These simple, vegetarian and gluten-free tostadas are topped with a spicy black bean puree and piled high with creamy, cheesy Mexican street corn.
In the summertime, New York is the land of a thousand street fairs. When we were living in Brooklyn, it seemed like every corner we turned, blocks were barricaded off and booths were set up selling…nothing that great, actually. Cheap plastic toys, six-packs of athletic socks, subscriptions to the New York Times. There were always cheese arepas, “fresh” (not fresh) lemonade, and greasy funnel cakes. I don’t mean to sound like a warm weather Scrouge, but most of the time I viewed street fairs as the pedestrian equivalent of a major traffic jam.
But the street corn! Oh, how I loved that street corn. It was perfectly charred on a hot grill, slathered with tangy crema, and showered with crumbly cheese and cilantro.
Lately I’ve had such a craving for Mexican street corn (maybe because Cinco de Mayo is coming up?) that I had to learn how to make it for myself. And, not content to serve it as a side, I turned it into an easy vegetarian main dish.
I’ve actually never made tostadas before, and now I kind of feel like the floodgates have been opened. What else can I pile on top of crispy tortilla shells? Or perhaps the better question is what can’t I?
Tostada shells are traditionally fried, but since I have a slight fear of frying (I’m trying to get over it, but seriously it’s so messy, and then you have to dispose of all that gross oil…) I spritzed my tortillas with vegetable oil spray and then baked them in the oven until they were nice and crispy. The spicy bean layer is just black beans and canned diced tomatoes and green chilies (I used the Rotel fire-roasted kind) blended together with a pinch of cumin and simmered until thick.
You could definitely grill your corn for this dish, but I was feeling lazy so I just charred mine in a cast iron skillet. Then I tossed it with my version of crema: a little mayonnaise, a little sour cream, chili powder, and plenty of lime zest and juice. The cheese you pick for sprinkling is really up to you. Cotija is the classic. I couldn’t find it so I used feta (a close substitute). Tyler Florence’s street corn recipe uses Parmesan, so if you don’t like feta I would give that a try.
The quick pickled red onions are optional, but they are so pretty and easy—definitely make them if you have an extra five minutes. (Side note: we may be a little bit obsessed with putting pickled onions on everything we eat.)
I served these with a little tomato-avocado salad on the side and we literally devoured them. Make them for Cinco de Mayo or your next taco night, and might I suggest a grapefruit and cucumber paloma or a strawberry lime jalapeño shandy to wash them down?
Oh, and don’t forget that the $300 dollar Amazon giveaway is still going on! If you haven’t already, be sure to enter for your chance to win. Good luck!
- 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 3/4 cup canned diced tomatoes with green chilies
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin (optional)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 cups fresh corn kernels (from 4-5 large ears)
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- Zest of 1lime plus juice of 1/2 lime
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Choppend fresh cilantro, for serving
- Pickled red onions, for serving (optional--see notes)
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup. Arrange the tortillas in a single layer on the baking sheet and mist with vegetable oil cooking spray. Flip them over and mist the other side. Bake, flipping once halfway through, until tortillas are mostly crisp. Set aside. (Tortillas will crisp more as they cool.)
- Combine the black beans, diced tomatoes with green chilies, and cumin (if using) in a blender and blend until almost smooth with a few chunks. Transfer to a small pot and cook over medium heat until hot and thickened, about 15 minutes. (Alternatively, you can puree the beans and tomatoes directly in the pot using an immersion blender.) Set aside.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 2 cups of corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until it just begins to brown and char. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with the remaining 2 cups of corn.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic, chili powder, and lime zest and juice. Pour over the corn and toss to coat.
- To assemble, spread each tostada with some of the bean mixture and top with a big scoop of the corn. Sprinkle with feta, cilantro, and pickled onions (if using).
- To make pickled red onions, toss 1/2 a thinly sliced red onion with 1/4 cup each cold water and red wine vinegar. Add a big pinch of salt and sugar and a few dashing of hot sauce (optional). Set aside for 30 minutes.