Too Hot Tamales: Smoky Bean, Bacon and California Avocado Tostadas

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bacon, bean, avocado tostada

Bean, Bacon, Avocado Tostadas

The Too Hot Tamales. Have you heard of them? This spicy duo is comprised of Border Grill’s co-chef/owners Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. Maybe you recognize them from a little show called Top Chef Masters.

Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger
Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger

I recently attended a demo featuring this dynamic duo and California Avocados. These ladies killed it. First of all, they successfully pulled off the entire event in the middle of a power outage (pros). Second of all, they were pure entertainment, playing off one another, finishing each other’s sentences, and dropping knowledge all over the place.


Green Beans

Here are some tips I came away with:

  • How to Pit and Peel your Avocados like a Boss. Like a Top Chef Master Boss.
  • When you’re chopping a bunch of stuff, bring your cutting board to the pan to transfer your goods in one fell swoop.
  • After blanching green beans in well-salted water, don’t rinse them under cold water. Simply spread them out on paper towels. They’ll cool quickly and will taste better because you won’t wash away the salt.

Blanched Green Beans
Blanched Green Beans

Mary Sue and Susan made a dish that knocked my socks off. Even more impressive -- it’s a relatively healthy salad. (Ok, so it has bacon in it, and a dressing that incorporates bacon drippings, and it’s served on a fried tortilla, but it has enough greens in it for me to consider this a salad).

These Smoky Bean, Bacon and California Avocado Tostadas have it all. They are crunchy and creamy, salty and acidic, smoky, tangy, fresh, and just plain satisfying.

The avocados in this dish play a big role in that satisfaction.

California Avocados
California Avocados

By the way, did you know that Hass avocados are pronounced the way they’re spelled? Hass not hoss.

Marinated avocados
Marinated avocados

The avocados are marinated in a mixture of lime juice, EVOO, scallions and cilantro. They bring the decadence to this dish.

I’ve already made these tostadas twice since the Too Hot Tamales brought them into my life. They’re a game changer.

Smoky Bean, Bacon and California Avocado Tostadas
Smoky Bean, Bacon and California Avocado Tostadas

Smoky Bean, Bacon and California Avocado Tostadas
These tostadas are perfect for summertime. They’re light and fresh, but filling and satisfying at the same time. (Recipe created by chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger for the California Avocado Commission. Copyright © 2008, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger.)

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Marinated California Avocados

2 ripe Fresh California Avocados, seeded, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice*
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 scallions, very thinly sliced
1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine avocados with olive oil, lime juice, scallions, cilantro, and salt and pepper, to taste. Chill up to 30 minutes before serving.
  2. Serve on Smoky Bean, Bacon and California Avocado Tostadas.

Smoky Bean, Bacon and California Avocado Tostadas

3 cups water
1 cup trimmed green beans, cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
4 slices bacon, thinly sliced crosswise
2 Tbsp. canola oil
3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Jalapeño chiles (red and green), stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz.) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 handful frisée
4 (6-inch) corn tortillas, fried until crisp
Marinated California Avocados (see the make-ahead recipe above)


  1. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan with a large pinch of salt. Cook green beans until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and scatter on a platter lined with paper towels. Set aside to cool in the refrigerator.
  2. Meanwhile, fry bacon in a skillet until crisp then drain on paper towels. Transfer a spoonful of bacon fat to a mixing bowl and add canola oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, salt, pepper and chiles. Whisk to form a vinaigrette.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine green beans, black beans, red kidney beans and bacon. Pour on vinaigrette and gently toss to evenly coat. Chill until serving time.
  4. To serve, spread a layer of bean and bacon salad on each crispy tortilla. Top with Marinated California Avocados and serve immediately.

Variation: Serve bean and bacon salad and Marinated California Avocados layered in a chilled martini glass. Garnish with tortilla chips.

*Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity accordingly.