional, recipe to follow)
4 thin soft corn tortillas
Oil for frying
Limes for garnish

I started caramelizing the onions first, since they take the most time.  After slicing the onion in half, and then into crescents, I added them to a skillet over high heat with 1 tbsp oil to start.

Once you start to hear it sizzle, then it’s time to lower the heat to medium low, and let it brown up for about 30 minutes.  You can stir it around every 5 minutes or so.  Add some salt at the end.

I also prepped the mole sauce and marinated the chicken during that time.  I decided to use the green pumpkin seed mole sauce that I had used for my enchiladas, primarily because it allowed me to use up the rest of my cilantro from the farmer’s market.  It is also super delicious, and great to have around for omelets and lunches.

Green Pumpkin Seed Mole Sauce Adapted from Veganomicon

Makes about 2 cups

3/4 cup pepitos (green pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup tightly packed chopped cilantro (about half a bunch)
3/4 cup tomatillos or salsa verde
3 scallions
1 clove garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Add the pepitos to a food processor and pulse until the seeds form crumbly sand.  Then add in all the other ingredients.

Blend in the food processor until all combined and creamy (about a minute).

Pretty simple, huh?  If you don’t have a food processor, use a blender.  If you don’t have that, either, you are SOL.

Take about 1/4 cup worth and combine it with shredded lettuce for these tostadas.

Now onto the chicken.  Also rather easy, and you can swap tofu for chicken to make this vegetarian.

Cilantro Lime Chicken

6 oz boneless skinless chicken breast
1 clove garlic, minced
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup tightly packed chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp EVOO
Salt and Pepper

Add everything to a bag or bowl covered in plastic wrap.  Let it all hang out in the fridge for 30 minutes.  Take it out, let it sit a few minutes.

You can either bake it at 350º for 30 minutes, or do how I did and just slice it up to saute on the stove.  That way only takes about 5-7 minutes.

To assemble the tostadas, first heat up the soft tortillas over very high heat in some oil for about 10-15 seconds each side.  Let them rest on a paper towel to absorb some of the extra oil.  For each tostada, add 1/4 cup smashed pinto beans.

Then you add 1-2 tbsp caramelized onion and an ounce of crumbled soft goat cheese.

Top them off with about 1/2 cup shredded lettuce, 1/4 of an avocado sliced up, and any optional protein.

Super yummy combo!  Looking for a slimmer version?  Just omit the tortilla and make a salad!

You can also omit the cheese to make this vegan.  However, the goat cheese adds a really nice tanginess to this dish, so I’d suggest keeping it in if you’re not too much of a hippy.

I was really pleased with how these tostadas came out.  My next missions: replicating Calexico’s Crack Sauce.  It is this creamy chipotle sauce that they serve with their quesadillas, and it is probably more addictive than crack itself.  At least this stuff is legal, though.


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