I had been thinking about black beans for weeks. I wanted to cook a big pot of them and then use them in a couple of different dishes. Mostly, I was thinking about making black bean soup. In the process of searching here and there to compare and contrast different soup recipes, I discovered this gem of a starter in Rick Bayless’ Mexico One Plate at a Time. Crisp, slender-cut tostadas smeared with pureed black beans and topped with a fresh mix of smoked salmon, tomato, green onion, serranos, and cilantro grabbed my attention, and I went right off to collect the ingredients.
To make the black bean puree, avocado leaf is suggested as an optional ingredient. If you’re lucky enough to have some, you are to crumble a leaf and add it to the food processor with the beans. I read a recent blog post on Oyster Food and Culture about avocado leaves and hoped I’d be able to locate some for this recipe. In fact, I left the house feeling sure I’d find avocado leaves. I was wrong. Once again, a hunt for a specific ingredient was unsuccessful. One day, I’m going to open my own little specialty shop for all of these ingredients that I never seem to find. At any rate, the avocado leaf was optional, so I proceeded without it. Onion and garlic were sauteed and then added to the food processor bowl with the black beans. It was processed until smooth and then returned to a saute pan. Bean cooking liquid was stirred into the puree a little at a time until a a soft consistency was achieved. That was kept warm while the salmon mixture was made and the tortillas were cut into long triangles. The instructions suggest frying the tortillas, but I brushed them with oil and baked them instead. Then, the tostaditas were assembled and topped with some crema.
The smoked salmon mixture was ceviche-ish although there was no lime. The smoky saltiness of the salmon with the crunchy green onions and chiles contrasted nicely with the smooth bean puree. These tostaditas would be great for a party as a small amount of smoked salmon was stretched to serve several portions. Also, by cutting the tortillas yourself, whether you fry or bake them, you can decide the size and shape for ease of serving. This was another winner of a dish from Bayless, and I haven’t encountered a disappointment from this book yet.