Photos by Emily Caruso
Let’s celebrate the day after Cinco de Mayo with some Mexican food, shall we? I’m up for any excuse to eat Mexican food, so I’ll just take Cinco de Mayo as a big old catalyst for a Mexican food kick…or maybe I’ll just admit that I’ve been on a nonstop Mexican food kick for most of my life. One thing I don’t generally consider, as I constantly daydream about Mexican food, is sandwiches. I lived in southern California for six years, and I ate a lot of Mexican food in that time. I never once ate a Mexican sandwich. Turns out I was missing out. Big time.
It makes perfect sense when you think about all the delicious stuff that goes into vegetarian Mexican food: beans, veggies, avocados, and lots of spicy goodness. Folks, these things belong on a sandwich. So that’s where I put them.
In case the idea of a Mexican sandwich is new to you, as it was to me, let me introduce you to the torta. The only real requirement is the type of bread, which would be a bolillo or telera roll, both of which you can basically think of as mini versions of a crusty French baguette. With that in mind, you can sub a French baguette if you can’t find a bolillo or telera roll (so I guess that’s not really a requirement at all).
If you were to pick up a torta on the streets of Mexico City, you’d probably get your roll stuffed with grilled meat and cheese. But since I’ve already declared that there are no real requirements for a torta, I went and stuffed mine with roasted poblano peppers and panko crusted avocado. If you’ve never tried crispy baked avocado before, prepare to be amazed. The panko coating gives it an outer texture reminiscent of eggplant parm, but inside is pure creamy avocado deliciousness. The poblano adds a savory element and some roasty toasty Mexican flavor. Instead of slathering the bread with mayo or the like, I went and created an extra flavorful spread out of black beans and Mexican spices, which conveniently whips up in all of five minutes while your avocado and poblano bake away.
Crispy panko coated avocado slices, roasted poblano peppers, and spicy black bean spread are all stuffed into crusty sandwich rolls in these hearty vegan Mexican tortas.
- 1/2 cup unflavored soy or almond milk
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, or to taste)
- 2 ripe avocados, sliced into 1/2 inch thick strips
- 2 poblano peppers, seeded and quartered
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 (14-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained (or 1 3/4 cups cooked)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 bolillo or telera rolls, or 1 French baguette cut into 4 sections, sliced open
- 4 large green leaf lettuce leaves
- Whisk the soy or almond milk, cornstarch and ground flaxseed together in a small bowl. Let the mixture sit for at least 10 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Stir the panko breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and cayenne together in a small bowl.
- Dip an avocado strip into the flax mixture, gently turning to coat all sides. Transfer the avocado strip to the panko mixture. Gently turn the avocado to adhere the panko mixture to each side. Place the avocado strip onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining avocado strips. Gently brush or spray the tops of the strips with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Bake the avocado for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned and crisp, gently turning after 10 minutes.
- Rub the peppers lightly with olive oil and arrange on a second baking sheet. Place them in the oven with the avocado and bake for about 16 minutes, until tender and darkened in spots, turning after 8 minutes.
- While the avocado slices and poblano peppers roast, place all of the spread ingredients into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an S-blade. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Hollow out the rolls by scooping out the soft centers. Slather the black bean spread inside the top and bottom halves of each roll, then layer with the crispy baked avocados, roasted poblano peppers and lettuce leaves.
Make sure to use avocados that are ripe, but not over ripe. They should still be nice and green and have a bit of firmness.