Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Vegan Tortas

Don't let this unassuming Mexican sandwich fool you. Rustic in appearance, a closer look reveals a splash of color reminiscent of those found in a lovely authentic cantina. Take a bite, and the flavor is hearty and complex. The crispy bread embraces the burrito ingredients of your choosing. Our selection? Soyrizo-studded refried beans, citrusy avocado spread, nopalitos, purple cabbage, and sliced Roma tomatoes.

It's easy to make your own Mexican torta. You want bread that has a crispy exterior. I used ciabatta, so maybe I should call this fusion torta? Anyway, slice the bread and remove a little of the soft interior, to create room to nestle all your awesome ingredients. If you have a favorite brand of canned refried beans, feel free to use the ready-made variety. But you really want to use delicious stuffings to raise your torta from "eh" to "exceptional".

Vegan Tortas
4 servings

Refried Beans:
1 Tablespoon oil
4 ounces soyrizo
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons Maggi seasoning sauce, divided
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup vegetable broth
salt to taste
hot sauce to taste

Avocado Spread:
1 avocado
lime juice to taste, from approximately 1/2 lime
cilantro, chopped
hot sauce

Other fixin's:
purple cabbage, sliced
Roma tomato, sliced
nopalitos, rinsed and drained

Crusty bread rolls or subs

To make the refried beans, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion and soyrizo about 5 minutes, until soyrizo begins to brown and onion softens. Add cumin and 1 teaspoon Maggi sauce. Stir for a minute or so. Then add about 1/3 of the beans, 1/3 of the broth, and salt to taste. Mash the beans with a potato masher or back of a spoon and cook until broth is absorbed, about 7 minutes. Add 1/2 of the remaining beans and 1/2 of the remaining broth. Repeat mashing and cooking until broth is absorbed. Add remaining beans and broth, but don't mash beans so you have a chunkier texture. Simmer until broth is absorbed. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon Maggi sauce and hot sauce to taste. Check for seasoning.

Prepare the avocado spread by placing avocado, chopped cilantro, hot sauce, salt, and lime juice in a bowl. Coarsely mash with a fork. Proportions are up to your tastebuds!

Slice your bread and remove some of the soft interior to make room for the stuffings. For each sandwich, spread some refried beans on a slice of bread, then top with purple cabbage, nopalitos, Roma slices, and avocado spread. Top with another slice of bread and enjoy.


  1. are nopalitos pickled cactus?

    these look good!

  2. mmmmm! looks like the best sandwich ever.

  3. "Remove a little of the soft interior"... is that how they make ciabatta sandwiches so delicious?! How come I never thought of that before? :) If I made these, I would make sure my ratio of fresh greens to refried beans and avocado spread be quite high - I'm a sucker for biting into crisp greens, complimented, not overwhelmed by, tasty spreads.

  4. Refried beans on a sandwich? That sounds awesome!

  5. Nopalitos...something new and different to try. Ciabatta is so good. I love using it for Cuban sammies, too! Nice work :)

  6. Lisa!!!! You're making me so homesick. I swear, this is one of my favourite type of sammies - and the ciabatta? Pure genius.
    You're one of my culinary heros!

  7. That's what Mexicans call torta? When I read your post I thought chocolate, cream, maybe some chili. Ha, I have no idea about Mexican food.
    I had to laugh when I saw that you used Maggi. When I grew up I saw that on so many tables that I sometimes thought people didn't know that there were actually real spices.

  8. i've never heard of tortas! they look amazing, Lisa - and they sound so awesome, too! mmmmmmmm! sign me up for all the yumminess! yay!

  9. They look delicious! My favorite Mexican takeout joint uses a shredded purple cabbage salad on their tofu tacos. SO good!

  10. What a great idea!

    That looks muy delicioso :)

  11. Now that is what I call a sandwich! I wish that was my lunch today!

  12. I want to reach through the screen and grab that right now! It looks amazing!!!

  13. yum! My husband says soyrizo tastes just like what he grew up eatin.

  14. I've never thought to put soyrizo in my refried beans! That is total genius, I'm going to have to try it.

  15. I like the idea of burrito ingredients in a sandwich. I've never tried nopalitos, and love the combo of avocado and red cabbage - they look great together too!

  16. Great idea- the ciabiatta, soyrizo in the beans. my first job in high school was in a small taqueria in west michigan, and I remember the bags of torta rolls coming in from the Grand Rapids specialty Mexican bakery. ciabiatta is very close! also, when we would make them, we'd put a little mayo on both pieces of bread, assuming they did that to soften them up. mmm, hungry-makin'.

  17. Oh my goodness Lisa, this sounds so flippin' awesome. Next time I am in St. Louis visiting my dad, I might have to "be in the neighborhood" around dinner time. :-)

    All your Mexican food looks so good. I haven't found nopalitos, but I think I could still make something work.

  18. What an awesome looking sandwich! and great use of soyrizo - I love that stuff!. :-)

  19. I meant to comment on this beautiful sandwich quite some time ago. It looks amazing.

  20. Wow. These tortas look awesome. I still need to try nopalitos.

  21. Hi! I would like to try this recipe.

    Where did you find the soyrizo and Maggi seasoning sauce?

  22. Rebecca, the soyrizo is Frieda's brand. It was at a local grocery store, Schnucks, or you could probably find it at a store like Whole Foods. I bought the Maggi at a Latin food market. If you can't find it you can sub soy sauce or maybe just a little more salt.


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