Tuesday, May 21, 2013

For the Gardener: Chipotle Spiced Lamb & Kale Tostadas

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. ~ Margaret Atwood

You can't see me right now but I'm totally doing a little happy dance.  Well, little wiggles in my chair, but that still counts.  Nope, not drunk (though I did have the best mango margarita this afternoon), but insanely happy that I've officially started gardening.  I busted out the garden gloves and the trowels and got friendly with some dirt today.  It felt good.  After what seemed like the longest winter in the history of the universe, I never thought I'd be so happy to uproot dandelions.  Just watching earthworms slither along the freshly turned over soil made me smile.  I'm a total weirdo, but after the winter I've had, you'd do the same thing.  I'm also super happy to have my post-surgery strength back, which means I don't have to be so paranoid about lifting anything over 10 pounds.  (Um, my cats are fat over ten pounds so I can finally squish them to bits.  I think this pleases me more than them).  Being strong again means all I want to do is make my yard pretty.  Which kinda means less time is spent in the kitchen, so food has to be quick and dirty.  And that's why today we are talkin' tostadas.

Corn tortillas are a great staple to have on hand.  Place some cheddar cheese between two of them, fry them a little on both sides till the cheese is melted and you have the best midnight snack ever.  Slice them, fry them and put them in soup.  And of course, top them with a yummy meat mixture, more cheese and bake them till bubbly.  All you need is fresh and spicy salsa, avocado, sour cream, and cilantro for garnishes and you are living the life.

I don't eat a lot of lamb, but I picked up a package of ground lamb from a local farmer just to try something new.  It's really easy to just reach for the pack of ground beef (and you can totally use beef in this recipe if you wish) but it's fun to experiment now and again too.  Lamb and kale are great friends, and they are made even better with the punches of Mexican spices.  If you don't have taco seasoning, use chili powder.  If you don't have ground chipotle powder, use some canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  You could even get away with a few splashes of chipotle hot sauce.  Honey brings the bit of sweetness to balance the bite.  Kale is added to the meat during the last few minutes, and I really loved how it absorbed the wonderful flavours going on.  Oh, and if you are avoiding gluten, this is recipe is totally for you.

Assembly is so easy.  Take your corn tortilla, top with the lamb/kale filling and cheddar cheese.  Bake until cheese is golden and gooey, then let the peeps gathered around your dinner table garnish their own tostadas.  Some might just wanna heap 'em high with salsa and sour cream; others just want avocado and cilantro.  Me?  I want it all.  I love the crispy bits around the edges of the tostada, and in some places the kale got crispy too and it reminded me of kale chips.  Who doesn't love kale chips?!  Mexican food is my jam and I'm not just saying that because I had the best mango margarita today.  I love love love the flavours playing here and I just hope the kale seeds I plant grow big and strong, for I have a feeling this is one recipe I'll be making over and over again. 

 Chipotle Spiced Lamb & Kale Tostadas

1 tbsp olive oil
1 pound (454grams) ground lamb (or ground beef, turkey, or chicken)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp taco seasoning (or chili powder)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground chipotle powder (or 1 minced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
4 cups kale, chopped (it's okay to have the thick ribs, just chop them small)
1 tsp honey

8 corn tortillas
2 cup white cheddar cheese
1 avocado, chopped
1 cup salsa
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cilantro leaves

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil then add the ground lamb.  Breaking it up with the back of your wooden spoon, cook it until no longer pinkish.  Add the onions and garlic and cook it a few minutes longer.  Add in all of the spices and salt and continue cooking for 5 minutes.  Stir in the chopped kale, and cook it until the kale is soft, 5 minutes longer.  Let the filling cool down for 10 minutes.
Line 2 bakesheets with parchment.  Place 4 corn tortillas on each.  Top each tortilla with some lamb and kale mixture and top with cheddar cheese.  Bake in a preheated 400*F degree oven for 10-13 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom at the halfway point (this helps the tostadas brown evenly).  Cheese should be golden and bubbly.  Remove from oven. Let each person top their tostada with avocado, salsa, sour cream and cilantro plus whatever else you like.  Serves 3-4. 


  1. I'm with you. When I'm busy in the garden, food has to be quick and dirty - as you say :)

  2. Wow. These look beautiful and most importantly, delicious!

    I'm with you on gardening, but must admit to not being a fan of the worms. They always creep me out a bit, even though I know how beneficial they are.

  3. Work term + school + real job = no veggie patch this year. But our property is covered in perennial gardens to keep us busy! So rewarding when you get jealous looks from the neighbours.

    Glad you're back in squish mode with the fur babies! Those tostadas are probably partially responsible for your recovery...

  4. OH So colorful and tasty! I have ground lamb in the freezer and have been collecting recipes to figure out what I'm going to do with it. This recipe is definitely the golden ticket to deliciousness!

  5. Your tostadas look so cheery and delicious I wish I could reach in and scoop one up right now! Glad to know that you're doing better and happily indulging in things you enoy :)

  6. So colourful and I am sure it was quite tasty!

  7. My mouth is watering just looking at the tostadas! I love that you went with lamb, and all the fresh veg looks so good! Happy gardening!

  8. Kate - indeed! Happy gardening!
    Jennifer - thank you! Oh the worms gross me out too, and I'm in the midst of a battle with some slugs. Hope I'm the winner!
    Movita - I bet you have a gorgeous yard - I planted several perennial beds too over the years - can't wait for my alliums and poppies to open soon. And yes, the fur babes are happy with the squishes, but on their terms only. Typical.
    Julia - Yay! One always needs a good ground lamb recipe. Happy to help out :)
    Needful things - thank you kindly. I wish I could share one with you too :)
    Val - thank you!
    Jess - thanks lady! Ah, the fresh veg this time of year really makes the tostada over the top delicious. Sour cream, too!

  9. These sound fantastic. I'm always looking for interesting new ways to use our homegrown grass-fed lamb - in fact, I have a package of ground lamb defrosting right now, and there's kale in the kitchen garden. Thanks for the delicious inspiration - I may have to take tonight's lamb burgers off the menu! :)


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