I was up watching cooking programs. What better way to end the day than with visions of more food. Patti Jinich was making ‘Molletes’ (MORE yeah tase) for her sons. Born and raised in Mexico but now living in Washington D.C., I warmed up immediately to her style of cooking. So laid back and uncomplicated.

Molletes are quite simply refried beans spread on toast, sprinkled with grated cheese and made refreshing with a salsa they call Pico De Gallo (PEECO d ga yo). Also referred to as Salsa Fresca or Salsa Mexicana. The ingredients in the salsa can vary considerably, but it would typically have a mixture of very finely diced, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, chillies, lime juice.

After watching Patti Jinich’s sons devour their mother’s molletes I was so convinced of its goodness,  I made my version for my family the next day. It was delicious and so easy to put on the table. Molletes and a soup was dinner and it was very well received.

I have tried quite a few combination of cheeses to top the refried beans and I recommend that you use Emmental, a semi-hard, melty Swiss cheese, as a base and then add a stronger cheese for a burst of flavour. For instance, some feta, chevre or sharp cheddar.

For the salsa topping, a cut chilli is usually used but I’m lazy and just add some spicy chilli powder. The added benefit to using chilli powder over fresh chillies is it reduces the bulk of salsa. You will understand what I mean when you start to pile the salsa on the toasts and then realise there is only so much salsa that will sit obediently on that slice of toast! My solution? Pile on a little salsa and serve everyone a ramekin of salsa on the side. Problem solved.

Mexican Inspired Refried Beans On Toast Topped With A Simple Salsa

Prep: 30 minutes 
Cook: ~10 minutes
Inactive:
Level: Fairly Easy only because there is some chopping involved.
Serves: ~4
Oven Temperature: 360F (180C) oven rack adjusted to top rung
Can recipe be doubled? Yes
Make ahead? Yes, ~15 minutes (without topping them with salsa. Refer to my ‘Tips’ section).

Ingredients

1 can (160z)(454g) refried beans*
~1/2 – 3/4 cup yellow onion diced**
~2 – 3 Tablespoons oil
~1 cup grated emmental cheese
~1 cup grated sharp cheddar OR ~1/2 cup feta
~1 – 2 baguette
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Ground black pepper, chilli powder/flakes, salt
For the salsa topping
~1/4 – 1/3 cup diced yellow onion
~1/2 cup finely sliced cilantro OR spring/green onions OR a combination of both
~1 and 3/4 to 2 cups seeded, diced tomatoes***
~ 3 -4 Tablespoons lime juice
~1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon salt
~2 – 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
~1/4 ground black pepper
Use up the entire contents to fry with the onions. Please note that this recipe for Refried Beans On Toasts will most likely use only half the quantity of refried beans that you would have fried up with the onions. However, they keep very well, at least a week refrigerated so plan to make another batch of toasts later in the week.
**
 You can skip the onions and use the beans straight out of the can. These onions just add more flavour.
*** I like to use grape tomatoes. For its small size, it has a thick pericarp and less seeds which means I don’t have to remove seeds and I actually get more ‘meat’ out of the tomatoes. If you do use a more juicy variety of tomatoes, remove seeds and pulp or you will have one very runny salsa that won’t stay on top of the bread slices but will create a big mess on your serving plate and in your hands as you attempt to eat it.

Method

Turn on oven to 360F (180C) oven rack adjusted to the top rung.

The salsa
1. In a large bowl, add the lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the diced yellow onions next and mix it in. Macerating onions in the lime juice and salt mellows down the sharpness of the onions.
2. Add the seeded and diced tomatoes followed by the cilantro. Do not mix as you want the lime juice and salt in direct contact with the diced onions. Drizzle the extra virgin olive oil over it. Sprinkle the ground black pepper. Do not mix. Set aside while you work on the rest of the ingredients.

Fry the refried beans & prep the cheese(s)
1. Brown the diced onions in the 2 Tablespoons of oil until soft and slightly brown around the edges. Add the can of beans and stir to mix. Taste and add ground black pepper, chilli powder/flakes and salt to taste. Emmental is mild tasting, so season such that it is just slightly over seasoned but watch the salt should the second cheese you are choosing is of the salty kind. Set refried beans aside.
2. Mix the grated Emmental into the second cheese of your choice. However, if you are using feta or a crumbly kind of cheese, do not mix that in.

Slice & toast the bread
1. Slice bread diagonally into ~1/2″ (1.25cm) slices. Lay it on oven tray and drizzle extra virgin oil over it. You are trying to dry out the bread slices a little. That and the drizzle of oil will help prevent the beans from soaking down into the bread.
2. Leave in the oven for ~5 minutes or until it feels a bit dry and toasty (no browning please), remove from oven.

Layer refried beans, cheese(s) & back into oven
1. Spread a layer of beans over the toasts, sprinkle grated cheese(s) over it and if using feta, crumble it over the grated cheese(s).
2. Place in oven and let the cheese melt, ~5 minutes, remove.

To serve
1. Stir the salsa you had prepared earlier.
2. Use a spoon to scoop out ~1 – 2 Tablespoons of salsa, drain off most of the juices.
3. Top each toast with the salsa. Serve extra salsa in ramekins.

Tips

Make them slightly ahead
After you have topped the toasts with beans and cheese(s), pop them in the oven and turn off the oven immediately. The residual heat will melt the cheese and you can keep them in the oven for at least 15 minutes before using them.

Eat them anytime!
These toasts can be eaten at any time of the day, breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, midnight snack. They are very much like a cheese toast.

Refried beans can be made ahead and kept for at least 5 days
The refried beans keeps very well refrigerated. Very convenient.

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