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What Is Tostada?

A Puerto Rican tostada might use Swiss cheese.
Flour tortillas are toasted for use in a tostada.
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  • Written By: Angela Farrer
  • Edited By: Rachel Catherine Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 26 October 2014
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Tostada is a Latin American dish consisting of toasted tortillas or bread slices often served with meat and vegetable filling or sometimes topped with melted cheese. Different Latin American countries usually have their own takes on this dish. Many tostada recipes leave room for creativity because the types of ingredients can vary widely. Cooking traditions from Mexico, Cuba, and Puerto Rico all have their own unique versions of this dish.

In traditional Mexican cooking, a tostada differs from a chalupa because it is open-faced rather than folded over the filling. Corn or flour tortillas can both be found in different Mexican tostada recipes, and most cooks fry each tortilla in a skillet with some olive or vegetable oil until crisp. A healthier alternative is baking the tortillas in the oven, which can make tostadas with lower amounts of fat. People following a low-carbohydrate eating plan can also substitute whole wheat or vegetable-based tortillas in these recipes.

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Popular fillings for Mexican tostadas can include shredded chicken, lettuce, avocado, and cheese. Mexican tostada recipes also frequently call for refried beans, salsa, or chopped green chilies. These types of tortilla-based tostadas are usually made so that the cooked tortilla forms a bowl for the rest of the filling. They are usually served open-faced with the cooked meat on top of the rest of the filling, and the tortilla can be eaten after the rest of the meat, vegetables, and sauce. This type of tostada originated from the need to use up tortillas that were a few days old before they became too stale to eat.

Cuban tostadas are noticeably different from other types. They simply consist of white bread slices that have been spread with butter and pressed flat before toasting them to a golden brown color. This kind of tostada is often dipped into hot coffee and is a favorite breakfast item in Cuba. Two- to three-day-old homemade Cuban-style bread is a popular choice for this recipe, and it is often made into tostadas before going stale as well.

Puerto Rican tostadas follow a similar recipe as Cuban ones, although the type of bread is normally quite different. They are usually made from traditional Puerto Rican bread called pan de agua that has been sliced, dipped in either milk or beaten eggs, and fried in a skillet. This kind of tostada is also sometimes served with a slice of Swiss cheese melted over the top.

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