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Sunday, November 28, 2021

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Easy Mix and Match Tostada Bar!

I’m obsessed with making meals that involve much more DYI spreads rather than traditional plated meals. I find they are consistently the most efficient way to ease the monotony of daily cooking, provide lots of options for diverse eaters within the family, and make things easier on the home cook. Plus, they are downright fun! Many folks already partake in Taco Tuesdays or perhaps a “burger bar” spread at the grill, but you can incorporate this type of eating into your weekly meal planning routine and riff on these ideas endlessly.

One of our family favorites in line with this DYI concept is mix and match tostadas. You may be familiar with the deep-fried restaurant version of a tostada, which is essentially a flat-fried tortilla, but at home, you can save the mess and calories by opting for a package of store-bought crispy tostada shells. Then, you can riff on a taco night by using lots of different Tex-Mex proteins and toppings to create sort of an “open-face taco” and layering it however you wish.

Tostada nights work well for my family because I can provide different proteins for the different dietary preferences within the household. I’ll often prepare some pulled chicken in the slow cooker earlier in the day, mix it with enchilada sauce and then also toss extra sauce with some jackfruit for my vegetarian husband. Black or refried beans also work as a great protein here. Mutual toppings like guacamole, cheeses, and veggies finish off the create-your-own tostadas and everybody walks away satisfied. And, of course, tostadas and their fixin’s make great leftovers! If you’re new to using tostadas, here are some ideas to help you mix and match your way to a fun alternative to Taco Night!

Protein Bases:

  • refried beans
  • black, red or pinto beans
  • ground beef browned with taco seasoning
  • rotisserie chicken
  • slow-cooked chicken with enchilada or taco sauce
  • “pulled” jackfruit
  • pulled pork
  • fried or flaked fish or grilled shrimp

Veggies:

  • guacamole or diced avocado
  • pico de gallo or chopped tomato
  • roasted or grilled corn
  • sliced jalapenos
  • chopped onions and/or peppers
  • shredded lettuce
  • sliced radish
  • pickled red onions
  • lime slices, for squeezing

Cheeses:

  • crumbled Cotija or queso fresco
  • cheddar
  • Mexican blend
  • Monterey or pepper jack
  • Colby jack

Sauces and Drizzles:

  • sour cream
  • taco sauce or salsa
  • salsa verde
  • Mexican crema
  • chipotle mayo
Debra Caffrey
Debra Caffrey is the writer/editor of the Education and Infant & Pregnancy e-newsletters for Fredericksburg Parent and Family. She also writes the monthly Practical Pantry column, sharing her recipes and tips on being a home cook, grocery shopping, and smart meal planning. Debra is the proud mother of an almost-teenage son. When she's not writing, cooking, or parenting, Debra enjoys working out, yoga, running, hiking, traveling, and reading.

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