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3 Guatemalan Tostadas: Red Salsa, Guac & Black Bean

3 tostadas Guatemala tomato guacamole black bean low res

This trio of Guatemalan tostadas—red salsa, guacamole and black bean—are one of her favorite family recipes for three reasons, says homecook Adriana Trevi. Uno: they are so easy to make. Dos: they’re a festive crowd-pleaser. And tres: they’re traditional and the perfect warmup to an authentic Guatemalan feast. That makes them one of the top snacks in her native Guatemala, says Adriana. Where she grew up in the southern Guatemalan city of Amatitlán, people pick up a couple from a street cart or make a quick batch to serve family and guests while you’re in the kitchen getting the rest of the meal ready.  

“We don’t use the word appetizer, but tostadas are considered an appetizer in Guatemala. It’s what you eat when you’re waiting for the tamales,” says Adriana, who comes from a family of six brothers and sisters—all great cooks. The seis siblings now live in Illinois, and when they get together for tamales and ponche every Christmas holiday—usually at the house of their oldest sister Marleny ”Leny” González, a tremenda cocinera—tostadas are on the menu.

”Tostadas are perfect for those days, because everyone gets up and makes their own with whatever toppings and garnishes they like best, while we wait for the big meal,” Adriana says. “I love tostadas.”

When she makes them, Adriana puts out a tray of each kind and invites family and friends to serve themselves. Pro tip: Tostadas are delicious to serve with ceviche, she adds. Try it!

The garnishes are muy importante no matter what kind of tostada you make. ”The secret to a good Guatemalan tostada is to top it with your onion, your parsley and your cheese,” says Adriana. ”If you don’t have onion, parsley and cheese, you do not have a tostada.”

Specifically, this means red onion sliced in super-thin rounds, minced fresh parsley, and shredded Guatemalan queso seco—if you can find it, says Adriana. She never can in the U.S., so Mexican queso fresco is the next closest thing, she says. “But queso seco has a delicious aroma and taste that are different. If you can find it, use it. That makes these tostadas really Guatemalan.”

The tomato salsa base is súper simple, says Adriana. You boil tomatoes, onion and a tiny bit of jalapeño, then pulse them in a blender. All three tostadas get a spoonful of this red sauce, she says.

Another insider tip to make these tostadas the traditional Guatemalan way: Don’t skimp on the toppings. “You have to pile on the queso, the parsley and the red salsa,” says Adriana. It won’t look neat and pretty—and that is OK. ”This is poor food for hungry people. This is not an Instagram-y dish. This is not avocado toast!”

“The more rustic and simple these look, the better. For us, we think it will taste better and more authentic.”

For more Guatemalan dishes, check out her sister Leny’s family-famous recipes, including one of their country’s most popular bizcochos, the traditional Guatemalan borracho cake, as well as Guatemalan fruit ponche (often served with rum at their house)—both of which Leny is famous for making every December.

Also be sure to check out the family-famous recipe for Luis Yanes’ Guatemalan pork tamales, one of Familia Kitchen’s most popular recipes—ever.

Hungry for These Top 3 Guatemalan Tostadas?

3 Guatemalan Tostadas: Red Salsa, Guacamole & Black Bean

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by Adriana Trevi Cuisine: Guatemalan
Servings

12

servings (4 each)
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes

Ingredients

  • For All 3 Tostadas
  • 12 12 tostadas, premade and packaged OR (see below)

  • 12 12 tortillas, fried until crispy into tostadas OR (see above)

  • 1 1 red onion, thin-sliced into rings, for garnish

  • 1 bunch 1 fresh parsley, minced, for garnish

  • 2 cups 2 queso seco or queso fresco, shredded, for garnish

  • For the Red Salsa Topping
  • 1/3 1/3 white onion

  • 3 3 tomatoes, whole

  • 1/2 1/2 jalapeño (optional, seed if you want less heat)

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 salt

  • 2 Tbsp 2 white onion, chopped, for the sofrito

  • 3 T 3 olive oil, for the sofrito

  • 1 clove 1 garlic, whole, for the sofrito (and then remove)

  • 1 pinch 1 salt, for the sofrito

  • 1 tsp 1 parsley, for the sofrito

  • For the Guacamole Topping
  • 1 1 avocado, diced

  • 1/2 1/2 tomato, minced

  • 1/3 1/3 onion, minced

  • 3 to 4 Tbsp 3 to 4 fresh lime juice, to taste

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 salt

  • 1/4 clove 1/4 garlic, minced, for a hint of taste

  • 2 to 3 Tbsp 2 to 3 cilantro

  • 2 Tbsp 2 queso fresco

  • For the Black Bean Topping
  • 2 cups 2 black beans, canned (or 2 cups dried beans)

  • 1 cup 1 chicken stock

  • 3 Tbsp 3 white onion, minced

  • 4 Tbsp 4 olive oil

  • 1 clove 1 garlic, whole, optional

Directions

  • Make the Red Salsa Topping for All 3 Tostadas
  • Boil the 1/3 white onion, tomatoes and the optional jalapeño (if using) with the salt in water to cover for 10 minutes.
  • Drain the water and place the onion, tomato and jalapeño in blender. Pulse for 10 seconds until you get a creamy red salsa. Set aside.
  • In a saucepan on the stove, make your sofrito cooking base: sauté the 2 Tbsp of chopped fresh onion, whole garlic clove, salt, and parsley until the mixture caramelizes—3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add the blended onion-tomato blend to the caramelized onion-mix saute in the pan. Bring to a boil for 1 to 2 minutes. When the color changes, you know it’s ready. If the salsa is too watery, boil a few minutes longer, until it has the consistency of ketchup. Set aside.
  • Make the Guacamole Topping
  • Place the avocado, tomato, onion, lime juice, salt, garlic (optional) and cilantro in a bowl.
  • Mash. Set aside.
  • Make the Black Bean Topping
  • If using canned beans, rinse them in very cold water, to wash away their liquid. Drain.
  • In a large saucepan, place the olive oil, onion and garlic. When the onion is caramelized, add the beans and sauté for 2 minutes. Bring to a gentle sauté for 20 minutes. When done, skip to Step 5.
  • Alternately, if starting from scratch with dry beans, wash them well. Place the beans in a large pot with cold water to cover. Boil the beans for 1 ½ hours. 
  • In a large saucepan, place the olive oil, onion and garlic. When the onion is caramelized, add the from-scratch beans and stir. Add 1 cup of chicken stock (or 1 cup water with 1 tsp of powdered chicken stock). Bring to a slow boil, stir and let cook for 20 minutes.
  • Add 1 cup of chicken stock (or 1 cup water with 1 tsp of powdered chicken stock). Bring to a slow boil, stir and cook for 20 more minutes.
  • Mash the canned or cooked-from-scratch beans with a potato masher to a smooth consistency. Do not puree to an overly creamy smoothness. Keep the black beans a little bit clumpy for best texture and taste, says Adriana. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.
  • Make Your 3 Types of Tostadas
  • On your work surface, lay out 12 premade packaged or freshly made tostadas. (If making your own, first fry 12 tortillas in vegetable oil until crispy and set to dry on a paper-towel-lined plate.)
  • Make 4 red salsa tostadas: Spoon 3 to 4 Tbsp of the red salsa in the center of each tostada. Garnish with a generous sprinkling of chopped parsley, thinly sliced red onion rings, and shredded queso seco or queso fresco.
  • Make 4 guacamole tostadas: Spoon 3 to 4 Tbsp of the guacamole mixture in the center of each tostada. Garnish with a generous sprinkling of chopped parsley, thinly sliced red onion rings, and shredded queso seco or queso fresco. 
  • Make 4 black bean tostadas: Spoon 3 to 4 Tbsp of the black bean paste in the center of each tostada. Garnish with a generous sprinkling of chopped parsley, thinly sliced red onion rings, and shredded queso seco or queso fresco. 
  • Set out three serving platters, one for each of the tostadas—and watch them disappear while everyone waits for the tamales to boil, says Adriana.

Notes

  • Add the 1/2 jalapeño to your red salsa only if you like your salsa to be “un tantito picoso,” says Adriana—a little bit hot. Otherwise skip the chile.
  • Adriana sometimes makes her beans with 1 tsp of powdered Maggi chicken stock and 1 cup water for the beans, instead of 1 cup chicken stock. ”Maggi doesn’t have preservatives.”
  • How long you boil the tomato sauce has everything to do with your tomatoes, she adds. ”If you use Roma or heirloom, they are less watery and will take 1 minute or 2 less time than larger, more watery ones.”
  • Adriana skips making from-scratch beans part and vouches for Trader Joe’s organic, cooked, canned black beans. ”They don’t have preservatives. Oh my God, you can’t tell they are not homemade. People say to me: Did you make these black beans for the tostadas from scratch?”



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