Aarón Sánchez is here to spice up your Cinco de Mayo festivities! The frequent MasterChef judge, who recently partnered with Cacique – an authentic Mexican foods brand – shared a tasty tostada recipe with Us Weekly that’s bound to please even the pickiest partygoer.
The dish, which is vegetarian-friendly, features wild mushrooms, whipped queso fresco and a homemade cilantro-cotija pesto, which Sánchez says adds “layers of flavor” to the meal.
“It’s made up of cilantro and basil, for a verdant freshness, chile and garlic, for punches of flavor, pumpkin seeds, for additional texture, and Cacique Cotija, which adds the finishing touch of authentic Mexican deliciousness,” he explains. “The cotija cheese, in particular, takes this meal to the next level. It’s a robust, salty queso that is similar to a Parmesan or a dry feta, and it really enhances this dish.”
When preparing Mexican food in general, Sánchez is also partial to Cacique’s queso fresco, which he views as an ingredient that is “essential in authentic Mexican cuisine” because it’s the most versatile cheese you can cook with. “This queso is something I recommend you always stock in your fridge,” the Taco Trip host tells Us. “Its fresh, milky flavor and crumbly texture adds a delicious, creamy touch to just about any dish.”
He adds: “I also like to keep things like tortillas, chorizo and fresh vegetables such as onions, jalapeños and tomatoes in my pantry and fridge so I can pull together an authentic meal in a pinch anytime.”
For those who have never cooked Mexican food at home before, Sánchez suggests using ingredients that are as authentic as possible. “When you start with the best, you’re already ahead of the game when it comes to making your meals deliciously easy,” he explains. “That’s why I always recommend going for authentic Mexican options, whether it’s the salsa you’re using, opting for a true Mexican queso rather than cheddar or finding quality tortillas.”
As for his ideal Cinco de Mayo meal? Sánchez has one food in mind: tacos! “In authentic Mexican cuisine, tacos are preferred with soft, fresh corn tortillas,” he says. “Sometimes we fry them flat and add ingredients to the top, but we don’t call those hard tacos – they’re tostadas.”
Speaking of tostadas, check out Aarón Sánchez’s recipe for a version of the Mexican classic below!
Wild Mushroom Tostadas With Whipped Queso Fresco and Cilantro-Cotija Pesto
Makes 4 tostadas
For the cilantro-cotija pesto:
• 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, stems trimmed two inches from the bottom
• 1 cup fresh basil leaves
• 1 cup olive oil, plus extra for storage
• 1/2 serrano chile or 1 jalapeño pepper, coarsely chopped (include seeds for additional spice)
• 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
• 1 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
• 1/2 cup crumbled Cacique Cotija cheese
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Tostadas:
• 8 oz Cacique Queso Fresco
• 1/4 cup heavy cream
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• 1 lb portobello or hen of the woods mushrooms
• 3 tbsps olive oil
• 1 shallot, minced
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1 sprig fresh thyme, stems completely removed
• 4, six-inch corn tostada shells (store-bought is fine)
• 1 lime, quartered
- To make the cilantro-cotija pesto, combine the cilantro, basil and olive oil in a food processor and purée for 1 to 2 minutes. Add chile, garlic, pumpkin seeds and cotija to the food processor and pulse until you have a coarse purée. The final product should resemble a paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside. Clean the inside of the food processor.
- In the clean food processor, combine the queso fresco and heavy cream, then whip to a smooth and spreadable consistency, which should resemble cream cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
- If using portobello mushrooms, slice then into strips about 1/3 of an inch wide. If using hen of the woods mushrooms, pull them apart into small clusters.
- Heat olive oil in a cast iron or heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms in an even layer, being careful not to crowd the pan. Let the mushrooms brown slightly for about 3 to 4 minutes, then add the shallot and garlic. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the garlic and shallots from burning. Add the fresh thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, then transfer to a bowl and taste for seasoning.
- To assemble the tostadas, spread two ounces of the whipped queso fresco mixture onto each shell. Top with 1/4 of the sautéed mushrooms and drizzle with about two tablespoons of the cilantro-cotija pesto. Serve immediately with a lime wedge.
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