Cooking as often as I do, I go through major food phases. Sometimes I get stuck on produce, such as Brussels sprouts or sweet potatoes. Sometimes it's flavors, such as chipotle or ginger. But there are some things that I always crave, such as tamari, blue cheese and avocados. Growing up in the Midwest, where an avocado was classified as a foreign fruit, I only discovered that particular wonder later in life; now, I can't get enough of them. My favorite way to eat avocado is straight, with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, but my friends have learned the hard way that if I find the guacamole first, they might as well start making a second batch.

I love these tostadas, because they can be a labor of love or a quick meal. Given the time, I love making corn tortillas and homemade roasted salsa. Luckily, this meal tastes wonderful with store-bought corn tortillas and salsa on a busy weeknight. Use a nonchunky mild or medium traditional salsa or a nice chipotle salsa.

Black Bean Tostada with Avocado Salad

Serves 2 to 3

3 to 4 corn tortillas

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup cooked black beans

1/4 cup bean liquid or water

1/2 cup salsa

Salad:

2 cups lightly packed shredded lettuce

1 avocado, cubed

1 ounce cojita cheese, crumbled


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1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cilantro, lime wedges, to garnish

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Brush tortillas with olive oil. Place on a baking tray; bake until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.

2. In a skillet, heat the black beans, liquid and salsa until boiling. Reduce heat to low; simmer, stirring occasionally, until the majority of juice has been absorbed, 5 to 6 minutes.

3. For the salad, combine lettuce, cubed avocado and crumbled cheese in a bowl. Whisk together lime juice, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper. Pour over salad, then toss until coated.

4. Top the tortillas with a layer of black beans, then salad. Serve with extra cheese or lime wedges as desired.

Sacramento blogger Erin Alderson writes Naturally Ella (naturallyella.com), a seasonal, whole-foods and vegetarian-centric recipe site for the whole family.