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Fast food?  I'm completely in favor of it.  Believe me, anything that gets cooked around here anymore is fast food.  But there's "fast food", if you don't mind something made carelessly and sold cheaply, to the detriment of one's health, or fast food you can throw together yourself,  that's a healthy treat.  This one is not only an ethnic curiosity, but delicious and quick, even to eat on the run.  It originated in Central America, a melding of Spanish and Indian cooking, and varies according to culture and country.  In restaurants, it's fried in deep oil, and as a result is a greasy, unhealthy mess.  This isn't at all necessary.

Pupusas are usually constructed with fresh tortillas, made with "masa al instante" or "instant dough", a precooked corn flour that makes a dough with only the addition of warm water.  This makes a mess and also takes time to prepare and clean up afterwards.  It also tends to crack and let the filling leak out (there must be a secret to it, but it escapes me).   So I tried it with commercial corn tortillas.  Select the thinnest ones you can find.  

Fillings can be chopped cooked meat, browned hamburger, leftover chili (mashed), or refried beans, usually with cheese and always with a cabbage salad.  You can use leftover cole slaw, but I usually don't.  Here's my favorite version.

Quick & Healthy Pupusas

SALAD:
finely shredded or sliced cabbage
other veggies as desired, shredded, finely chopped or julliened:
    radishes
    cucumber
    green onion
    shredded carrot
    jicama
    sun-chokes
    red bell pepper
    cooked beets, julienne 
    or whatever you have on hand
vinegar (I use rice vinegar for this one)
a pinch or two of sugar

BEANS:
olive oil
1 medium onion 
1 small green pepper
1 16-oz can pinto beans or light red beans
1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp dried oregano

3 cloves garlic, minced

FOR ASSEMBLY
white cheese, sliced or grated (I use low-fat or fat free)
salsa
corn tortillas
cooking spray

Combine the veggies and sprinkle liberally with vinegar.  Add a pinch or two of sugar.  Stir to coat, cover and refrigerate.

Heat oil in a non-stick pan.  Add finely chopped onion and bell pepper and sauté until soft.  

Drain and rinse the beans and add to pan.  When heated through, add the cumin, oregano and minced garlic.  Mash with a fork or potato masher until at least half or more of the beans are mashed.  Set aside; try to keep the mixture warm.

Separate the tortillas and run them under warm water.  Heat a non-stick griddle to medium, and oil the surface lightly.  Spray each tortilla lightly with cooking spray, and place on the griddle only until soft.  Remove to a plate, cooked side up, and put another tortilla on to soften while you prepare this one.

Smear a layer of bean mixture on one half the tortilla, leaving a 1/2" margin clear all around the edge.  Add cheese, some salsa, then a layer of cabbage salad.  Fold over the other half to make a "half-moon pie", and seal the edges lightly with a finger or fork.  Continue until all the tortillas are filled.  Spray with cooking spray.

Place as many as you can on the griddle without crowding and cook until hot and starting to turn golden.  (Note)  Spray tops with more cooking spray, then turn by putting spatula under the curved side and flipping over gently to cook other side.   Serve immediately while still hot.


Note:  If you like your pupusas chewy or slightly crunchy, cook a little longer until thoroughly golden.  If you'd rather have them tender, cook  only until they start to toast a little and the filling is warmed through.

The Sneaky Kitchen
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