As you may have gathered from previous posts, we are big fans of Mexican food around here. Mainly because it is very delicious, but also because it’s very easy to make and quite diverse. Even with only a few staple ingredients on hand, you can throw together an awesome meal. Not into beef? Chicken tacos it is! Not into meat at all? Beans will do. Add a variety of toppings, and the possibilities are endless.

Last weekend we were focused on staying in and preparing our own restaurant-quality meal. We’ve done Mexican quite a bit lately, so I was looking for something a little different. And I needed a break from meat and/or pasta dishes. I turned to my Martha Stewart Cookbook, which I’ve realized I’ve quite neglected (not sure why- it’s such a gem!) In the Meatless Main Dishes section I found a great recipe for a Tostada Salad.

Tostada Salad
from Martha Stewart Living: The Original Classics

12 corn tortillas
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more for sprinkling
5 cups (three 15 and 1/2 oz. can) canned black beans,  drained, liquid reserved, beans rinsed
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 and 1/2 tablespoons sherry or red-wine vinegar
5 ounces romaine lettuce, cut across into 1/4-inch strips
3 tomatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch dice
2 ounces Cotija or feta cheese, crumbled
2 scallions, white and green parts, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch lengths
2 radishes, trimmed and cut into thin slices
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs remobed, minced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the center. Place 6 tortillas on a baking sheet. Bake until just toasted, about 5 minutes per side. Set aside. Quarter the remaining 6 tortillas; place on baking sheet. Sprinkle with cayenne. Bake until just toasted, about 4 minutes per side.

Heat the beans in a medium saucepan until hot. Place half in a medium bowl. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of the reserved bean liquid, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, the cumin and oregano, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and the vingar. Toss; set aside. Place the remaining beans in a medium bowl. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of the bean liquid; mash until smooth.

Place one crisp whole tortilla on each plate. Spread each with with the mashed black beans. Arrange the whole beans, lettuce, and half the tomatoes in layers on top of the tortilla. Sprinkle on the cheese and half the scallions, radishes, cilantro, and jalapeno. Combine the remaining half of the tomatoes, scallions, cilantro, and jalapeno in a small bowl to make a salsa. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the salsa over the tostadas, and serve with the crisp corn tortilla chips.

This meal was awesome! It was so fresh and flavorful. Each bite had a totally new and refreshing taste. I followed the recipe pretty closely, substituting a bit of bagged salad for the romaine lettuce, but it was barely any difference. The only slight setback of the meal was that the chips were just not quite crisp enough- there was something funny about them, a little more chewy than crispy. But still, such a great dinner.

We made some Sangria, which I threw together based on a few recipes I have tried over the past year or so:

Summer Sangria

1 bottle of dry red wine
juice of one lemon
juice of one orange
juice of one lime
1/2 cup triple sec
1/4 cup sugar
one lemon, sliced
one orange, sliced
one lime, sliced
1/2 cup strawberries, sliced

In a large pitcher or bowl, mix together the wine, lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice,  triple sec, and sugar. Float slices of lemon, orange and lime, and strawberries in the mixture. Refrigerate overnight for best flavor. For a fizzy sangria, add club soda just before serving.

I found these great giant jars at Ikea last weekend and the Sangria fit perfectly inside.

We had ourselves quite the little dinner on the back porch. Summer is almost here, and this meal was the best way to ring it in. Cheers!