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Pinto Bean and Vegetable Chili Tostada
with Salsa Fresca and Avocado-Cilantro Cream

Recipe courtesy of the Golden Door Cookbook

Meaty Portobello mushrooms and rich spices fortify this bold chili. Stacked between layers of a crispy tostada, garnished with a generous serving of fresh salsa, and drizzled with avocado-cilantro cream, a tasty but humble bowl of chili is easily transformed into an elegant vegetarian meal. And it’s a meal with some serious nutritional chops: pinto beans are a good source of protein and are an excellent source of fiber. A mere ½ cup has 6 grams of fiber--nearly one-quarter of your daily fiber needs. Use very thin corn tortillas for the tostadas – they are usually marked “for chips” on the package. Regular, thicker corn tortillas harden in the oven and not as pleasant to eat.

Serves 8


1 cup dried pinto beans, picked over and rinsed, or 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf

For the Salsa Fresca:

1 large ripe, red tomato, diced (1 ¼ cups)
½ small red onion, diced (1/2 cup)
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Avocado-Cilantro Cream:

½ medium avocado
¼ cup light sour cream
1 ½ teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves

For the Pinto Bean & Vegetable Chili:

Canola oil spray
1 medium onion, diced (1 cup)
½ medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced (1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 serrano chile, seeded and minced
1 medium zucchini, diced (1 cup)
1 cup fresh corn kernels (from about 2 ears corn)
12 ounces portobello mushroom caps, gills scraped out with a spoon, diced (4 cups)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

For the Tostadas:

8 (5-inch) thin corn tortillas or whole wheat flour tortillas
Canola oil spray


Prepare the beans. If using dried beans, place the pinto beans in a bowl and cover with cold water by 2 inches. Let stand overnight. Drain the soaked beans and transfer the beans to a medium saucepan. Add the cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and cold water to cover by 2 inches, and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until tender, about 1 hour. Drain if necessary, reserving ½ cup of the cooking liquid. Set the beans aside with the cinnamon stick and bay leaf.

While the beans are cooking, prepare the salsa fresca. In a large bowl, combine the tomato, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Stir until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day before serving.

Prepare the avocado-cilantro cream. Combine the avocado, sour cream, lime juice, 2 tablespoons water, the garlic, salt, and pepper in a blender. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the cilantro and blend until chopped, about 5 seconds more. The cream should be the consistency of mustard; add a small amount of water if necessary to achieve this consistency. Transfer the cream to a squeeze bottle. Alternatively the cream can be placed in a plastic zipper-lock bag, and when ready to serve, cut off one corner of the bag. (The cream can be covered and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 hours before serving.)

Prepare the pinto bean and vegetable chili. Spray a heavy-bottomed saucepan with oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and serrano chile, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the zucchini, corn, and mushrooms and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are slightly soft and give off liquid, about 5 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, and salt and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes and stir well. Add the tomato sauce, the cooked, drained beans or canned beans, the reserved ½ cup bean cooking liquid or ½ cup water, and the cinnamon stick and bay leaf, if not already added. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Set aside.

While the chili is cooking, prepare the tostadas. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit . Have ready two nonstick baking sheets or line two regular baking sheets with parchment and spray lightly with oil.

Cut the tortillas in half. Place the half-moons on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the tostadas over and bake until very crisp, 5 to 10 minutes.

To serve, spoon ½ cup vegetable chili into each of eight shallow bowls. Place a tostada on top of the chili, and then add another small scoop of chili. Place another tostada on top of the chili and top with a generous spoonful or two of salsa fresca. Squeeze the avocado-cilantro cream over the entire dish. Serve.

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