TORTILLA AND BEAN TOWER
  • 2 cups dried Beans
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 cups drained and chopped canned plum tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh epazote
  • 1½ cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 1½ cups chopped avocado
  • 1 cup chopped pickled green chili peppers
  • 1½ cups cooked hominy
  • 1 cup pitted black olives
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Tabasco to taste
  • 16 corn tortillas
  • 3 cups grated Monterey Jack
  • 1 cup grated jalapeño cheese
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

Preheat oven to 375°F. Soak, rinse and cook beans. When beans are just tender, remove from heat; set aside.

Generously line a 4-quart casserole with double-thickness, heavy-duty aluminum foil, leaving at least a 2-inch edge by which you can lift the finished bean tower out of the casserole. Generously oil foil and set aside.

Heat oil in saucepan. When hot, add onions and garlic and sauté for 4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs and spices and continue cooking for about 15 minutes or until tomato sauce begins to thicken. Add beans, hominy and olives and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in salt, pepper and Tabasco.

Line the prepared casserole with corn tortillas to cover bottom and sides. Using a slotted spoon, cover bottom with a 1-inch layer of beans. Then cover with a layer of Monterey Jack cheese and a layer of tortillas. Continue making layers until casserole is filled up to about three-quarters of an inch from the top, ending with beans.

Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbling. Remove from oven and cover top with jalapeño jack cheese and chopped fried tortillas. (To do this, heat 2 tablespoons of fat over medium-high heat. Fry each tortilla for one minute per side until crisp. Drain on a paper towel and chop.) Return to oven for 5 minutes or until cheese has melted. Remove from oven and let stand in a warm spot for 30 minutes.

Lift the tortilla tower out of the casserole by holding onto the foil. Invert onto a warm serving platter and gently peel away foil. Surround tower with tomatoes, lettuce, avocado and pickled chili peppers. Serve immediately.