Tostadas (pronounced toe-STAH-das) are a traditional Mexican food similar to a taco. Both are made from corn tortillas fried in oil, but the tostada is fried flat while the taco is fried while gently folded. The word "tostada" comes from the Spanish word "tostar", meaning to toast. Tostadas are golden and crisp and serve as a flat platform for a variety of toppings like a taco.

Tostada shells can be purchased in most supermarkets today next to the taco shells. However, tostada shells are also very easy to make from either homemade or store bought corn tortillas. There are two ways to make tostadas:

  1. Fry the tortillas in oil. Heat about an inch of vegetable oil in a skillet. Fry the corn tortillas one at a time in the oil. It should take about 30 seconds for a side to become golden and crisp, then flip and fry the other side. Tongs are the best tool for flipping the tostadas. Drain thoroughly on paper towels before adding toppings.
  2. For a healthier version, bake the tortillas in an oven. I have found that the tortillas make crunchier tostadas if they are first lightly sprayed with cooking oil. Place the tortillas on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about seven or eight minutes until crisp.

It is important that the corn tortillas are not moist before cooking them, as the resulting tostada can be mushy. If the tortillas are damp, gently dry them with a towel or leave them out to dry for an hour or so.

The tostadas should be eaten right after cooking for the best flavor. However, they can also be stored for later by placing them in an airtight container or a plastic bag. A fully loaded tostada is a fast and healthy meal on its own, slathered with refried beans, meat, cheese, and fresh salsa or other chopped veggies. Yum.

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