Growing up, my mom had a friend who lived near us named Patricia. Patricia was so kind, generous, and beautiful. She lived in Mexico City but would come to our town for a few months a year and rent out a place near our home. My mom met her at the park and because Patricia’s daughter Stephanie was close to my sister Haseena’s age, they had lots of play dates planned.
Patricia was loud and fun and just a hoot to be around. I remember one time she came to town unannounced and I was home while my parents were out on a walk. I wasn’t supposed to be watching TV but I obviously was and when my parents rang the doorbell we had this routine of throwing the front door open and scurrying up the stairs so that we wouldn’t get in *too* much trouble. I remember one day the doorbell rang and my parents were supposed to be there. I flew the door open and started running up the stairs as usual and instead of hearing my mom yelling at me I heard Patricia’s boisterous voice “Farzana?” I had never been happier that it wasn’t my mom at the door. I loved that woman. She died a few years after we had met her so I carry the memory of her fondly. I always wonder what happened to Stephanie, too.
When Patricia was in town, it was so fun going to her place because she always gave us the best gifts and cook traditional Mexican food for us! That’s where I first learned of delicious foods like crema, queso fresco, and the glorious tostada.
A tostada is a fried tortilla that is super crispy and topped with any toppings that you could possibly want. It’s like an unfolded hard taco but because it is flat you can pile on the toppings. Absolutely delicious because of the different textures that you get with the toppings – crunchy, creamy, warm, cold, crispy, spicy, and soothing. It’s just the best.
Because Patricia knew that we didn’t eat pork she usually gave us vegetarian tostadas. And this dish – which I can hardly claim as a recipe – is in her honor. I hope you guys like it!
First, we will need a can of vegetarian refried beans. You can get whatever brand you like, I’ve pretty much tried them all and they’re good. This was my first time trying this brand and I got it because it was the cheapest that day. It was good.
Place the refried beans into a saucepan along with half of a can of water and heat it up, mixing often under medium-high heat. I placed a lid slightly ajar on the pan so that some of the water can evaporate.
Next, you’ll want to get your toppings ready. I like crunchy iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, avocados, jalapeño, and cilantro leaves (which I didn’t have that day – boo!).
Queso fresco is a mild, crumbly fresh cheese that is absolutely essential for tostadas. It is so good and if you have it once, you’ll always want it when eating your favorite Mexican dishes. I crumble mine up with a fork.
Now it’s all a matter of assembling your tostadas! I like to puddle on a generous amount of the beans at the bottom of my tostada, top with the queso fresco (it sticks to the beans if they are on the bottom) and then pile on your favorite toppings. I also top mine with some hot sauce. I like things spicy.