Oven-baked tortillas topped with creamy refried black beans, spicy nopalitos and caramelized onions, salsa verde, sliced avocado, and crumbled cotija… Vegetarian Tostadas with Black Beans and Nopalitos are a favorite easy and nutritious meal any time of day!
Here I am with another obscure, less-than-common ingredient featured in my recipe/post. I have covered nopalitos before in my Nopalitos and Red Chile Rice Bowls, and my High Protein Vegan Breakfast Burritos. Perhaps I’m on a crusade?
Nopalitos is the word for a dish that uses nopales – the prepared pads of the Opuntia (aka prickly pear) cactus – and primarily come from Mexico, central America, and border states. They are widely available canned or bottled, and less commonly, dried. I buy the fresh nopales with spines removed, already sliced, in the produce section of my local market. They are so fresh, and I’ve gotten to where I regularly include them in our weekend breakfasts. The slightly tart taste and firm texture works really well with eggs or tofu in a breakfast burrito. I would say they taste like a cross between a bell pepper and green beans.
Nopalitos are nutrient and fiber rich. They’re a great source of riboflavin, vitamin B6, copper, iron, vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium, manganese, and magnesium. You don’t need to remember all of these nutrients, just remember they’re nutrient and fiber rich, and give them a try! 😆 What do you say? Yay or nay? For more information, see 11 Impressive Benefits of Nopales.
Mark and I do our best to keep #MeatlessMonday. Depending on my blogging schedule, sometimes it waits a day or two. I knew I wanted this nopalitos recipe to be #MeatlessMonday compatible. If you’ve followed my blog any length of time, you know I’m a stickler for adequate protein in vegetarian main dishes. Unfortunately, I see a lot of lovely recipes in the blogosphere (vegetarian and non) that really don’t have adequate protein.
Ever looking for ways to cut down on fats, I opted to bake the corn tortillas. I have a mister, and lightly sprayed both sides of the tortillas with olive oil. Bake them in a 350° F oven for about 15 minutes total, turning once. While I love to make my own refried beans, I keep canned ones (lard-free) in my well-stocked pantry for quick meals. The caramelized onions and nopalitos come together quickly, making this an easy weeknight meal. Actually, I would eat one of these vegetarian tostadas breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
Have I sold you on nopales yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Recommended Cooking and Pantry Items:
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- 1 tablespoon coconut or olive oil
- 1 medium onion, sliced thin
- 12 ounces fresh nopales, (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano leaves
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 8 corn tortillas, brushed or misted with olive oil
- 1 15.5 ounce can refried black beans, heated (stove or microwave)
- prepared nopalitos
- 1/4 cup salsa verde, (see notes)
- 1 avocado, sliced thin
- 2 ounces cotija, crumbled
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
- Add coconut oil to a large, heavy saute pan over medium-high heat. I love my cast iron for this task.
- On one side of the pan, add the onion, and on the other, add the nopales. (Of course you can use 2 pans if you prefer). Cook, stirring (separately) occasionally until the onions begin to caramelize, and the nopales have given up their mucilage (gooey substance) if present. (About 10-15 minutes).
- Add the minced garlic, cumin, and oregano. Cook until fragrant and spices have a chance to brown a bit (about 5 minutes). Keep warm.
- While nopales cook, spritz the corn tortillas with olive oil on both sides. Place on a baking sheet in preheated oven. Turn once at 7-8 minutes, and cook until brown on the edges and firm
- Spread a thin layer of black beans on the tortilla. Top with nopalitos/onion mixture, salsa, avocado, a bit of crumbled cotija, and chopped cilantro.
My preference is the nopales that I find in a plastic bag at the local markets - already de-spined, and sliced. Jarred and canned nopalitos packed in water are widely available (rinse and drain). If you find cactus pads and want to prepare your own, see How-To: Preparing Nopales. The fresh are a bit of work if you have to break them down, but the fresh are worth a bit of extra effort!
I love to make Roasted Tomatillo and Hatch Green Chile Salsa Verde. I make a batch, and freeze it in 3 or 4 zip bags. It's awesome! I also love Herdez Salsa Verde when I can't do homemade. Feel free to use your favorite salsa...
Macronutrients (approximation from MyFitnessPal): 330 calories; 11 g protein; 38 g carbohydrates; 17 g fat. Serving size based on 2 tostadas - perfect for lunch. A dinner portion would probably be 3.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 330