Chipotle and Black Bean Tostadas

Posted on March 12, 2014


Tostadas on things{we}make

If I lived nearer London I wouldn’t make these.

I’d just rock up to somewhere like Wahaca and yell “Bring me tequila and tostadas!” But we live hours away from anywhere offering even a sniff of Mexican, so if I want them: I gotta make ’em.

I love Mexican food: Not Tex-Mex style, all loaded with cheese, guac and sour cream; but the fresh, punchy flavours of the real stuff.

When it comes to trying new food you can get George to eat anything if it is handheld and crispy. Added bonus points are awarded if you can ‘build it yourself’ or if it is some sort of snacky item like fresh Corn Tortillas. Tostadas score high and although they should really be street food or a starter they become a whole meal for us.

Just add beer (or Lilt if you are only 12)

2 Tostadas - things{we}make

Note that there were only 2 tostadas left to photograph…we ate the rest in a Friday night snack-fest. I don’t make food to photograph just for the blog; I make it to eat. What you get is the spoils. We’re keeping it real here, readers.

I like the cross-pollination between Mexican dishes; that one key ingredient can be used in different ways within a meal. The easy Chipotle Sauce below can be used as a flavouring or topping, like I do here, or as a meat marinade or even mixed in with mayo or butter. It’s hot, sweet, smoky and rich and really pimps the black beans so they don’t taste at all like the claggy re-fried beans you might be expecting.

I use a mix of dried Ancho and Chipotle Chillies, they both have a smoky and almost chocolatey aroma; especially as you steep them in the hot water. I use mainly the large Ancho chillies as they are rich and mild.

Tostadas on things{we}make

Another Mexican food that I am strangely fascinated by is the corn husk wrapped Tamale. We’ve made them a couple of times, but they fall into the same category for me as Italian soft polenta. I know it should be all comforting and traditional but they just don’t push enough of my buttons to make them worth the effort.

The basis of these recipes lies within the pages of Thomasina Miers’ book: Mexican Food, but I get a bit tangled up in it as it references from one page to another. I am but a simple soul.

Here I have Claire-ified: reduced quantities and put everything together into one place so I don’t have to try to hold 6 pages open with bags of Mexican Oregano, my phone and a carving knife.

Tostadas on things{we}make

If you are short of time there are many ways you can shortcut here. You could just buy a tin of black beans instead of using dried beans, you could buy chipotle paste…heck you can even buy the nachos, but where’s the fun in that?

Things{we}make Black Bean and Chipotle Tostadas

Chipotle Sauce

1-2 Dried chipotle (smaller hot) chillies
3 Dried ancho (milder & bigger) chillies
2 Cloves of garlic
2 dessert spoons of brown sugar
Juice of half a lime
2 Teaspoons fish sauce
Salt and pepper

Rehydrate the dried chills by snipping off the stalks (shake out the seeds you don’t need them) then putting them in a small bowl and covering with boiling water. Leave to soak for a couple of hours.
Put the softened chillies and all the other ingredients into a food processor (or a pestle and mortar) and blend to a paste.
Adjust seasoning and lime if necessary: it should end up as a sweet, spicy, tangy ketchup.
Use it for all sorts of other things that need a kick of smoky chilli flavour.
I get the chillies from MexGrocer online.
I sometimes strain this through a sieve to make it lovely and smooth.

Prepping the Black Beans

200g Dried black beans
2 Cloves of garlic
2 Bay leaves
1 Small onion
1-2 Teaspoons salt

If you are able soak the beans in plenty of cold water overnight, or for the day.
Rinse the beans and then cover and bring to the boil.
Pour away this water away then add fresh water.
Add the garlic, bay leaves onion (cut into quarters) then simmer until soft.
This may take a 2-3 hours if you have not soaked them or about an hour if you have.
When you test them and they are nearly soft – add a tsp salt for the last few minutes.
Adding it earlier will stop them softening.
Remove the onion, if you can find it, and bay leaves (the garlic has probably dissolved)
Save a little of the draining water and add more salt if they need it.

Black Bean and Chipotle Topping

Black Beans as prepared above (or from a tin)
1 Crushed garlic clove
2 Spring onions chopped
The juice of half a lime
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 Large pinch of cumin
Salt & pepper

In a food processor blitz half of the beans (as made above)
Add the crushed garlic clove, spring onions, lime juice, olive oil, cumin and some salt and pepper.
Pour in a little of the reserved bean water to loosen the mix – pulse until smooth.
Add a little oil to a frying pan and gently fry the bean paste until hot then add the whole beans and cook for 5 minutes more.
Stir in some of the Chipotle Sauce to season…until it tastes right to you.


Take a packet of flour tortillas and cut 4 circles out of each one using a cookie cutter.
Fry batches of 4 circles in hot sunflower oil (about 5 cm deep in a small pan) until lightly browned.
Drain on kitchen paper.

Other Toppings

Chopped avocado, tossed in lime juice
Shredded Iceberg lettuce
Crumbled feta cheese (disguising itself as queso fresco)
Fresh tomato salsa


We like to make our own as we go, then you can mix and match the toppings, but my preference is to spread a spoonful of beans on each tostada, add cubes of avocado and shredded lettuce then a little chipotle sauce & top with crumbled feta.