Health Is Beauty

Super-simple Vegetarian Tostadas Recipe

Keep some basic ingredients around and have a fun tostada night anytime.

I’ve tried every which way, but I’m just not much of a cook. But because I like to eat, and restaurant dining isn’t really affordable every night of the week, I’ve become what my roommates call an ‘assembler.’ I make a lot of creative sandwiches, salads and meals from food that I can assemble and pop in the oven for a few minutes (I use my toaster oven for solo quantities and a big oven when I’m cooking for my boyfriend and I).

So I was excited to make the below dish the other night with just about five minutes of chopping, and a minute or two of piling and then throwing it in the oven. I happen to love food from Mexico and Central America, so I usually have a couple cans of beans in the house, a jar of salsa, some corn tacos (they keep for weeks and weeks in the fridge!) and cheese of various kinds. I have a pretty serious tomato habit, and so there are always some in my fruit bowl (I think I must eat at least a tomato a day).

Other ingredients/additions/toppings can be whatever you have in your house; the recipe below was actually totally inspired by an avocado at my boyfriend’s place that had to be eaten that hour, but packaged guac (Trader Joe’s sells a really good one that keeps for up to a month in the fridge since it’s vacuum-packed) works too.

And plus, how fun are tostadas? To make and devour, they are just a good time, especially paired with a delicious local beer or two.

Starre’s Simple Sunday Night Tostadas
(serves 2)

6 corn taco shells
1/2 can organic black beans
1/2 can organic pinto beans
1 cup mixed cheeses (I used some old muenster and some new cheddar, but use whatever you’ve got that will melt!)
Teaspoon chili powder
Fresh black pepper
1/3 cup diced organic onion
3 sliced shitake mushrooms

diced vine-ripened tomato
shredded lettuce or pea shoots
salsa to your taste (I like hot)
organic sour cream
1 whole organic avocado, smooshed with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 lime’s juice

-Line a flat baking sheet with the six taco shells (you can toast them beforehand for 2-3 minutes if you like them crispier).

-Add rinsed black beans and pinto beans, then shitake mushrooms, then chili powder. Layer cheese with the diced onion.

-Toast for five minutes in a toaster oven, or in a pre-heated 400-degree oven.

-Let cool for 30 seconds, then add fresh toppings in various combinations. Enjoy!

Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.