Stephanie Gerson / Daily Nexus

Tostadas are the perfect weeknight dinner or appetizer, especially during the summer. The many textures of the dish — the crunchy tortilla, the creamy bean base and the slightly crisp pickled vegetables — layer together to make a refreshing bite. 

While I’ve had many tostadas in my lifetime, I have loved making this recipe from the comfort of my kitchen. The recipe is from Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook “Vegan, at Times: 120+ Recipes for Every Day or Every So Often.” Seinfeld’s approach to veganism really resonated with me as I am also a person who predominantly eats plants, but am not strictly vegan either. The cookbook has 120+ recipes that are rather simple yet elevated. Additionally, if you are cooking for meat-eaters, it is incredibly easy to add animal protein to any of these dishes; I ended up creating an adaptation of this recipe for the non-vegans in my life.

Black Bean Tostadas with Pickled Cabbage 

Ingredients (serves 4)

Pickled onion and cabbage

  • 1/2 head of green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons of any sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Bean Mixture

  • 1 15.5 ounce can of black beans
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder 

Tostadas

  • 4 5- to 6-inch corn tortillas
  • Olive oil or cooking spray of choice

To garnish

  • Avocado, sliced
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped 
  • Pico de gallo or salsa

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt and let boil. 
  3. While waiting for the sugar to dissolve, slice the cabbage and red onion into long, thin strips. 
  4. Pour the vinegar mixture over the sliced cabbage and onions, and let cool for 10 minutes before refrigerating the vegetable mixture for at least 20 minutes.
  5. Add olive oil to a separate pan over high heat.
  6. Add the white onion and salt to the pan and saute for five minutes.
  7. Add the cumin, chipotle powder, beans and water to the pan, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. Use a blender or a fork to mash the beans. If the mixture is too watery, add a teaspoon of cornstarch to thicken the mixture or refrigerate the mixture before serving.
  9. Lay the tortillas on a sheet pan and spray or brush it with cooking oil. Bake for 15 minutes. 
  10. To assemble the tostadas, spread a generous layer of the bean mixture on a tortilla and top with pickled cabbage and onion, avocado and cilantro. I also recommend adding your favorite hot sauce, salsa or pico de gallo.  

This recipe is sure to be a family favorite, but some people just aren’t a fan of beans. For a beanless option, lay down a base of smashed avocado and add your protein of choice. Sauteed shrimp with a simple seasoning pairs nicely with the other components of the dish.

I’m a strong proponent of curating your own cookbook collection. As mentioned in a review of Samah Dada’s “Dada Eats Love to Cook It,” cookbooks are great tools for home chefs, even if the book’s recipes aren’t overly ambitious. When you break it down, Seinfeld’s tostada recipe is made up of just three components but really packs in the flavor. “Vegan, at Times: 120+ Recipes for Every Day or Every So Often” doesn’t overcomplicate vegan cooking, making it a staple cookbook in my collection. 

 

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Stephanie Gerson
Stephanie Gerson is a second-year student studying Art History at UCSB. She is from Palo Alto, California and she is passionate about sustainability, fashion, photography and vegan cooking.