In Mexico, small masa cakes are often filled with shredded meat. Here, they are turned into a filling vegetarian main course by substituting the chicken with refried beans, salsa and avocado. If you’re short on time, you can use purchased refried black beans and jarred salsa instead of making your own.
Black Bean and Avocado Sopes
For the masa dough:
1 1/2 cups (8 1/4 oz./260 g) masa harina
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) warm water (120°F/49°C)
For the filling:
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/3 cups finely chopped (7 oz./220 g) yellow onion
1 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 cans (each 15 oz./425 g) black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups diced (12 oz./375 g) tomatoes
1/2 cup (2/3 oz./20 g) finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeño chile, finely chopped
1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml) canola oil
2 cups (2 oz./60 g) finely shredded romaine lettuce
2 small ripe avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and cut into cubes
To make the masa dough, in a bowl, whisk together the masa harina, chili powder and salt. Add the warm water and knead until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. (If the masa dough seems too crumbly as you are forming the sopes, knead a few drops of water into the dough.) Divide the dough into 12 golf ball–size pieces. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 10 minutes.
While the dough is resting, preheat an oven to 200°F (95°C).
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add 1 cup (5 oz./155 g) of the onion and the cumin seeds and sauté until they begin to brown, about 2 1/2 minutes. Add the beans and mash with a potato masher until nearly smooth. Add 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) water and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm. In a bowl, combine the remaining 1/3 cup (2 oz./45 g) onion, the tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeño and lime juice. Season the beans and the tomato mixture to taste with salt.
In a deep cast-iron fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the canola oil until it reaches 350°F (180°C) on a deep-frying thermometer. Meanwhile, press the masa balls between your palms and then transfer them to a sheet of plastic wrap. Pat them out with your fingertips until they are about 3 inches (7.5 cm) in diameter. Pinch up the edges to form little tart shells. Cover the completed shells with plastic wrap as you work. When the oil is ready, fry the sopes in batches of three until golden brown and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes per batch. Transfer the fried sopes to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while frying the remaining ones.
Divide the bean mixture among the masa shells. Top with the tomato mixture, lettuce and avocado. Divide the sopes among 4 plates and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Find more simple, healthy meals for every night of the week
in our book Weeknight Vegetarian, by Ivy Manning.