In a Mexican kitchen, nothing goes to waste. Yesterday’s tortillas can be fried to add to soups or make chilaquiles, or toasted until crunchy and served with delicious toppings as they are here. They are incredibly easy to make, look great and are so convenient to serve and eat as party food.






Skill level

Average: 4.1 (75 votes)


  • 12 tostadas (see Note)
  • 500 g shredded chicken
  • ½ head iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 2 cups grated carrot
  • 200 g shredded quesillo (see Note)
  • 150 ml crème fraiche
  • 3 avocados, peeled and sliced

Black bean paste

  • 125 ml (½ cup) vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup plantain, sliced
  • 2 cups cooked black turtle beans
  • 2 tbsp chopped white onion
  • salt, to taste

Arbol salsa

  • 6–10 arbol chillies (see Note)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ tsp salt

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


To prepare the black bean paste, heat the vegetable oil in a 25 cm frying pan over medium. Add the plantain and cook for 4 minutes or until golden all over. Remove and place in a blender. Add the cooked black beans and enough water to cover. Blend until very fine.

Reheat oil over medium and add the onion. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until starting to darken. Add the black bean paste and salt, then cook gently for 5 minutes to allow the flavours to develop. Reserve.

To prepare the salsa, wipe chillies clean. Heat oil in a frying pan and cook the chillies for 10–20 seconds or until lightly fragrant and darkened slightly. Place tomatoes in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil. Cook for 4–5 minutes until tomatoes are soft, then remove from the heat. Place the chillies in a blender and add tomato, garlic and salt. Add enough of the tomato cooking water as needed to cover the chillies. Blend until smooth, then place in a bowl.

Assemble the tostadas by smearing black bean paste over the bases, then top with layers of chicken, lettuce, carrot and cheese. Garnish with a drizzle of crème fraiche and few small slices of avocado then serve, offering the salsa on the table for each person to add to taste.


• Arbol chillies and tostadas are available from speciality food stores and Mexican grocers.
• If quesillo is unavailable, buffalo mozzerella will make a good substitute.