Happy Monday, everyone!
Ugh, I kind of hate when people say that. Really what I mean to say is, I hope everyone had an awesome weekend and that the feeling of awesomeness is trickling into Monday, making it at least somewhat bearable.
Anyway, I had a nice weekend, particularly on Friday night when a few friends got together to belatedly celebrate my birthday. We started out at a popular Mexican dive restaurant in Brooklyn, La Superior, where we had a delicious, festive and cheap dinner before heading to Lucky Dog, a hipster- and dog-friendly bar near the restaurant, for drinks and puppy love. The next morning, Matt and I jointly decided to go back to La Superior for brunch because it was so oh so yummy the night before and seemed like the perfect cure to our “tiredness”.
Like the night before, we ordered guac, obvi, and I ordered a couple poblano tacos and tasty black bean soup. Matt chose a dish called Molletes, which is a baguette topped with refried beans, melted cheese, pico salsa and optional chorizo. As soon as the waiter set it down in front of Matt, I knew this was going to inspire my next recipe.
The Molletes from La Superior, while tasty, is not very light or healthy. In fact, it’s carb and fat central. So I decided to scale my version down a bit to make it lighter and simpler. For my rendition of these Mexican French bread pizzas, I used all-natural store bought pita rounds, one per serving, and topped them with simple smashed black beans, a lighter layer of cheese, fresh cherry tomatoes, and to “kick it up a notch”, some fresh mango salsa.
This recipe is so easy and basically fool-proof. There is no heat-cooking necessary until baking the assembled “pit-zas” at the end. All you really have to do is mash the beans, shred the cheese (I always prefer shredding my own off the block), and prepare the salsa. Then it’s just layer, bake, enjoy. In addition to the whole dish coming together in under 30 minutes, it’s also a filling and inexpensive meal as well. My ingredients, all purchased at Whole Foods (except for the hot sauce), ended up being about $3.50 or less per serving. Not bad, right? Additionally, packed with fiber, protein, calcium and fresh produce, this dish is as nourishing as it is delicious. Need to make it vegan? Use dairy-free cheese, like Daiya brand, or replace the cheese entirely with fresh avocado. This is a fun recipe to play around with so feel free to use your imagination.
So try to enjoy your Monday (as much as possible), and definitely give this recipe a try if you’re in the market for a cheap and easy dinner that also happens to be muy delicioso.
Cheap & Easy: Mexican Pita Pizzas with Fresh Mango Salsa
Serves: 4 Start to Finish: 25 minutes
24-28 ounces cooked Black Beans (if using canned or boxed, organic and no-salt-added variety preferred)
2 teaspoons Hot Sauce, I used Frank’s brand
Sea Salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar Cheese
16 cherry tomatoes, quartered
4 whole Pitas (120-150 calories each)
Mango Salsa (see recipe below)
For Mango Salsa, mix together…
1 ripe Mango (about 1 cup), diced
1-2 teaspoons minced Garlic (I used 2 because I love garlic)
1 tablespoon fresh Lime Juice
Salt & Pepper to taste (I used 1/4 teaspoon each)
1/4 cup diced Red Onion
2 tablespoons chopped Cilantro (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Drain and rinse black beans. In a bowl, is a fork, potato masher or pastry cutter to mash beans into a spread. Add hot sauce, salt and pepper. I used 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Shred cheese if needed. Add 1/4 of the bean mixture to each pita, spreading evenly to the edges. Top each pita with quartered cherry tomatoes and 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Bake for 10 minutes or until pita is crisp and heated through, and cheese is fully melted.
Meanwhile, make mango salsa (this can be done up to 2 days in advance).
When pitas are finished baking, serve with mango salsa and fresh cilantro, if desired.