Oaxacan Black Bean Tostadas with Spring Salad

The marriage of blue corn tortillas, Oaxacan style black beans, Oaxacan cheese, a salad tossed with cotija-pepita dressing produces a light, yet wholly satisfying tostada for that one perfect bite.

Sometimes, the most humble of foods can be some of the most delicious. Take for example, this tostada.

Homemade blue corn tortillas are toasted in the oven until crispy.

A can of black beans is doctored with classic Mexican aromatics of jalapeño, onion, garlic and a pinch of ground cumin, simmered for 30 to 40 minutes to transform into something more than just a boring can of beans that you started with.

Puréed until silky smooth. Then the slightly spicy, earthy beans are spread onto the now crispy tortilla.

Next comes the Oaxacan cheese, the cheese having been uncoiled first then torn into strands before it joins the beans, sitting pretty atop the tostada. Back into the oven it goes, just until the cheese melts and some of the edges of the tortillas take on the slightest, but oh-so-tasty, char.

And while the tortillas are toasting and the cheese melting, a quick salad is tossed together.

Tender yet crisp baby greens take a tumble with cotija cheese, toasted and salted pepitas, radish batons and a good drizzle or two of zesty cotija-pepita dressing.

Finally, the salad gets mounded atop the bean and cheese tostada, topped with more pepitas and cotija cheese, creating an opportunity for that crunchy, earthy, zesty, salty perfect bite.

This week's recipe was inspired by a dining event that I and my good friend, Stephanie, took part in a little over a month ago at Puesto La Jolla. It was called "Mole & Mezcal: A Traditional Oaxacan Dinner Experience." The mezcal was a miss for me, as I now sit firmly in the "I don't like it" camp but the food was a resounding hit.

The Passion Fruit Shrimp Ceviche and the tostada, which they called a mini tlayuda, were the two best dishes of the evening for me, though I enjoyed all the food tremendously.

I couldn't get the tostada out of my head for days afterwards. The only thing to do was replicate the dish from memory. First up was the cotija-pepita dressing. Then I got a hold of blue corn masa harina to make my own nutritious blue corn tortillas with. I was already experienced with the ease of doctoring canned beans for a quick dinner that didn't involve overnight soaking of dried beans. So that was a no-brainer. Once I was happy with all the parts, I simply put it all together to make an easy, healthy dinner. The bonus is that after the components are made, they hold up well in the fridge, enabling you to whip up a quick lunch or dinner of Oaxacan Black Bean Tostadas during the coming week.

Easy. Delicious. Packed with flavor and good nutrition. You need this in your life.

Until next time, friends… ¡Buen Provecho!
xo, ani

Oaxacan Black Bean Tostadas

Serves 4


For the beans:
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, plus its liquid
1 cup water
1½ teaspoons Knorr chicken bouillon
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ white onion, peeled
1 jalapeño pepper, sliced in half, stem and seeds removed
1 fat clove garlic, peeled

For the tostadas:
8 blue corn tortillas, preferably homemade (get the recipe here) or use store-bought
2 teaspoons canola oil
sea salt
¾ cup shredded Oaxacan cheese

For the salad:
5 ounces organic baby spring greens mix
⅓ cup toasted and lightly salted pepitas
⅓ cup grated cotija cheese
3 to 4 radishes, julienned
¼ cup cotija-pepita salad dressing, or to taste, can be homemade (get the recipe here) or store-bought

To garnish:
toasted pepitas
grated cotija cheese


Doctor the beans: Pour the beans along with their liquid into a medium saucepan. Add the water, bouillon, cumin, onion, jalapeño and garlic. Bring to a boil, then lower to a gentle simmer, cooking on medium-low for 35 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly, about 8 minutes then add to a blender and purée until smooth, about 45 seconds to 1½ minutes depending on the power of your blender. Set aside. 

Make the tostadas while the beans are cooking: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit with the racks set on the upper third and lower third of the oven. Place tortillas on baking sheets (preferably with a rack insert to help with even toasting), making sure they don't overlap. Lightly brush both sides of each tortilla with oil. Bake tortillas for 4 minutes; remove and flip the tortillas, baking for another 4 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with sea salt, to taste, and set aside until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Spread 2 to 3 tablespoons of the puréed beans evenly on each tostada. Evenly distribute the cheese between the tostadas. Return pans to oven and bake for 4 minutes or until the cheese has melted and just started to turn golden in spots. Remove pans from ovens. 

When ready to assemble, make the salad: In a large bowl, toss the salad ingredients together until well coated. Use less or more dressing as desired. Divide the salad between the tostadas. Top with additional pepitas and or cheese as desired. 

Note: This recipe makes more puréed beans than needed. Refrigerate leftovers after completely cooled in an airtight container and save for another use. 

What to do with your leftover beans?

Make enfrijoladas! Get the recipe.