I challenged myself recently to make a truly fast, easy, cheap dinner from what I had in my pantry and refrigerator, and I found myself falling back on an old standby from my post-college days: taquitos.
These little corn tortillas filled and rolled into crispy cigar-shaped treats bring back great memories of when dinner was often some sort of easy-to-make, snack food enjoyed with a group of friends.
I find taquitos fun to assemble. How many dishes can you say that about? The tortillas are rolled around a filling — in this case canned black beans and corn, grated cheese, salsa and dry seasoning — baked until crisp and then served with whatever sides you have on hand: salsa, sour cream, fresh cilantro, diced onions and tomatoes.
You can get fancier by making a more complicated filling with seasoned meats or seafood, and fresh seasonings and spices, such as scallions or peppers. I made this a bit more complicated than it had to be by mixing my own dried spice blend and whipping up a homemade fresh salsa of mango and onion.
If you’d rather, use your favorite dry taco seasoning and a jar of salsa.
Many people fry taquitos. They are delicious that way, but that can get messy. I prefer to simply roll them, place them on a sheet pan, brush them with olive oil and bake them until crispy.
Some seal the edges of the tortillas with egg wash, or use toothpicks or skewers to hold them tight. That’s important if you plan to fry them, but if you are baking them, just fit them snugly together on the sheet pan, and they should stay tightly rolled.
One caveat: This recipe makes 24 taquitos. If you won’t eat the entire batch right away, it’s best to store the tortillas and filling separately in the refrigerator and bake them as you go. This makes them a great option if not everyone eats at the same time at your house. Once they’re baked, they should be eaten right away so they retain their crispness.
I find that about four taquitos per person with a generous amount of salsa and toppings creates enough for a light supper. If you have the ingredients to make a veggie-filled salad or a vegetable side dish to serve with them, go ahead.
These rolled up, crispy treats are almost as fun to make as they are to eat. Bake a whole platter to serve with your favorite homemade or jarred salsa and garnishes such as fresh cilantro, sour cream or Mexican crema, and diced onion and tomato. Or, make the filling and refrigerate, allowing folks to roll and bake a taquito snack any time. If you have a favorite taco seasoning, simplify things by using it in place of the dry spices. Add cooked shredded chicken, beef or ground meat to the filling, if you like.
Oven-Baked Black Bean and Corn Taquitos With Mango Salsa
Active: 20 minutes | Total: 40 minutes
4 to 6 servings
FOR THE TAQUITOS
2 cups mashed cooked black beans
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup fresh, canned or frozen whole kernel corn
¼ cup medium salsa
1½ cups coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese or crumbled queso fresco
24 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Olive oil or nonstick cooking spray
FOR THE MANGO SALSA
¼ cup minced white onion
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced (can substitute ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes)
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
10 ounces (1½ cups) frozen mango, thawed and roughly chopped
For the taquitos: Position the rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 375 F.
In a medium bowl, mix together the black beans, chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, red pepper flakes, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano and cayenne pepper. Add the corn, salsa and cheese to the bowl and gently mix to combine.
Lay the tortillas on a large, rimmed baking sheet and transfer to the oven for about 1 minute, to soften. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place a clean kitchen towel over the tortillas to keep them warm.
Set a tortilla on your work surface and lay 1 heaping tablespoon of the black bean mixture in a line across the center-top. Roll the tortilla tightly around the beans so it is snug in the center, like a big cigar. Lay it seam side down on the baking sheet.
Continue with the remaining tortillas and beans, lining the taquitos up right next to each other to keep them from unfurling.
Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the surface of the taquitos with the oil or lightly coat them with nonstick cooking spray.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until lightly brown and crispy.
For the salsa: While the taquitos are baking, make the salsa. In a medium bowl, combine the onion, jalapeño (or crushed red pepper flakes), lime juice, oil, cumin, salt and pepper until mixed together. Gently fold in the mangos. Cover and chill before serving.
Serve the taquitos with the mango salsa on the side.
Make ahead: The filling can be made ahead and refrigerated for about a week. The salsa is best if eaten just after chilling, but can be made up 3 days ahead.
Storage notes: The filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Both can be frozen, separately, for 6 weeks and 3 weeks, respectively. The mango salsa can be stored in a separate container for about 3 days.
Tested size: 6 servings; 4 taquitos and about 2 to 3 ounces of salsa
Nutrition: Calories: 587; Total Fat: 18 g; Saturated Fat: 6 g; Cholesterol: 30 mg; Sodium: 577 mg; Carbohydrates: 85 g; Dietary Fiber: 14 g; Sugars: 7 g; Protein: 21 g