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Tostadas pile on plant-based flavor

When you need fresh inspiration for plant-based dishes, think globally.

Latin cuisine furnished the spice palette for the previous post to this blog, featuring beans and greens with freshly made salsa and tortillas. Similarly, tostadas are tapped as a vehicle for roasted veggies in this recipe from Tribune News Service. It also features a homemade salsa.

Cooks who favor the tips in my recent food section column for preparing an entire pot of beans for easy meals, including in the great outdoors, can use a portion of those beans in this dish. Otherwise, canned pinto beans suffice.

And if you’re inclined to cutting back on more convenience foods and packaging, skip the store-bought tostada shells and make them at home, either by baking or frying corn tortillas. For baking, drizzle corn tortillas with a little oil, spread it on with your fingers and then place tortillas on a cookie sheet. Bake in a 350-degree oven until crispy and golden brown, for about 4 minutes per side.

Alternatively, fry corn tortillas in a skillet with about 1/4 inch of oil until they sizzle and turn golden brown, for about 45 seconds per side, then drain on paper towels. They should be super crispy.

Tribune News Service photo

Roasted Vegetables Tostadas

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 red bell peppers, cored and sliced

1 red onion, peeled and sliced thin

3 teaspoons chile powder, divided

Kosher salt, to taste

1 tablespoon oil

1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup minced white onion

1/2 teaspoon cumin, or more to taste

1 cup diced fresh tomato

1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced

1/4 small red onion, peeled and diced

1 garlic clove, peeled and finely diced

Juice of 1/2 lime

Chopped fresh cilantro, to taste

8 packaged tostadas

Shredded iceberg lettuce, for serving

1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco, or finely shredded Monterey jack cheese

Peeled and diced avocado, for serving (optional)

Lime crema, for serving (optional; recipe follows)

Prepare vegetables: Place the sweet potatoes, peppers and red onion in a large bowl. Season with 2 teaspoons of the chile powder and a generous pinch of the salt. Then toss with the oil.

Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and roast veggies in a preheated 450-degree oven until tender, tossing halfway through, for about 25 to 30 minutes.

While veggies are roasting, prepare beans. Combine the drained pinto beans, minced onion, cumin and remaining chile powder in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, until beans and onions soften. Mash with a fork and keep warm.

Prepare pico de gallo: In a medium bowl, combine the diced tomato, jalapeño, diced red onion, garlic, lime juice, cilantro and a generous pinch of salt. Stir to combine, adding more salt if necessary. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving so flavors can mingle.

Assemble tostadas: Spread 1 of the tostada shell with some mashed beans. Top with some of the shredded lettuce, roasted vegetables, pico de gallo, crumbled or shredded cheese, diced avocado and more chopped cilantro, if desired. Drizzle the lime crema on top, if using, and then repeat with a second layer. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

LIME CREMA: Add the juice and zest of 1 lime and a generous pinch of salt to 1 cup sour cream and whisk until well combined and creamy.