Project Weeknight: Tlayuda With Black Bean Purée

Sounds fancy, no? Believe it or not, it was easy enough to qualify for Project Weeknight.

Yesterday afternoon I was stewing over what to do for dinner. It'd been over a week since we'd had Taco Del Mom, so that was a possibility. Yeah, it's easy and much beloved, but it's getting kind of old.

I'd tried Refried Bean Soup a while back and it was very well received, but we're having freakishly warm weather here (mid-70s! Gasp!) and it just ain't soup weather.

So I delved into my Recipe Purgatory, clicked the Weeknight tag, and found this one from my culinary hero, Mark Bittman.

For some unknown reason, black beans are not one of my go-to beans. They're just not something I grab very often. This seemed like a good excuse to use some of the cans languishing in the back of the cabinet. I didn't have corn tortillas so I used the handmade whole wheat ones from the fancy-pants grocery that I usually have on hand. I even had some cabbage left from a soup experiment last weekend. Add some Monterey Jack cheese and we were good to go.

I did modify his instructions slightly: I sauteed the onion & garlic in the bottom of a small saucepan for a few minutes, then added the spices and heated then through. I drained the beans, reserving some of the liquid. Removed the pan from the heat and added the beans along with enough bean juice to keep them from sticking to the hot pan. Then I hit it with the stick blender, since I hate the thought of dirtying the food processor to puree one lousy can of beans. Presto! Black bean puree.

I'd already had the oven pre-heating. I brushed the bottom of a sheet pan (relatively new & clean) with a little oil and put it in the oven upside down to get hot. I spread the bean paste on the tortillas, sprinkled with the grated cheese, and plopped them on the hot sheet pan. And I only burned my forearm once!

I could have used the pizza stone but it seemed like a lot of time and energy to preheat that huge thing for just a few tortillas. Luckily the pre-heated cookie sheet worked great.

Per the directions, I let them bake for 5 mins., then opened the oven to mound about 1/2 cup of thinly sliced cabbage on each, avoiding a matching forearm burn. Baked for another 5 mins., pulled them out, and slid them onto a cooling rack to keep the bottoms from getting soggy while they cooled enough to slice into quarters.

The wheat tortillas crisped up fine, but next time I'd like to try corn tortillas. Or even making a few big tortillas from scratch, if I can remember to plan ahead for that.

I was a little skeptical about the cabbage, but 5 mins. @ 450 deg was indeed enough to wilt it enough to make it edible. We added a little chopped avocado and tomato and you know what? It was pretty darned tasty. My son gave it a huge thumbs up and insisted I print out the recipe for him to give to his teacher.

Can there be any greater praise than that?

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