During the time my husband’s family lived with us, I had the opportunity to share foods that were new to them. The first time I laid out a tostada bar, one of my sister-in-laws picked up a plate, looked over the bowls of stuff and then looked at me. “What do I do?” she asked.

And that’s when I realized not everyone has met a tostada. Allow me to introduce you, in case you are in this position! It’s like a taco salad, only different.



    • 3 cups mashed or refried beans
    • 6-8 corn tortillas
    • oil for frying
    • any number of toppings including (but not limited to) grated cheese, finely chopped onions, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sliced avocado, olives, jalapenos, sour cream, salsa, and guacamole

1) Pour about 1/4″ of oil into a skillet and heat over medium heat. Water, when flicked off the finger into the skillet, should bubble immediately.
2) Place a tortilla in the oil, using tongs to push down air bubbles. When the tortilla starts to brown, carefully turn it over with tongs and continue frying until golden brown in color and stiff. Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel and repeat the process with the remaining tortillas.
3) While tostada shells are cooking, heat the beans.
4) Place beans on tostada shells, then top with desired toppings.

Eat with your hands for a yummy but messy experience, or eat with a fork to keep things cleaner.

My Recipe for Beans
(usually I use pinto beans, but these ratios will work with any dried bean)

1 cup of dry beans = 2 cups of cooked beans

For plain beans I add 1/2 teaspoon salt per 1 cup of DRY beans.
For seasoned beans I also add the following per 1 cup of DRY beans:

  • 1 heaping teaspoon dried chili powder
  • 1 level teaspoon dried cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

And a secret*:

  • dash of balsamic vinegar (or any other vinegar)

Soak beans overnight in water to de-gas them. Alternatively, cover beans with water in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil, boil for 3 minutes, then remove from heat, cover, and let sit for an hour before proceeding with cooking. I do it both ways depending on how on top of things I am. I do notice a texture difference between the methods, but I’m not sure I can articulate it.

1) Place soaked beans in a stock pot and bring to a gentle boil. Add any seasonings (except for salt). Allow to cook 3-4 hours or until the beans have softened.
2) Salt to taste.
3) Drain beans, reserving liquid, and place them in a large bowl (or return them to pot).
4) Add a dash of vinegar and start mashing with a potato masher (or use a hand mixer on the lowest setting), adding reserved bean liquid as needed to reach desired consistency.

Leftovers can be frozen.

*I really don’t know how big a “secret” vinegar in beans is, but there are a couple advantages to adding a little. One, it helps break downs the beans a little making for easier digestion and less of the, shall we say, “airy” effects. Two, cooking beans often leaves a layer of film on the pot, and if you mash up the beans in the pot, throwing in the bit of vinegar will de-glaze the pot and make for easier cleaning.


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