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Heirloom Bean Tostadas with Crispy Avocado

By Susan Feniger, Mary Sue Milliken From Moveable Feast Season 2, Ep.4
Scott Phillips

Servings: 8

Though we call for an assortment of canned beans for convenience, Chefs Feniger and Milliken used heirloom beans, such as scarlet runner beans, to dress up this recipe with color and flavor. If you can get your hands on some dried heirlooms, use a total of 1-1/2 cups dried beans, and cook them according to the Basic Beans recipe, before substituting them for the mixed canned beans below.  For the crispy avocado, make sure to coat the avocado completely with the rice-flour batter. Leaving bare spots will create a greasy taste.


For the bean salad

  • Kosher salt
  • 3-1/2 cups (12 oz.) green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cups (10 oz.) fava beans in the shell (3 lb. in the pod)
  • 3 cups mixed canned beans, such as cannellini, pinto, and black-eyed peas
  • 3 Tbs. sherry vinegar; more as needed
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tsp. agave syrup
  • 1-1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 canned chipotles in adobo, seeded and minced (2 tsp.)
  • 4 medium scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced (1-1/2 Tbs.)
  • 1 Fresno chile, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced (1 Tbs.)

For the cilantro aïoli

  • 2 cups (3-1/2 oz.) coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

For the crispy avocado and tortillas

  • 5-1/4 oz. (1 cup) rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup red and/or white quinoa
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds
  • 1/4 cup black and/or white sesame seeds
  • 2 firm ripe Hass avocados, peeled, seeded, and cut into 8 wedges each
  • 5 to 6 cups vegetable oil
  • 8 6-inch corn tortillas, pre-fried or soft

For assembly

  • 2 cups frisée or curly mustard greens, coarsely chopped


Make the bean salad

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl.
  • Blanch the green beans in the boiling water until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, transfer them to the ice bath. When completely cooled, use the slotted spoon to transfer them to a platter lined with a kitchen towel, pat dry, and refrigerate until cold.
  • Return the water to a boil and blanch the fava beans until tender, about 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and transfer to the ice bath. Drain when the favas are completely cooled.
  • Peel the fava beans by holding onto the germ end, pinching off the opposite end and squeezing to release the bean from the skin. Transfer the beans to a bowl and refrigerate until cold.
  • Rinse and drain the mixed canned beans.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, agave, mustard, chipotles, scallions, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Add the green beans, fava beans, mixed canned beans, jalapeño, and Fresno chile and gently toss to coat. Season to taste with more salt, pepper, and vinegar.

Make the cilantro aïoli

  • Put the cilantro, lime juice, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a food processor. Pulse until the cilantro is very finely chopped and a paste begins to form. Add the mayonnaise and blend until fully combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook the crispy avocado and tortillas

  • In a medium bowl, combine 2-1/2 Tbs. of the rice flour and the cumin with 1/3 cup water, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper to make a thin batter.
  • In another medium bowl, mix the quinoa, poppy seeds, and sesame seeds. Transfer the remaining rice flour to another medium bowl and season generously with salt.
  • Working with one avocado wedge at a time, dredge in the rice flour, shaking off the excess. Then dip into the batter to coat lightly, letting the excess drip off. Finally, roll the wedge in the seed mixture, pressing gently to form and to completely coat. Transfer the wedges to a plate and refrigerate until ready to fry.
  • In a 4-quart saucepan fitted with a deep-fry thermometer, heat 2 inches of vegetable oil to 375°F. If using soft tortillas, fry one at a time until just crisp, about 1 minute, turning once with tongs. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels, lightly season with salt, and set aside.
  • In the same oil, fry the avocado wedges in small batches until the seeds are golden and crispy, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to another plate lined with paper towels to drain. Season the wedges with salt.


  • Spread a little cilantro aïoli on each fried tortilla and top with a small amount of frisée or mustard greens to create a bed. Distribute the bean salad mixture among the tostadas and top each with 2 avocado wedges and a little more of the cilantro aïoli. Serve immediately.
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