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Gretchen's table: Roasted vegetable tostadas

Gretchen's table: Roasted vegetable tostadas

From the 5 spring-friendly recipes to check out this week series
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These vegetarian tostadas are stacked with two layers of smashed pinto beans, lettuce, pico and roasted sweet potatoes and bell peppers.

These vegetarian tostadas are stacked with two layers of smashed pinto beans, lettuce, pico and roasted sweet potatoes and bell peppers. Crumbled queso fresco and lime crema add the crowning touch. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

When it comes to getting a dinner everyone can agree on on the table, and quickly, you simply can't go wrong with tacos. They're crunchy, kid-friendly and can hold just about anything you can think of, which means you probably have all the goods in your fridge and pantry.

But lately, I've been getting bored with the same old, same old. So this week, I decided to shake things up and make tostadas instead.

"Tostada" is Spanish for "toasted," and that's exactly what they are — corn tortillas that are toasted in the oven or fried in oil until they're brown and crispy and then used as a base for any flavor combination you can think of.

I decided to go vegetarian, starting with a layer of seasoned and smashed pinto beans followed by roasted sweet potato, red bell pepper and red onion. I also threw on some shredded iceberg lettuce for extra crunch and fresh-made pico de gallo for color. Crumbled queso fresco and a tangy lime crema add the crowning touch.

These vegetarian tostadas are stacked with two layers of smashed pinto beans, lettuce, pico and roasted sweet potatoes and bell peppers.

These vegetarian tostadas are stacked with two layers of smashed pinto beans, lettuce, pico and roasted sweet potatoes and bell peppers. Crumbled queso fresco and lime crema add the crowning touch. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

The joy of this recipe is that you can pick and choose whatever ingredients make you happy. Feel free to also play around with seasoned ground beef or chicken, chorizo, scrambled eggs, shredded cheese, jarred salsa and pickled jalapenos.

I stacked the tostadas in two layers for a heartier meal, but it can be made with just one layer.

Premade tostada shells can be found in the international aisle of most larger grocery store. They also can be made pretty easily from scratch.

Drizzle corn tortillas with a little oil, spread it on with your fingers and then place on a cookie sheet. Bake in a 350-degree oven until crispy and golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Or fry corn tortillas in a skillet with about 1/4 inch of oil until they sizzle and turn golden brown, about 45 seconds per side, then drain on paper towels. They should be super crispy.

To make lime crema, add the juice and zest of 1 lime and a generous pinch of salt to 1 cup of sour cream and whisk until well combined and creamy.

ROASTED VEGETABLES TOSTADAS

PG tested

For roasted veggies

  • 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced
  • 1 red onion, sliced thin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon oil

For bean layer

  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 cup minced white onion
  • Generous pinch of salt

For pico de gallo

  • 1 cup diced fresh tomato
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/4 small red onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely diced
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Chopped cilantro, to taste
  • Salt, to taste

For tostadas

  • 8 packaged tostadas
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco, or finely shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • Diced avocado, optional
  • Chopped cilantro, optional
  • Lime crema, optional

Prepare vegetables: Place sweet potatoes, peppers and red onion in a large bowl. Season with chili powder and a generous pinch of salt. Then toss with oil.

Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and roast veggies in a preheated 450-degree oven until tender, tossing halfway through, about 25 to 30 minutes.

While veggies are roasting, prepare beans. Combine drained pinto beans, cumin, chili powder and onion in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, until beans and onions soften. Mash with a fork and keep warm.

Prepare pico de gallo: In a medium bowl, combine the diced tomato, jalapeño, onion, garlic, lime juice, cilantro and a generous pinch of salt. Stir to combine, adding more salt if necessary.

Let rest for 15 minutes before serving so flavors can mingle.

Assemble tostadas: Spread a tostada shell with mashed beans. Top with shredded lettuce, roasted vegetables, pico de gallo, crumbled or shredded cheese, diced avocado, and chopped cilantro if using. Drizzle lime crema on top, and then repeat with a second layer. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

— Gretchen McKay

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