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tostadas three ways
We cook this meal quite frequently, changing the toppings based on the season. The constants for this meal are corn tortillas, toasted until crisp in the oven, a layer of homemade refried beans (I switch between black beans, pintos, and anasazis), and salsa. After that, it’s up to what’s in season, what’s fresh at the farmers’ market, what storage vegetables I have in the garage, and how elaborate I want to get. In the middle of summer, we’ll top the tortillas with beans, then a limey cabbage salad, then avocado cubes and some salsa. In the fall and winter, on top of the beans, we pile roasted butternut squash cubes, then guacamole, and pickled red onions or salsa. Sometimes we do roasted potatoes, instead of the squash—we tried purple potatoes last summer and they were really fun. Cheese turns out to be unnecessary with all the other great flavors, but it’s certainly fine to add it—either on top of the beans, or to the tortilla at the end of its toasting time in the oven.
And maybe you feel like a simpler meal? Just make the beans and pick one of the vegetable salads, depending on the season! We very often just have the refried beans and cabbage salad. I make lots of extra beans and freeze them for when I want a quick meal! See the photo for the abbreviated version of this meal—with the cabbage salad, and refrieds made out of pinto beans.
refried beans (recipe follows)
roasted winter squash cubes OR cabbage salad OR garlic-roasted potatoes (recipes follow)
salsa and/or pickled red onions (recipe follows)
guacamole or diced avocado (recipe follows)
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Set the corn tortillas on baking sheets in a single layer and toast them in the oven for 15 minutes, until crisp, fragrant, and just starting to get golden brown. Toast 2 or 3 tortillas per person.
2. Let each person top their tortilla with beans, then squash or cabbage salad or potatoes, then avocado, salsa, and/or pickled onions. Eat with plenty of napkins at the ready!
This recipe will give you plenty of beans for a couple of days’ leftovers (always a good thing, in my book). They freeze really well, too, so make as many as you like and freeze them (well-labeled) in plastic containers for future tostada meals.
3 cups dried beans: black turtle beans, pinto, or anasazi beans
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large onions (1 for quartering, 2 for dicing)
10 garlic cloves, peeled (4 to be left whole, 6 to be minced)
2 bay leaves
4 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted in a skillet and freshly ground
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder, or regular chili powder
sea salt or kosher salt
1. Soak the beans in water for 4 hours or overnight.
2. Quarter 1 of the onions, leaving the root end on so the quarters stay intact. Cover the beans in water by a couple of inches, and add the quartered onion, 4 whole garlic cloves and the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are completely tender. When the beans are tender enough to easily squish between your tongue and the roof of your mouth, turn off the heat. This could take from 30 minutes to an hour or longer, depending on how old the beans are. Just make sure the beans are nice and soft. Turn off the heat and let the beans cool for a bit. If you have time, let them sit, covered, until they are completely cool. Remove the quartered onion, bay leaves, and whole garlic cloves and discard.
3. Chop the remaining 2 onions into small dice, and mince the remaining 6 garlic cloves. Saute the onions with 1 teaspoon salt in a wide skillet over medium-high heat until they start to brown—5 or 10 minutes. Then add the garlic, cumin, oregano, chili powder, and 1 more teaspoon salt, and sauté for 5 minutes more.
4. Add the beans and 1 cup of their cooking liquid. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or so, partially mashing some of the beans with the back of a wooden spoon, a potato masher, or an immersion blender.
5. Season with plenty of salt and pepper to taste. The beans can take a lot of salt, so just keep tasting until they are perfectly seasoned. You may need to add more salt when you reheat them—just taste and see.
roasted winter squash cubes
Smooth-skinned squashes (like butternut and banana squash) are easiest to do this with, because it’s very easy to peel them before they are cooked. When I do this recipe, I usually roast 2 pounds, at least, because the squash cubes make such great leftovers… If you make this meal for dinner you’ll have leftovers for lunch and another dinner, which is always a good thing! You can eat more tostadas, or toss the squash cubes into a salad, or just eat them with leftover beans.
1 pound banana squash, or 1 large butternut squash (at least a pound)
½ teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Peel and seed your squash and dice it into ½” pieces (the pieces don’t have to be square, though).
3. Coat a large baking sheet with non-stick spray or oil. (This makes clean-up a lot easier.)
4. Toss the squash cubes with the olive oil and salt. Spread them out in a single layer on the baking sheet.
5. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until starting to get brown and slightly shriveled. Remove the squash from the oven, keeping the oven on, and drizzle a little honey over the squash. Toss the cubes with the honey and return to the oven. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes more, until the squash is browned.
This salad recipe is based on one in Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers book. It’s fine even the next day as leftovers with the beans—it just gets to be more like cabbage pickles.
6 cups finely sliced green or purple cabbage
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
¼ cup finely diced white onion or scallion
2 pinches dried oregano
2 to 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro (if you have it—but go ahead and make this salad without cilantro if you don’t have any hanging around.)
1/3 cup lime juice
Toss the cabbage with the salt and onion and sugar. Add the rest of the salad ingredients, toss well, and refrigerate until ready to use.
2 pounds Butterball potatoes (or other yellow, waxy potato)
garlic oil (recipe in Step 1.)
sea salt or kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper
1. Make garlic oil: Mash or mince 3 or 4 garlic cloves and cover with ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil. Let steep for 30 minutes if you have time. Strain out the garlic and store the oil in the refrigerator.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Toss them in a bowl with a few spoonfuls of garlic oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss again.
3. Lightly oil a large baking dish or sheet pan, and transfer the potatoes onto it, making sure that a cut side of each potato is touching the pan. (The side touching the pan will brown nicely). Roast the potatoes until tender and browned, 35 to 40 minutes.
pickled red onions
1 pound red onions
1 quart boiling water, more or less
1-2 cups white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt
2 bay leaves
10 peppercorns, lightly crushed
2 pinches dried thyme
a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1. Halve the onions, peel them, and slice them into half-moons about ¼” thick. Separate the half-ring slices from each other and pile them in a bowl.
2. Bring a kettle of water to a boil, and pour the boiling water over the onions. Stir the onions around in the hot water for 30 seconds, just to soften them, then drain them in a colander (you don’t want to let them sit in the boiling water too long or they’ll lose their crunch.)
3. Put the sugar, salt, bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme, and red pepper flakes in a large jar, and add about a ¼ cup of hot or warm water. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt.
4. Jam the onions into the jar. Pour in white wine vinegar to cover the onions. If you don’t have enough vinegar to cover, you can add some water. I don’t usually do this, though, because I reuse the vinegar once or twice, so I like the brine solution quite strong. Put the lid on the jar, shake to combine, and keep it refrigerated. The pink color will begin to infuse in about an hour. Taste them after they’ve pickled for a day, and add more salt and sugar to taste, if they don’t have enough zip for you.
Yes, this website is all about seasonal, local food, but it would be awfully hard to live without avocados. I buy bags of avocados all year ‘round at Costco. Here’s how to ripen and store the avocados from Costco so they don’t get overripe and go to waste. Buy a bag of them when they are rock-hard, and set them on your counter. Every day (you must be vigilant), squeeze them very gently to see how soft they are getting. When they have just begun to get soft (don’t wait until they are squishy), put them in the refrigerator RIGHT AWAY—this will more or less arrest their further ripening, and you will have a treasure trove of perfectly ripe avocados for a week or more. If you want to make this Alaskan guacamole, make it with our local onions!
¼ to ½ cup minced onion (to your taste)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 jalepeno peppers, seeded with a spoon and minced
¼ cup minced fresh cilantro (optional)
¼ to ½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
3 ripe avocados
2-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1. After mincing the onion, scoop it into a glass or bowl and cover with cold water and let it soak while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. (This takes away some of the bite of the raw onion.)
2. Put the garlic, jalepeno, cilantro, salt, and cumin in a medium bowl.
3. Halve, pit, and peel the avocados.
4. Drain the onion well in a sieve and add to the bowl, stir with a fork. Put one avocado into the bowl and mash the flesh with the onion mixture.
5. Cube the remaining 2 avocados into ½” pieces and put the pieces into the bowl. Sprinkle the lime juice over the diced avocado and mix entire contents of bowl lightly with a fork until combined but still chunky. Adjust seasoning with salt and lime juice. Try not to eat the entire bowl while you’re testing it.
6. You can cover it with plastic wrap, pressed directly onto surface of guacamole, and refrigerate it for a few hours before serving, if you like.