Easy Tostada Night!

tostadasWhile my recipes are traditionally things I dream up, this is a common dish but far too often overlooked for a super fast dinner option to please the whole family or big groups and, thus, it’s worth noting how many ways you can mix it up in a tostada bar that you may not have thought of.  A great alternative to tacos for fast family dinners as well as a great alternative to pizza for a birthday party, for example.

When I was in high school in Dallas, one of the clubs did monthly fund raisers where they would sell tostadas for those of us staying late for after-school activities.  They had the pre-made crispy shells and would spread on the refried beans that they warmed up in an electric skillet, and then top with the shredded cheese, lettuce and tomato.  Since this is a low-calorie, high protein, fast meal with things I usually have on hand, I’ve eaten it through many diet changes…I ate them decades ago when I used to eat meat without even thinking of it as vegetarian.  Once I became vegetarian (about 25 years ago), I would switch up the flavors by sometimes adding avocado, sometimes adding soy beef crumbles, sometimes adding sour cream, and sometimes soy chicken.  When I was vegan for a few years, I just switched up the regular cheese for vegan cheese…and by using gluten-free corn tortillas, this makes it a fast easy meal for when you entertain folks on any diet–great for a hungry sports team celebration for example. Everyone loves the taste but it also fits into all those special diets.

Making tostada shells

On the left: uncooked corn tortilla On the right: cooked tortilla becomes a tostada shell


Easy Tostada Night!
Make a tostada for one or set up a tostada bar for the family or large groups!
Recipe type: Vegetarian Entrees, Vegan Entrees
Cuisine: Mexican
  • You can start with pre-made tostada shells or use corn tortillas of any size (Directions follow, for both) I like using the small 4" corn tortillas if you can find them because you can make 2 or 3 different flavor options per person at your taco fixings bar, but 6" corn tortillas are more common. If you eat gluten-free, be sure to look for the gluten-free corn tortillas. Most of them I find are naturally gluten-free since corn is used in place of flour.
  • To make tostada shells from corn tortillas, you will need about ½ cup canola oil
  • Canned vegetarian refried beans (these are actually vegan and this means no beef lard is present. Typically any refried beans labeled "fat-free" are vegan for this reason.) You will need about ⅛ cup refried beans for each small 4" tostadas, more for regular 6" tortillas (you will use about 1 cup per 8 6" tostadas)
  • You will need about 1 cup of each of these for 8 6" tostadas:
  • cheese of your choice, vegans will want vegan options of course!
  • chopped lettuce
  • diced tomato
  • other options for a tostada bar--set out all or skip the optional altogether and just used the basics!
  • pico de gallo
  • sliced jalapeños
  • avocados
  • diced onions
  • sour cream
  • Salsa (for parties, you can set out both green and red salsas)
  • soy crumbles
  • soy chicken
  • soy sausage
  • **Want a popular party appetizer? Use a small round cookie cutter to make tiny tostada shells!
  1. For pre-made tostada shells: Simply preheat oven to 350 degrees and heat the pre-made tostada shells until hot, 3-5 minutes.
  2. For homemade oven-baked tostada shells made from corn tortillas:
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Pour about ½ cup canola oil in a bowl and line a baking sheet with foil. Brush oil on both sides of tortillas and place on foil. Bake for about 5 minutes on one side, then use tongs to flip the tortillas and bake for about 3 minutes on the other side or until golden and crispy.
  5. For pan-fried tostada shells made from corn tortillas:
  6. Optional pre-frying step: to help the tortillas fry up better, dry them in the oven by laying them out on an oven rack and cooking them at 250°F for 10 minutes or so. Pour enough oil into a frying pan so that you have a quarter inch layer of oil. Heat the oil on medium high heat until sizzling hot, but not smoking. One at a time, fry the tortillas in the oil. Bubbles should form in the tortilla immediately as you put the tortilla in the oil, otherwise the oil is not hot enough. Fry until golden brown on both sides, cooking about 30 seconds to a minute per side. Use metal tongs or a spatula to push the tortilla down in the oil, and to turn and lift the tortilla out of the pan, draining the excess oil as you do so. (The tortilla should be fairly stiff and crisp. If not, the oil is not hot enough.) Place the tortilla on a paper towel-lined plate, to absorb the excess oil. Sprinkle with a little salt. Put the cooked tortillas on a rimmed baking sheet and place in a 250°F oven to keep warm.
  7. Add more oil to the pan as needed, taking care that the oil heats sufficiently before adding a tortilla to the pan.
  8. You can heat the refried beans while preparing the shells--either in a microwave or pot on the stove top or in an electric skillet. For parties, you can even put them in a chafing dish or slow cooker to keep warm for your guests.
  9. Spread a thin layer of beans on each tostada round and top with your topping choices. Just pick up and eat with your hands and enjoy!



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