If you’re not familiar with what tortas are, they’re a Mexican sandwich made with all sorts of different delicious fillings. The best part is that they can be eaten hot or cold, are extremely versatile and are made with the most incredible bread. If you’ve never had a Mexican bolillo, warm out of the oven, I’m here to tell you that you’re missing out. On a separate side note, a torta can also refer to a cake, and quite honestly, I wouldn’t be mad at either of these dishes. These Spicy Pinto Bean and Ham Tortas are one of the easiest sandwiches you’ll ever make. It requires practically no cooking and can be made as a quick weeknight dinner, a light weekend lunch or even a perfect picnic treat. The real star of the show however, is the spicy pinto bean spread that starts simply with a can of pinto beans, which you probably already have in your pantry, and if you don’t, then you should start stocking up because these sandwiches are a dream come true.
Let’s talk beans. This recipe is easy because we’re using a can of beans (which I always keep in the pantry), but we’re going to jazz these beans up to give them so much more flavor. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with the oil. Once hot, add the garlic, onion and jalapeño and cook until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the chipotle sauce and cook for another minute.
**Note: Most of the heat in this dish comes from the chipotle sauce. You can add as much or as little as you’d like, depending on your tolerance for spice. Or you can just omit it and take out the jalapeño as well, if you don’t like heat at all! Smoked paprika would be a great substitute since it’s not spicy but smokey!**
Add the beans and their juice to the skillet, salt, pepper and seasonings and cook until the beans have come up to a simmer. They’re already cooked, so we’re just looking to warm them up.
Mash with a potato masher until somewhat smooth. You don’t want it completely smooth, since we want some texture to bite into but we do want it spreadable to put it into our sandwiches! Remove from heat and set aside.
Split the rolls and toast on a pan with a bit of oil or butter, if desired. To assemble, spread bottom halves with beans and top halves with mashed avocado. Divide the ham between the sandwiches, placing on top of the beans. Top with cheese and lettuce and sandwich together.
**Tip: Queso fresco is a Mexican cheese made with raw cow or goat milk, although here in the US it is pasteurized. You can find it now at most supermarkets in the cheese section, but if you can’t, you can use sliced Monterey or Pepper jack cheese!**
I like to serve the sandwiches with plantain chips, which are my absolute favorite, or you can do regular chips of course. Chips and salsa on the side would be great or even a simple salad!
I used a Mexican Bolillo for the rolls, but a kaiser roll would work great here as well. I’m basically trying to make sure you know just how adaptable this recipe is!
If you want to keep things on the vegetarian side, these tortas would honestly still be tasty without the ham. Or you can lightly season sliced zucchini or eggplant with oil, salt and pepper and grill for a few minutes per side. Then use that instead!
The next time you’re looking for a quick and easy weeknight dinner, or weekend lunch or are in search for that perfect picnic sandwich, this one here is your best bet. It’s crazy just what you can do with a can of beans from your pantry. That’s why I always make sure to keep some on hand. I’ll always have a variety of different canned beans in the pantry, just in case I need something fast.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium jalapeño, minced
- 1 medium brown onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo sauce
- 1(16-ounce) can pinto beans, with their juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- 4 Mexican bolillo rolls (or Kaiser rolls)
- 2 medium avocados, pitted, peeled and smashed
- 10 ounces queso fresco, sliced
- 2 cups shredded lettuce
- 1½ pounds sliced deli ham
- plantain chips or regular chips for serving
- Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with the oil. Once hot, add the garlic, onion and jalapeño and cook until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the chipotle sauce and cook for another minute. Add the beans and their juice, salt, pepper and seasonings and cook until the beans have come up to a simmer. Mash with a potato masher until somewhat smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Split the rolls and toast on a pan with a bit of oil or butter, if desired. To assemble, spread bottom halves with beans and top halves with mashed avocado. Divide the ham between the sandwiches, placing on top of the beans. Top with cheese and lettuce and sandwich together. Slice in half and serve with chips on the side. Enjoy!