First order of business: I need to share these pictures of Levi in the snow. Last month we went to Utah for a weekend to celebrate Dustin’s Great-Aunt’s 90th birthday. It was a quick trip, but we still had time to visit several micro-breweries, (the highlights were the Elephino Double IPA from Red Rock Brewing in Salt Lake City, and the Winterfest from Wasatch Brewery in Park City), as well as stick Levi in his snowsuit and plop him down in the snow to see his reaction. It was a mixture of confusion and delight. Then he tasted it 🙂
You know, traveling to other places, whether it’s a few states over or all the way to Japan, really makes us appreciate the abundance of Mexican food that we have here in California. Especially Japan. I think that’s why we used to make quesadillas every day for lunch (with our extremely expensive imported cheese and tortillas), in an attempt to fill that Mexican food void. Now that we’re back at home, any Mexican-inspired dinner feels like comfort food to us. This meal was both comforting and light (aka it didn’t give us that “OMG I just ate 3 chili rellenos and a side of rice & beans; I’m going to die” feeling). Our version of a tostada is a crispy corn tortilla, a thin layer of beans, a thin layer of guacamole, some shredded cheese (next time we’ll use queso fresco, but we didn’t have that on hand this time), and a lightly dressed salad of mixed greens, cilantro, and carrot.
Black Bean Tostadas
(Makes 4 tostadas)
1 TBS. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (divided)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
a couple splashes of medium-bodied beer (no Coors here, people)
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 lime, zested + the juice (divided)
a spoonful of your favorite spicy salsa (here is ours)
2 small handfuls of grated cheese (we used colby jack)
2 handfuls of mixed greens
1 handful of grated carrot
1 handful fresh cilantro
your favorite vinaigrette (we just used olive oil, red wine vinegar, a little agave nectar for sweetness, and salt & pepper)
4 corn tortillas
canola oil for frying
- Begin by making preparing your “refried” black beans. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add 1/2 the garlic and cook over the low heat so that it can really infuse the oil with flavor, rather than browning too quickly, about 4 minutes. When it starts turning golden, add the black beans and stir to combine. Turn up heat to medium and add a few splashes of whatever (good) beer you’re enjoying while you cook (come on, I’m not the only one who does that), and season with salt, pepper, and cumin to taste. Allow beans to cook for 5-10 minutes. Add the lime zest and stir to combine. Start to mash the beans with a wooden spoon (a “rustic mash” – some of the beans will remain whole-ish, but that’s ok) and continue stirring. Add a little more beer if the skillet becomes dry. When the beans are mashed the way you like them and are seasoned to your liking, turn off the heat and stir in the juice of 1/2 the lime (reserve the other 1/2 for your guacamole). Set aside.
- Prepare your guacamole. In a small bowl, mash the avocado together with the remaining minced garlic and a spoonful of salsa. Season with salt & pepper. Nice and simple. Set aside.
- Now, prepare the salad: Combine the mixed greens, grated carrot, and cilantro. Lightly dress with olive oil, red wine vinegar, a little agave nectar (or honey), salt & pepper. Set aside.
- Heat enough canola oil in a small frying pan so that it reaches a depth of a 1/4 inch. When hot, fry the corn tortillas one at a time, using 2 forks to hold then below the surface of the oil. After a couple minutes, carefully flip the tortilla and continue frying for 1-2 more minutes or until crispy. Let drain on paper towels.
- Assemble your tostadas: Place a crispy tortilla on your plate, spread a thin layer of black beans, followed by guacamole, a little handful of shredded cheese, and a handful of the salad. Sprinkle with a little more salsa on top of the whole thing if you want a little more heat.
And here was Levi’s version. He had some of the black beans, some guacamole (before I put the salsa in) some corn tortillas (not fried, just heated on the burner), and some carrots that I simmered in a little water with cumin and black pepper until soft. Bon Appetit, little boy!
Some sliced oranges were the perfect accompaniment for our tostadas.