Time is flying by, isn’t it? We’re already well into March, and spring is definitely in the air given the amount of melting going on around here. My cookbook manuscript and photographs are due on April 1st, so you can well imagine what I’ve been up to. I’m almost done the recipes - just 10 left to shoot - and my testers are hard at work making sure everything is turning out the way it’s supposed to. Let me tell you, having all these sweets in the house sounds pretty dreamy, and for the most part it is, but holy smokes, I’m having to run across the street with a dozen cream puffs for my neighbours, or calling up friends asking them to take away a cake. I figure I’ll need a month of green smoothies to detox from the sugar and butter I’ve accumulated in my system over the past 7 months, but oh my, the treats coming out of my little green kitchen are impressive. I made French honey crullers the other day, and oh lord, I swooned. Needless to say, meals around here have to be relatively easy and healthy - I don’t have much energy to feed myself after a long day of baking, photographing and writing. That’s where pulses come in - they are quick, tasty, economical and good for me. Now if only someone could wash the dishes and give me back rubs…
At the beginning of the year, I wrote about taking the Pulse Pledge. Have you guys been doing it? So easy, just eat pulses once a week for ten weeks. Pulses (lentils, chickpeas, dry peas, and beans) are super affordable, versatile and good for both you and the environment. I know I’ve cut back on the amount of meat I eat - just because writing a cookbook is expensive and I’m on a tight budget - but I also like to swap half the meat for pulses, like in spaghetti sauce, meatballs, and burgers. It’s pretty easy. And I know that pulses are good for me, helping reduce cholesterol (hello, butter) and reduce the risk factors for heart disease, and diabetes. Plus they are high in protein and fibre, making me feel full and giving much-needed energy throughout the day. These little superfoods are a pantry staple in my house and have been for a long while. I love that they are sustainable, requiring just one-tenth of the water that other proteins need, and they put nitrogen back into the soil. Good for the environment = good for mother earth = good for me.
I’ve been making these black bean tostadas for well over 20 years. The hand-scrawled recipe is in my first-ever recipe book I began when I first moved away from home back in 1993. Living in Montréal, my roommate and I were on tight budgets, and pulses, even back then, were a mainstay in our meal plans. Cans of black beans could be found for under $1 each, and corn tortillas at only a few bucks for a large stack, meant these were cheap and cheerful. And delicious. I haven’t swayed from the original recipe at all, except now I cook my beans from their dry state rather than buy canned. It’s pretty easy - just bring a kettle of water to boil. Add about 1 cup of dry black beans (or any beans) to a medium saucepan and cover with a couple of inches of boiling water. Simmer the beans on low for about 2 hours (less for white beans) until they are very tender. Drain and use for your favourite pulse recipe. If you have any extras, they can be frozen as well, for up to one month. I like to cook a big batch of beans on the weekend, then have them ready for quick meals like this during the week. I know. Smartie pants!!!
The cooked black beans are simmered with tomatoes, spices and a bit of orange juice to liven things up. I used a whole jalapeno pepper, but if you are on the less-spicy side of the spectrum, use less jalapeno. Spoon the mixture onto corn tortillas, and top with grated cheddar. I like the aged stuff, personally. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the cheese is hot and bubbly. Remove from the oven and top with all the usual suspects: guacamole, salsa, sour cream, and if you are on team cilantro, add some of that too. Because we’re all friends here, I like to eat these with my hands, no fork required. Just pick up and chomp away. Be sure to have napkins at the ready, because things could get messy. But these are so good, a little salsa on the face is worth every bite.
This is a sponsored post. I was compensated financially by USA Pulses and Pulse Canada. As always, all opinions are my own and I wouldn’t tell you about something if I didn’t honestly and truly love it.
Black Bean Tostadas
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (use less for less heat)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups cooked black beans or 1 540 ml can, rinsed
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp chili powder
2 tbsp water
½ cup chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
8 corn tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
guacamole, salsa, sour cream, cilantro to serve.
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, add the oil. Stir in the diced onion and sauté for 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Stir in the chopped jalapeno pepper, and cook for another minute. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the black beans, tomatoes, orange juice, spices and water. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the mixture seems too thick, add a bit more water. Stir in the cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Let the mixture cool down for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425F.Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Arrange 4 corn tortillas per sheet. Spread about ⅓ of a cup of black bean filling on top of the corn tortilla, leaving about a ½ inch border. Top each with shredded cheddar. Bake for 5 minutes, then rotate pans from bottom to top, and bake another 5 minutes. Serve with guacamole, salsa, sour cream and extra cilantro, if you like. Leftover black beans keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 1 month. Makes 8 tostadas.