Last weekend I splurged a little and bought 4 new cookbooks. Of those 4, three were from the Williams-Sonoma Savoring series. I promptly sat down and flipped through each. Halfway through the Appetizers book I spotted a vegetarian tostada recipe and decided it was going to be dinner one night this week. Never being one to feel constrained by someone else's recipe instructions, what I made was a bit different from what was written in the book, but it did turn out beautifully and, despite the amount of prep-work involved in dicing and cooking 8 assorted vegetables separately, I reckon I'd make it again in a heartbeat. The sauce isn't spicy at all, but has a great Latino chili flavour. If you can't find dried Latino chillies where you are, you can order them online for next to nothing. Although, if you can get them in a place like Edmonton, you can probably get them anywhere.
I usually buy my Latino cooking supplies at Edmonton Latino on 118 Avenue at about 101 Street, just behind NAIT. They sell really excellent Mexican chocolate disks for making Mexican hot chocolate there, as well as dried Ancho chilies, annatto paste, several kinds of masa harina and lots of good brands of refried beans. You can also get masa flour at Superstore and tostadas can be found at Save-On. For this recipe you can use tostadas, which are crisp corn tortillas about 5" in diameter, or you could substitute small (5") soft flour tortillas, which don't make quite as much mess. Feel free to also substitute any of the vegetables for what you have on hand or enjoy and lastly, if you can't find decent refried beans, you can make your own pretty easily. There are about a zillion recipes available online. I reckon these would make excellent party food if you made tart cases out of cut tortillas or some such....
- 6 large dried Mexican chilies (Ancho, Guajillo, or New Mexico or a combination - I used half Guajillo and half Ancho)
- 6 large cloves garlic (roasted if you can be bothered), crushed
- 5 Tablespoons white vinegar
- largish pinch ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 teaspoons ground oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound each, diced:
- new potatoes
- fresh green beans (trimmed)
- carrots (peeled)
- baby zucchini
- chayote squash
- sweet potato
- 1/2 cup small cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
- 12 good quality 5" corn tostadas (or tortillas)
- 1 tin refried beans
- 1/2 lb queso fresco ( you can substitute feta or goats cheese)
Trim stems off the chilies, cut in half and roll them in your fingers to dislodge most of the seeds. Place them in a shallow bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to soak 20 minutes. Drain and reserve water.
Place soaked chilies and the remaining sauce ingredients in a food processor, mini chopper or blender. Whiz to form a sauce, adding as much additional chili-soaking water as needed. Strain through a mesh sieve and set aside.
Make sure all your veggies are diced roughly the same size. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and set a large metal bowl full of cold water to the side. Cook diced potatoes for 5 minutes, use a slotted spoon or small sieve to transfer them to the cold water to stop their cooking. Repeat with green beans & carrots (4 minutes cooking time) and zucchini, sweet potato, chayote (3 minutes cooking time). When all veggies have been cooked and cooled, drain and dry on a kitchen towel. Toss with tomatoes, onions and sauce, set aside.
Spread each tostada/tortilla with a tablespoon or two of beans, top with a mound of vegetables and sprinkle over some of the cheese. Serve cold.