Black Bean Tostadas

April 11, 2010

I’m going to be brief and to the point.  It’s Monday.  Some of you are going meatless.  I tried to get this posted in enough time for you to run to the grocery store and gather up the ingredients because it is SO good.  But if not, make it next Monday.

Why?  How about a crispy corn tortillas topped with a cumin-y black bean mixture, topped with a vinegar-y cabbage slaw, topped with an avocado-y salsa, topped with pickled onions?  If you add an extra sprinkle of queso fresco cheese, it takes this dinner from a “Top 10 of All Time” to a “Top 5 of All Time” according to my list-loving husband.  I actually opted to take all those delicious toppings and put them over this rice but Randy had no problem eating 3 tostadas on his own and rejoiced to know that there were leftovers.

A couple of notes.  If you are not familiar with epazote, it is an herb often found in Mexican cooking.  I have never tasted it fresh – dried it reminds me of a cross between oregano and dill.  I think it is delicious but it can be hard to find.  I’ve ordered it from Penzey’s but you can also just substitute dried oregano.  The cabbage slaw can be made hours ahead of time and stored, covered, in the refrigerator.  The beans can be made hours ahead too – you just may need to add a little water to loosen them up when you reheat them.  I would wait to make the salsa until right before serving because otherwise it gets a little watery.  Finally, yes, those are the same onions found on the Fideos.  Why not make a big batch and have a double meatless Mexican week?

One Year Ago:  Butterscotch Spiral Coffee Cake

Black Bean Tostadas with Slivered Cabbage, Avocado, and Pickled Onions

Adapted from Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen
Serves 4

Don’t let the length of this recipe or all the different parts scare you off.  Each part is fast and easy.  If you prefer, you can heat the tortillas on the stovetop in a skillet or griddle.  I prefer to use the oven method because you can use less oil (you can really use none) and you can heat more of them at once.

Pickled Onions (recipe follows)

The Beans
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1½ tsp. dried epazote
1 garlic clove, minced
1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
Sea salt

The Cabbage Slaw
6 cups finely sliced green cabbage
Sea salt
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2 pinches of dried oregano
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
1/3 cup white wine vinegar or lime juice (DT: I used a combination)
1/3 cup boiling water

The Tortillas and Garnishes
8 corn tortillas
Vegetable oil
2 small avocados, peeled and sliced
Crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese
½ cup sour cream, thinned with a little milk
Salsa Cruda (recipe follows)

1.  Make the pickled onions and let them stand while you get everything else ready.  (Remember, they can be made up to 5 days in advance.)

2.  Heat the oil in a skillet and add the chopped onion, cumin, and epazote.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the onion starts to brown, 3 to 4 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minutes more.

3.  Add the beans and a bit of water and cook, mashing the beans slightly until they are somewhat smooth but still have plenty of texture and are not soupy.  Season with salt and keep warm, or reheat as necessary.

4.  Toss the cabbage with a few pinches of salt and the scallions.  Add the rest of the salad ingredients, toss well, and refrigerate until ready to use.

5.  Lightly brush the tortillas with oil and bake in a 400°F oven until crisp and starting to brown, 6 to 8 minutes.

6.  Put 2 tortillas on each plate and spread the warm beans over each.  Mound the cabbage on top, add the avocado, cheese, a drizzle of sour cream, and the pickled onions.  Pass salsa at the table.

Pickled Onions

1 small red onion, thinly sliced into rounds
Sea salt
1 tsp. sugar
Apple cider vinegar or rice wine vinegar

Toss the onion rounds with a pinch of salt and the sugar.  Put them in a bow with vinegar to cover; they’ll turn bright pink in about 15 minutes.  They will keep for about 5 days in the refrigerator.

Salsa Cruda with Avocado
Makes about 1 cup

5 plum tomatoes or 3 ripe medium tomatoes
¼ cup finely diced red or white onion
1 jalapeño chile, finely diced and seeded if you want less heat
12 cilantro sprigs, chopped
1 avocado, finely diced
Finely chopped chipotle chile to taste (optional)
Juice of 1 lime or splash of beer
Sea salt

Halve the tomatoes lengthwise, squeeze out the seeds, then chop the flesh into small pieces.  Put the tomato in a bowl with the onion, chile, cilantro, and avocado.  Add lime juice or a splash of beer and season with salt to taste.


  1. Pickled onions are just good. I approve. I really, really approve.

    These tostadas look delicious! Queso fresco is a definite necessity.

    Comment by Joanne — April 11, 2010 @ 11:06 pm

  2. I just bought Deborah Madison’s cookbook, and tomorrow for dinner I plan on chickpeas w/ pasta! (for meatless Mondays of course!).

    Comment by stacey snacks — April 11, 2010 @ 11:12 pm

  3. We make a very similar tostada. It is one of our go to meals. I recently posted our recipe on the site I am contributing recipes to, Make and Takes. I will have to try the onions next time. Love that touch!

    Comment by Maria — April 11, 2010 @ 11:28 pm

  4. I had an amazing mushroom toasta at Oyamel restaurant in DC and ever since then ive been craving a good tostada. Perfect timing!

    Comment by Veggie Belly — April 11, 2010 @ 11:55 pm

  5. Definitely making these soon! Looks so good and has lots of my favorite ingredients.

    Comment by Katie @ goodLife {eats} — April 12, 2010 @ 12:47 am

  6. I’m drooling over this, I need to have dinner at your house! I’ve made a similar black bean recipe, but all the extra toppings you added put it over the top.

    Comment by Jacqui — April 12, 2010 @ 1:01 am

  7. Oh my goodness…Yum!! These look so beautiful and colourful.

    Comment by Jennifer — April 12, 2010 @ 2:36 am

  8. those tostadas look great!

    Comment by Cherine — April 12, 2010 @ 6:28 am

  9. I love corn tortillas! Don’t mind going meatless for this colorful filling.

    Comment by veron — April 12, 2010 @ 1:47 pm

  10. Meatless for people like me! Love it!
    I have a tall box of tostadas sitting on my refrigerator, time to break it open.

    Comment by anudivya — April 12, 2010 @ 10:34 pm

  11. I’m new to this blog and have to say already a fan. I haven’t tried your recipes yet as I’ve sometimes been known to be too fond of reading recipes and not fond enough of the actual making of them. HOWEVER, I am definitely making an exception for this recipe as it look amazing. So does your gazpacho recipe, by the way.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Comment by lindsay — April 12, 2010 @ 11:37 pm

  12. The big Mexican grocery store next to the Goodwill on the edge of Burien/White Center often has fresh epazote (the store is on Ambaum). It’s worth the trek to see the tortilla machine and buy tortillas that are still warm!

    Comment by Willi — April 12, 2010 @ 11:38 pm

  13. well hello there, tomorrow night’s dinner. this looks amazing Dana! (ps, congratulations on making Babble’s Top 50 – so well deserved, friend!)

    Comment by tara — April 13, 2010 @ 12:15 am

  14. I do believe I could enjoy eating this every day. I love mix of textures and flavors and the freshness of the slaw and salsa. And, I usually have these ingredients on hand. Delicious!

    Comment by lisaiscooking — April 13, 2010 @ 1:06 am

  15. This sounds so so delicious, and the pickled onions look gorgeous!

    Comment by tiina — April 13, 2010 @ 9:20 am

  16. Wow, a lot of different flavors and textures here, nice!

    Comment by Valen — April 13, 2010 @ 5:08 pm

  17. I made your mex rice the other night and people thought I was a genius. I’ve been looking for exactly that kind of rice dish to compliment … well … all the mex food I make. And now this? I’m with Tara — hello, tonight’s dinner.

    p.s. I didn’t take genius credit, I passed it on to you. : )

    Comment by dina — April 13, 2010 @ 7:35 pm

  18. Oh my seriously Dana this looks exactly like this dish I love at my favourite Mexican restaurant (minus the smoked tofu). The pickled onions on top are such an amazing addition. I love salsa and love avocado but never chop them up together like that. I can’t wait to make this!!

    Comment by Ashley — April 16, 2010 @ 2:18 pm

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  20. loved every messy bite of it.. the onions are just killer.. and it’s really not that much work as long as you have the ingredients on hand.

    Comment by catherine — April 27, 2010 @ 10:03 pm

  21. I made this recipe and I’m tellin’ ya…it is a fiesta for your mouth!!! Like all of the Dana Treat recipes I’ve made, it’s delish. Thanks for providing such great blog-ertainment, beautiful pics and great food for your fellow veg lovers! Keep ’em coming!

    Comment by Melinda — June 9, 2010 @ 9:41 am

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