They say you learn something new every day.

Well.  That sounds promising for those of us who have to learn all of medicine in two weeks.


Instead of learning the many and varied side effects of anti-epileptics ((k) all of the above).  (Yes, sometimes the answer choices go to “k”.)

Instead of figuring out which hole in your skull each and every cranial nerve comes out of (play odds – superior orbital fissure).

Instead of being a productive member of the medical profession in any way shape or form.


You have spent the majority of your week trying to learn how to eat a tostada.

Really.  It’s baffling.

Now, I’m not even going to begin to pretend that these are real tostadas.  They have a floppy and not a crispy shell, which is probably a large part of the problem.  (And if you were still buried beneath 100 million thousand of the best tortillas you’ve ever had then you wouldn’t go out and buy tostada shells either.)



Do you pick it up and eat it like a pizza?  Or cut it with a knife and fork (please say it’s not this one because I really hate eating with a knife and fork)?  Or roll it up into a pseudo burrito?


Or do what I did, which was spoon the topping into my mouth as quick as humanly possible and then roll the tortilla up into a cylinder and gobble that down with reckless abandon?

That can’t be the right way to do it.  With all the fillings dripping down your cheeks and all.

Can it?

I need your professional opinions people!


This recipe and I go back.  Way back.  To January of 2011.

When I opened up my issue of that month’s Bon Appetit. Exclaimed, “YUM!” really loudly to anyone who would listen (i.e. my index card collection).  And then promptly forgot all about it.

(It was quite untactful of me.)

But I guess I didn’t really forget because when I was trying to figure out what to do with some of those tortillas that are taking up precious real estate in my fridge, it immediately sprang into my head.  Long term memory at it’s finest.

I take this as a good sign that even though I think I’m forgetting everything I shoved into my brain last week, it must be there.  Somewhere.  Right?

Anyway.  I really loved this combination of flavors and ingredients.  The coriander seeds give the tofu (or chicken, which the original recipe called for) a nice citrusy edge, which goes perfectly with the almost buttery fennel and spicy refried beans.  With some queso on top, of course. Just because that always seems like the right thing to do.


Coriander Tofu Tostadas with Refried Beans and “Grilled” Fennel
Makes 4, adapted from Bon Appetit January 2011

1 1/2 cups dried pinto beans, soaked overnight or 2 (15 oz) cans
1 chopped white onion
2 tbsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 chipotle chiles en adobo
1 tsp ground cumin
veggie broth or cooking water from the beans/liquid from the can
coarse kosher salt

Fennel and Tofu (or Chicken):
1 large fresh fennel bulb, trimmed and cut through the core into 1/3 inch thick slices
1 tbsp olive oil
1 block extra-firm tofu, as much liquid squeezed out as possible and cut into strips (or 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves)
1/3 cup coriander seeds (about 1 oz), coarsely crushed in a plastic bag
4 tortillas
3 cups thinly sliced lettuce
6 radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced
4 oz queso fresco
Fresh cilantro

1. If using dried beans, then boil them in salted water until soft, about 45 minutes.  Drain them, reserving some of the liquid (about 1/2 cup).  Don’t be like me and forget.

2. Place the beans and the onion, oregano, garlic, chipotles, and cumin in a food processor.  Blend to a chunky puree, adding just enough of the bean water or veggie broth so that it comes together.

3. Spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray  and add the bean mixture. Stir over medium-low heat, adding more bean liquid/broth if dry, about 5 minutes.  Season with kosher salt and black pepper.  Remove from heat and set aside.

4. Preheat the oven to 450.  Spray tofu strips with cooking spray or brush with olive oil.  Season with salt, pepper, and crushed coriander seeds.  Place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes, flipping them over halfway through.

5. In the meanwhile, saute fennel slices in the olive oil until lightly browned and crisp-tender.  Season with salt and pepper.

6. If using uncooked tortillas like I was, then cook your tortillas according to package directions.  Top each tortilla with a layer of the refried beans, lettuce, radishes, fennel, tofu, queso fresco and cilantro.

I am submitting this to My Legume Love Affair, which is being hosted by Smitha of Kannada Cuisine.

You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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85 Responses to Coriander Tofu (or Chicken) Tostadas with Refried Beans and "Grilled" Fennel

  1. Your photos are absolutely amazing. It looks so delicious and I totally love the red dish!

  2. bellini says:

    Break out the grill Joanne. I loved grilled fennel!!!

  3. Little Inbox says:

    This vegetarian dish looks appealing.

  4. There’s a lot of filling for the tostada to roll and hold comfortably. I would use fork and knive but I suppose this is not what you want to hear.

  5. Simply Life says:

    wow! this is so creative! they look great!

  6. Wonderful! I think the way you ate it sounds just fine! Just as long as it all gets in the belly!

  7. Kim says:

    Be still my heart… They look great! I too am unsure of how to eat a tostada, but who really cares?! I’ll just shovel this in and be happy and filled. 🙂

  8. Faith says:

    Lol, you’re right, queso on top does always seem like the right thing to do! This looks great…I know I’d make a huge mess eating it, but it would be so worth it! 😉

  9. LOL! I have always wondered how to eat a tostada too! So I got no good instructions for you- just trying to gleam some ideas off of you! LOL! These look amazing Joanne! Amazing!

  10. OohLookBel says:

    I don’t see why we should clog our brains with uninteresting and/or useless information. Hence, out with all that medical mumbo-jumbo and IN with tostadas! Wrapped up tofu should be mandatory brain food for everyone.

  11. Joanne says:

    I’m not big on bread-y things, so I think what I’d probably do is slide the shell out, and then just dig in with knife and fork. Kind of salad-like. And love it 🙂

  12. Great use of your tortilla collection! I’m pretty sure I’d end up with sauce dripping down my face so I think that works.

  13. janet says:

    OMG. Love it! 1/3 cup coriander seeds? Yowzas! I have never eaten tostadas, so I cannot offer you any help. But any way which ends up in my mouth, the messier the better. 🙂

  14. Johanna GGG says:

    great question – now why isn’t that in any exam – it is surely an important life skill! don’t know the answer and don’t think I have ever had a tostado but it looks great

    funny about how we have all these systems to bookmark favourite recipes/sites etc and yet I find I can make my way around the stuff that is really important in my memory without all those props – though there is a lot of stuff I forget that I wish I retained

  15. Candace says:

    Omygosh, Joanne! You have my mouth watering over here. I’m pretending that tofu is chicken though. It certainly looks like it. I eat my tostadas or whatever you want to call them any way that I can get them into my mouth. Rolled, bended, biting into it flat and having everything fall apart and crash down into my plate whereby I scoop it up with a corn chip or a fork…whatever….just eat it. It’s fabulous. That last photo sealed the deal for me. I’ll be making this one. oh yeah.

  16. Veronica says:

    Dude, there is no right way to eat a tostada. No matter what, it’s going to be messy! If it’s a crispy shell, I just pick it up and eat it like a pizza, but I put so many toppings that my entire face is smeared with beans and dotted with cheese and lettuce by the time I’m done. My Mom used to make them with a soft tortilla and those we would cut up and eat with a fork, but it was somehow just as messy. The fact that we have so much trouble with them and are still eating them is a testament to their deliciousness, and this one looks totally worth the mess!

  17. daphne says:

    oh i am hungry! I love tofu so always enjoy a good idea. First time seeing it with refried beans!

  18. I’m actually under the category of using a knife and fork to eat things. It’s because I have a strange aversion to getting my hands dirty ie shellfish, Mexican food that isn’t in a neat paper wrapper, etc. Funny how I’m becoming an ob/gyn isn’t it? Anyhoodle, these look positively delicious and I’d thoroughly enjoy sticking a fork in them!

  19. brandi says:

    your pictures and recipes KILL me. Everything always looks incredible.

  20. I’d just dig in and use my hands. So it’s not date food, it looks delicious though! The fennel got me. Looks amazing!

  21. Amy says:

    I’m sitting here trying to think how I would eat it. And you know what? I guess I really don’t eat tostadas. I always make tacos. Probably for the very conundrum that you faced. Although I do eat a lot of flat bread creations, but that always involves melted cheese, which guarantees nothing falls off. I probably would have rolled it. But then doesn’t it become a burrito at that point? Hm. 8th wonder of the world. Regardless, I love the ingredients. And the photos are booootiful.

  22. Adding grilled fennel to this is inspired, dear Joanne!! I love your recipes so much. 🙂

  23. Kristin says:

    Joanne, this looks good. I would have pick it up and tried to eat it like a taco. HaHa.

  24. Tammy says:

    Wow, Joanne this looks so good!!! I would love to wrap that tortilla and take a big bite!! 🙂
    Love all the ingredients…I appreciate anything that’s fresh, healthy, and delicious!


  25. That Girl says:

    Yeah, see here’s the thing, since you might one day be prescribing epileptic medication to someone I know or love, I think that might be more useful information than how to eat a tostada. ;-p

  26. Megan says:

    I would probably use a fork and knife, but don’t listen to me because I’ve also been known to eat a sandwich with a fork and knife.

  27. sra says:

    Roll it up, like a pseudo burrito. But I’d probably just eat the filling and leave the tostada!

  28. Tasha says:

    I’d say any method that does the job of getting such deliciousness to your tastebuds is an acceptable one. Love that you used tofu here!

  29. BigAppleNosh says:

    Yum – I love coriander/cilantro!

  30. I have GOT to stop reading your blog. My dinner plans have changed once again!


  31. Maria says:

    I can’t wait to give this recipe a go Joanne. It sounds just like something I would really adore!

  32. The messiest way to eat something is ALWAYS the right way. Food tastes better that way.

    Although I’m sure this didn’t need any help in the taste department… sounds delicious!

  33. Shannon says:

    wow, what a unique recipe! and i want some of those amazing tortillas…. pretty please?

  34. sweetlife says:

    taco style..for sure!! tofu and fennel..great combo!! loving the pics!

    what day of the week are featured on marcus? loved the first recipe!

  35. Swathi says:

    My professor used to eat burgers with fork and knife.I haven’t tried anything with green fennel, I need to now. Re fried beans looks awesome with all other ingredients.

  36. Ah, grilled fennel sounds fabulous in this. Very creative.

  37. I am a finger & thumb person totally except when eating out.People who eat pizza with fork and knife irritate me.Anyhow, this looks AMAZING!! I love fennel, your post reminds me that I havent had it in a while, gotta get it soon & grill it.I wish I were your roommate,I wanna eat last few dishes that you ve made!

  38. Pam says:

    If the shell is floppy I eat them with a fork and a knife. I love the combination of flavors on this tostada!

  39. Wonderful flavours and very creative.

  40. I love eating them with my fingers unless the tortilla starts to fall apart. I’ll pass on the cilantro and tofu but the beans, chicken and fennel sounds delicious!

  41. This recipe looks wonderful in spite of its messiness. Thanks for sharing.

  42. Catherine says:

    Dear Joanne, I love the sound of this. I usually fold it and eat. There definitely is no need for a fork. Blessings, Catherine xoxo

  43. Yum! I’d go a mixture between said burrito style eating and taco. There’s a lot of filling in that baby so soft taco folding may be the go?

  44. Raina says:

    I would say anyway you eat this would be the right It sounds wonderful, really different, great use of those tortillas:)

  45. Hannah says:

    Well. Your school work sounds terrifying. I’ll try not to complain about my photography finals again… Best of luck! The good news is, the end is in sight!

  46. Reeni says:

    Grilled fennel – I need that in my life! Along with this tostada of course! With chicken, only cause my family won’t eat tofu – I love it!

  47. mmm im digging this tofu + beans combo…. mexican remixxxxx

    (going tomorrow which means ill be in a kitchen which means i can ACTUALLY MAKE YOUR RECIPES which make me swoon)

  48. tigerfish says:

    I can’t figure how I will eat that at this time. When the time comes, I will do the “brain work” then. I like the coriander “impregnated” in the tofu :p

  49. Natalie says:

    i know i say this all the time but your recipes amaze me! seriously you are my food blogger inspiration 🙂

  50. sofia says:

    love your tostada-eating description. being the mexican-obsessed foodie that i am, these look fabulous. i want one (or three) now.

  51. jacqui says:

    I will be making these soon, looks so good!

  52. sophia says:

    That looks absolutely gorgeous, Joanne! It actually looks more like a salad plate. I’m loving the vibrancy of the dish.

    Btw, let it all drip, baby. That’s the way to enjoy your meal. All licking fingers and dribbling chins!! 🙂

  53. Deborah says:

    I say there is no wrong way to eat this tostada!

  54. yasmeen says:

    as a newly converted fennel liker (not quite a lover yet but i’m getting there), i’m happy to see this recipe! looks fab, as usual.

    love that plate, too. nothing like bright colors to spice up any dish, right?

  55. First of all i love ur red plate, cute and nice and ur pics are so well clicked , the right amount of lite ,no over or under exposure and more.
    Its so wonderfully good!
    Every time i come here(ok many a times) , whatever u post has some connection to whats happening in my kitchen at that moment ,like we had some indian flat bread made for breakfast and they would make the most wonderful base for this amzing combi u have here.
    I can see it with some nice shrimps galore .
    Bookmarked with anticipation.

  56. See… I am all about using my hands if it’s an effective way of eating something (which appears to be the case with these tostadas).

    Love the flavors here… just wish E liked cilantro as much as I did. I could try it with parsley, but I know it wouldn’t be the same.

  57. I think you just stick your face in it and chew. ha!

  58. Ada says:

    Ok, so part of me is selfishly really happy that you decided to eat a mostly plant and fish based diet because all of these recipes sound absolutely amazing! My list of “Joanne Recipes that I must make ASAP” is growing longer each day. Now that school is over I can actually make some of them!

    Man, I don’t envy you for having to study for the boards. I know you are going to totally rock them though! Good luck with your studying and we will definitely celebrate once you are done:)

  59. I have yet to warm up to tofu but I am sure this tostada would be the ticket!

  60. Peggy says:

    This was on my to-do list too! I think you’ve convinced me to bust out my January Bon Appetit again! =)

  61. Nicole, RD says:

    Have you shared what field of medicine you’re going into? I was at a conference yesterday through the NKF and they said that 23% of nephrologists are 60 and over and half are projected to retired in the next 10 years. Insane. Nephrology needs someone who loves nutrition and is 1) female and 2) awesome. Of course, I wouldn’t go into nephrologys (I may be biased, but they are so non-compliant), but I thought I’d throw it out there. You seem to have the sass and right approach to whip’em into shape! 🙂

    Anyways. I am adding this to ths list of things to make. Maybe this weekend since I get growled at sometimes about my tofu dinners, and he is out for town 🙂

  62. It’s easy to get distracted when food is involved! Can you leave out the fennel? I’m just not a fan of the licorice taste!

  63. I recently discovered fennel and I love using and eating it now.
    these photos are very gorgeous and this recipe looks so delicious, that I have to try it
    Thanks for sharing Joanne

  64. Mary says:

    Most excelllent! You can count me in the next time you make these. They look better than delicious and I love fennel. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary.

  65. Danielle says:

    I love messy food! The beans sound amazing alone – I love the flavors.

  66. I have no insight into how to eat a tostada, much less how to do it gracefully. However, if you send me one of your tostadas, I’ll do some careful testing and get back to you on it.

  67. Beth says:

    You didn’t forget about it at all. You just stored it in the dormant part of your memory until you needed it. (Feel free to use that fact on your medical exams. Actually, maybe not.)

  68. Miriam says:

    You’ve just pot yumminess on top of yumminess here :), Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  69. LOVING this. I’m a huge fennel fan!

  70. Victoria says:

    So funny, last night on Top Chef Masters one of the chefs made a vegan tostada! Great minds think alike 🙂 Though I’m not much of a tofu lover, I am a Joanne lover and a Mexican food lover, and I would LOVE this I’m absolutely sure. Hope your practice test went well! I hope to see you soon!

  71. These tostadas look scrumptious, love the coriander seeds here, such nice flavors. And I like the addition of radishes here too.

  72. Carolyn Jung says:

    I think you should just go for it and dig in. A tostada that looks that yummy is worth getting messy over. 😉

  73. I am no expert–depending on the sturdiness of the shell I either pick it up and eat it or fold it. A knife and fork is no fun.;-) These look fabulous–I love all the different flavors and the fennel especially makes me happy. 😉

  74. Chris says:

    Tostadas are the open faced sandwich of the tortilla world and I love ’em. I do prefer mine crispy though, like you mentioned. Usually I just grill them to do that because I don’t like messing with all of that oil.

  75. Kerstin says:

    I always attempt to cut mine, so I’m interested to read everyone’s responses! What a yummy way to pump up tofu!

  76. Nicole, RD says:

    I had to let you know that I just made (and inhaled) these. Uh-mazing. Best meal I’ve made in a long while! I used cabbage instead of lettuce – it’s all I had on hand, and I used ground coriander instead of grinding my own. Other than that…spot on. Ahh…I am in love 🙂

  77. Claudie says:

    I’m usually not a tofu fan, but those tofu strips look pretty good, it’s making me reconsider 😀

  78. I’m all for spooning and then biting off a tortilla roll. Your posts always make me reconsider the finer points of a vegetarian lifestyle…..which is quite a feat…

    Great post and thanks for sharing at the hearth and soul hop last week.

  79. Dana says:

    I am on an extremely temporary cooking and baking moratorium after baking all weekend for a breakfast for 55 this morning. But now I really want this for dinner. NOW. What a great combo. Also, I have no idea how to eat a tostada. I’m thinking enough margaritas and no one really cares.


    The way we eat a tostada here in San Diego is to break off pieces using your hands, haha. You don’t really need to knife or fork because the tortilla should be crisp enough to stay together while you scarf the whole thing down. Then you use chips to pick up all the bits that fell off. Maybe this is why we’re all obese, who knows.

  81. I’ve been meaning to try fennel and of course love tofu and wraps, so this is perfect!

  82. You are taking The Test RIGHT NOW and I know you are owning it. All of your hard work and perfectionism is definitely taking over and trumping all of your nerves. Dont even worry about it! Just think of how soon you will be in CALIIII!
    My schedule this week is rather hectic in the day but open at night. Except I wont be in Davis Friday morning to Sunday evening. I really want to try and work something out so let me know your schedule!

  83. Tostadas are indeed tricky to eat! I would’ve brushed both sides of the tortilla with oil and baked them to crisp them up, then put the toppings on. I love how there are crushed coriander seeds squashed into the tofu.

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