I brought back a big stack of very fresh corn tortillas from Austin. The first thing I did with them was throw together some bean and cheese tortillas one morning. But something was wrong–neither Derek nor I liked them that much. So I decided to try Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast recipe for black bean tostadas with seitan. The black bean mixture turned out much better than my improvised version.
- 3 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 Tbs. cumin seeds, freshly ground
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 15 ounce can black beans (liquid reserved)
- 8 ounces seitan, finely chopped
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
- 1 Tbs. soy sauce
I cut the olive oil, but I don’t recall by how much. Maybe just 1 tablespoon? I added 1 Tbs. of ground cumin (ground in the last few weeks). I only had about 4 ounces of homemade seitan so I used about 2.5? cups of (home cooked) black beans. Berley’s ingredient list doesn’t call for the liquid from the beans, so I hadn’t reserved it. I had eaten up all the extra bean juice as a soup the day before. Instead I used some of the (quite flavorful) seitan cooking liquid. Since this liquid was quite salty (and my beans were salted) I omitted the soy sauce.
The technique: Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until the onion is lightly browned, then add the cumin and seitan and saute for another minute. Add the seitan, black beans (with their liquid), chipotle pepper, and soy sauce. Cook until the mixture thickens a bit.
The black bean mixture was surprisingly flavorful, but even after boiling it for a few minutes it wasn’t really thickening. So I took out my potato masher and mashed some of the beans. Voila! The perfect consistency for chalupas (as tostadas were called when I was a kid in Austin).
I didn’t try Berley’s recipe for cherry tomato salsa. Instead I just used a jar of high-quality store bought salsa (also brought from Austin).
I quite liked the black bean mixture on oven-crisped corn tortillas sprinkled with shredded lettuce, salsa, and a bit of grated cheddar. Derek, however, after trying one tostada, gave up on the tortillas and just ate a big bowl of beans with lettuce, cheese, avocado, cilantro and salsa. He said it was just like the “naked burrito” he likes to get at Qdoba or Chipotle.
Derek’s rating for bean mixture: A-
I also made the radish, orange, and avocado salad that’s part of this menu. It’s basically just those ingredients tossed with lemon juice and olive oil. I thought it was fine, but not really more than the sum of its parts. Berley says what makes it special is the combination of different textures, but for me the different textures detracted a little–the salad didn’t seem cohesive enough. It was fine, but I wouldn’t rush to make it again. Derek didn’t care for it at all, but he’s generally fruit averse. Rating: B/B-
This week I also made the salad from fall menu three: romaine salad with sun-drired tomatoes and lemon-parmesan dressing. The dressing is a mix of olive oil, lemon juice, dijon mustard, and parmesan. The amount of oil seemed high so I cut it down by a few Tablespoons. The dressing was okay, but I wouldn’t rush to make it again. The salad calls for just romaine lettuce and sun dried tomatoes, but I wanted a bit more substance, so I added some cooked white beans, sliced raw mushrooms and radishes. The mix was quite nice, and it worked pretty well with the dressing. I liked this salad and Derek seemed to enjoy it also. I think the fact that I used (rehydrated) dry sundried tomatoes rather than oil-packed ones was key. They were salty though! Rating: B