It gets tiresome cooking for picky eaters, but this recipe for tostadas is sure to please everyone’s palate. Even better is that it takes just 15 minutes to prepare and 35 minutes to cook. Then, each tostada can be prepared however each diner chooses. While a tostada typically is a deep-fried tortilla topped with a variety of yummy ingredients, recipe developer Maren Epstein of Eating Works made a healthier version. Epstein’s tortillas are baked, not fried, and she even has us fixing our own refried beans.
Tostadas and tacos are similar, but they’re not quite the same thing. A tostada is flat and made from a tortilla shell, typically corn. Tacos are usually folded, and the tortillas can be made from either corn or flour. One is layered and the other is stuffed. It’s easy to load a tostada with healthy ingredients, both hot and cold. This is a fun meal that offers plenty of flexibility for a full tummy.
Making refried beans for your tostadas
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a medium-sized skillet for these tostadas. Epstein said she prefers to use a cold-pressed olive oil, but any type of olive oil can be used. Add in one chopped onion and cook until translucent, which should take approximately ten minutes. Add in three mashed garlic cloves and one teaspoon of cumin, then sauté for another four minutes. Add in two 15-ounce cans of black beans and bring to a simmer.
Continue to simmer the mixture until two-thirds of the cooking liquid evaporates, approximately 25 minutes.
Finish up the homemade refried beans for your tostadas
Next, transfer the beans to a food processor and pulse until creamy. Stir in the juice from one lemon and one-fourth of a cup of cilantro. Who knew it could be so easy to make homemade refried beans for your tostadas?
According to Epstein, "You can use canned refried beans or make your own. It’s obviously much healthier to make your own at home, and you can control the amount of sodium used, keep out the preservatives, and use higher-quality ingredients. I wanted vegan refried beans, so I made my own because traditional refried beans are cooked in lard. Use what works best for you."
Cook the ground beef for your tostadas
Heat the other half of your olive oil in a medium skillet. Once hot, add half a pound of ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Sauté and break up the beef with a wooden spoon until it’s browned thoroughly. Remove the browned ground beef from the heat and scoop it into a bowl so you can use it later.
While ground beef is Epstein’s preferred meat source for a tostado, shredded chicken or pork would work, too, as could ground turkey. It’s up to you what you use for your protein source. Feel free to get creative here and adjust the ingredients to your taste.
Toast the tortillas for your tostadas
Heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and then place corn tortillas on two greased baking sheets (four spread out on each) or batch cook them on one sheet, four at a time. Toast in the oven on the middle rack for six minutes, then flip and cook for another four minutes. They’re done when they start to harden and raise around the edges.
While there are store-bought tostadas in many grocery stores, these are easy to make and healthy too. Give it a shot!
Assemble the tostadas
Now, you’re ready to build your tostadas. Spread approximately four tablespoons of the refried beans on each tostada. Layer the meat and then add shredded iceberg lettuce with a few slices of avocado on top. Add salsa and any other yummy toppings such as an onion, sour cream, queso fresco, grated cotija cheese, guacamole, or sofrito.
"My favorite topping is vegan sour cream made from cashews and creamy avocado with a hit of lime and a dash of salt," Epstein said. "Sofrito is essentially taco meat made from tofu. It’s really popular at Chipotle. It’s perfect for vegans and vegetarians alike. Queso fresco and cotija cheese are common cheeses used in Mexican cooking. They are pretty easy to find at Whole Foods and most other markets these days. But you can also substitute out cheddar cheese."
There are so many options here, so feel free to add on whatever you want. This is such a versatile recipe that you can go all-out with your toppings, and it will still taste amazing.
These tostadas make a delicious dinner
This recipe is not only quick and easy to make, but it’s fantastic to eat (albeit a bit messy). While you clutch a burrito or taco in both hands and pray the filling doesn’t fall out while you eat it, a tostada is picked up and eaten much like a slice of pizza. The cheese helps keep a slice of pizza mostly intact, but the tostada? Not so much. But Epstein’s family has mastered eating it, and they love this recipe.
"We eat tostadas about every other week at home. I really should make it more often. It’s the perfect quick and easy meal. Everyone loves it. It’s perfect for picky eaters. The best part about tostadas is that everyone can make their own at the table and pick and choose what they want to put on. Everyone’s tostada will look different, but everyone will be pleased," she said.
It’s easy to load a tostada with healthy ingredients, both hot and cold. This is a fun meal that offers plenty of flexibility for a full tummy. Try it out!
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, mashed
- 2 (15-ounce) cans of black beans
- 1 lemon, juiced
- ¼ cup cilantro, divided
- ½ pound ground beef
- 1 cup iceberg lettuce, shredded
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 8 corn tortillas
- ½ cup of salsa
- ¼ cup red onion, diced
- sour cream
- queso fresco
- grated cotija cheese
- Make the refried beans by heating half of the olive oil in a medium sized skillet. Add onions and cook until translucent (10 minutes). Add the garlic and cumin and saute for another 4 minutes. Add black beans and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer until two-thirds of the cooking liquid evaporates (25 minutes). Transfer beans to a food processor and pulse until creamy. Stir in lemon juice and cilantro.
- Cook the ground beef by heating the other half of the olive oil in a medium skillet. Once hot, add the ground beef. Season with salt and pepper. Saute and break up the beef with a wooden spoon until it is browned throughout. Remove from the heat and place in a bowl.
- Toast the tortillas. Start by heating oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place tortillas on two baking sheets (four on each) Or batch cook them four at a time on one sheet. Toast in the oven in the middle rack for 6 minutes, then flip and cook for another 4 minutes. (They’re done when they start to harden and raise around the edges).
- Assemble the tostadas by spreading about 4 tablespoons of beans on a tostada. Next, add the ground beef, iceberg lettuce, and avocado on top. Add the salsa and any of the additional toppings you want, like sour cream or guacamole.