Crispy shells overloaded with beans, slaw, and pineapple –what a delicious meal! These vegan and gluten free tostadas are built from sweet, spicy, and smoky layers creating a tasty, yet messy, tower!Jump to Recipe
When I was a kid, tostadas were one of my favorite foods. The smell of frying tortillas filled the house, as my dad lined up freshly cooked tortillas, still dripping with oil, next to the stove. Then we would coat them with refried beans and load them up with toppings, just to have it shatter in bits halfway through eating it. And for some reason my dad insisted that it was normal to top tostadas with Russian dressing. No idea where that one came from. It is pretty good though.
These tostadas were inspired by the tostadas I had so often as a kid, but with my own slightly healthier spin on things. The sweetness we loved from the Russian dressing comes from grilled fresh pineapple, and the smokiness that I remember from grilled meat comes from addition of liquid smoke in the beans. I usually grill my tostada tortillas until they are crispy, but you are welcome to deep fry them. I applaud your commitment.
But these tostadas do not begin with the tortillas, but with the beans. A good pot of beans is such a wonderful thing. So often they are not cooked all the way, under seasoned, or forgotten about, which is so sad because they can be freaking delicious.
Smoky Refried Beans
You can use a couple cans of refried beans, but I highly recommend you make your own. I love my smoky refried black beans, and they do not take too much extra time to make. Especially if you start with canned black beans instead of dry.
To make the refried beans, you will need 5 cups/3 cans of cooked black beans for this dish, but you can also use pinto, cranberry, or kidney beans if that is what you prefer. In a medium or large pot, begin heating ¼ cup neutral oil over medium heat. Chop ½ of one yellow and ½ of one red onion and add them both to the pot. Add 4 cloves of garlic – you do not need to chop them; they’ll be blended in later. Saute until the onions are browning.
Now it is time to add the beans. Today, I used canned black beans to save time. I have also tried this recipe with pinto beans and cranberry beans, and the cranberry were my favorite! But I buy canned black beans in bulk from Costco and there is a freaking pandemic, so I am not going out of my way to buy some cranberry beans. Plus, black beans create a beautiful dark purple pot of refried beans.
Give those a stir, and then add ¼ tsp of liquid smoke (be careful, this stuff is potent!) and ½ tsp of gluten free soy sauce or liquid aminos. Once the beans are soft and warm, it is time to blend. You can use a blender, food processor, or potato masher, but I used an immersion blender. I’m a sucker for tools that reduce my washing up time, as I have no dishwasher.
Dice one (seedless) jalapeno and mix that in, along with ½ tsp kosher salt. I needed to add a total of 1 tsp of kosher salt to my beans, but you might need to add more depending on if your beans were salted and what kind of soy sauce you used. I would start with ½ tsp of kosher salt and then add more to taste.
Now that your beans are done, let’s move on the other toppings. To top off these tostadas, I made a simple slaw, but you can also top them with avocado, cashew sour cream, iceberg lettuce, or salsa. To make the slaw, combine ¼ head of finely chopped green cabbage, ¼ head finely chopped red cabbage, ½ of a thinly sliced red onion, ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro, 2 tbs apple cider vinegar, 1 tbs brown sugar, a large pinch of salt, and the juice of one lime in a large bowl. If you’re feeling spicy you can add a nice splash of your favorite hot sauce. Using your hand, massage and squeeze the cabbage until the sauce is fully mixed and the cabbage has softened a bit – this takes about 3-5 minutes.
Sweet and Smoky Grilled Pineapple
Next topping: pineapple. I think this is quite a bit tastier with fresh pineapple, but canned will work as well. Don’t let pineapple season get in the way of you enjoying a sweet tostada. It is easier to grill pineapple in large chunks, such as the rings or spears, so don’t bother if you have tiny chunks. If you are starting with a pineapple, but it into long skinny spears, which will be easier to move around with tongs and less likely to fall into the cracks.
Lightly coat your pineapple spears in neutral oil, and then grill on both sides for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. They are HOT right off the grill, but once they cool for a few minutes, they will be perfectly caramelly. If you do not have a grill, or you are making this on a rainy day, you can fry the pineapple in a little bit of neutral oil over medium high heat on the stove.
Since you went through the effort of grilling that pineapple, we might as well grill the tostadas. Fried tostadas are nice, but they are so oily and sit heavy in my stomach. Lightly brush each side of each tortilla with a bit of neutral oil so they don’t stick. Grill the tortillas for 30-45 seconds per side, until they are crunchy like a chip. Alternatively you can toast these in the toaster oven or regular oven at 400 degrees but watch them closely because the will catch on fire and ruin your evening. It will take about 10 minutes.
Now comes the layering. I like to dollop on a healthy a spoonful of beans, cover that with slaw, and then top with chopped grilled pineapple and cilantro. The best tostada, in my opinion, is one with such thick layers that you can barely see the tortilla at the bottom. You’ll probably need a fork.
Smoky Pineapple Toastadas
- 5 cups cooked, drained black beans about 3 cans
- ½ red onion, chopped
- ½ yellow or sweet onion, chopped
- ¼ cup neutral oil
- 4 cloves garlic, whole
- ¼ tsp liquid smoke
- ½ tsp gluten free soy sauce or liquid aminos
- ½ tsp kosher salt plus more to taste – I needed 1 tsp
- 1 jalapeno, deseeded and chopped
- ¼ green cabbage, shredded or finely chopped
- ¼ red cabbage, shredded or finely chopped
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- 2 tbs apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbs brown sugar or other sugar
- 1 large pinch kosher salt
- juice from one lime
- 1 tsp your favorite hot sauce optional
- 8 gluten free corn tortillas
- ½ pineapple, cut into spears or rings
- neutral oil, for grilling
- extra chopped cilantro, for serving
- extra lime wedges, for serving
- Heat the neutral oil in a medium sized pot over medium heat.
- Add the chopped red and yellow onions and the whole garlic cloves to the pot and saute until they begin to brown.
- Add beans, liquid smoke, and soy sauce and continuing heating until beans are soft and hot.
- Using an immersion blender (or standing blender or potato masher) blend the beans until smooth.
- Stir in the diced jalapeno and 1 tsp salt, or salt to taste.
- Finely chop the red and green cabbage and cilantro and mix into a large bowl.
- Thinly slice ½ of a red onion into half circles and add to the bowl.
- Add 2 tbs apple cider vinegar, 1 tbs brown sugar, a large pinch of salt, and the juice from one lime to the bowl. Use your hand to mix and massage the cabbage for 3-5 min.
- Optionally add in 1 tsp of your favorite hot sauce.
Grilled Pineapple and Tortillas
- Fire up your grill!
- Lightly brush your pineapple spears or rounds and the tortillas with neutral oil to prevent them from sticking.
- Grill the pineapple for about 10 min on each side, until the outside is caramel-y brown. Let them cool a bit and then chop them up so you can evenly spread them over your tostadas.
- Grill the tortillas for 30-45 seconds per side, until they are crunchy.
- Spread a thick layer of refried beans over the crispy shells
- Layer with slaw, chopped pineapple, extra cilantro, and extra lime juice.