I cook from either a craving or what is available in my frig. For this crunchy, yummy recipe I had herbs that needed to be cut from my small garden and was craving something spicy, crunchy, and cheesy. The cilantro-pepper pesto fried cheese tostada came to life and it is amazing! The pesto bowl was licked clean by my husband. What he didn't know is that I snuck some pesto and hide it before he could eat it all! It lasts for up to 7 days in the refrigerator!
Cilantro-Pepper Pesto Fried Cheese Tostadas
- 1/4 cup cider beer (less than 20 g sugars per 12 ounce beer)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons dark agave nectar syrup
- 2 tablespoons honey mustard
- 1-1/2 tablespoons adobo sauce from canned chipotles in adobo sauce
- 2 tablespoons lime juice, plus 1/2 its zest
- 1-1/2 cups loosely packed fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 3 garlic cloves, rough chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, rough chopped
- 1 shallot, rough chopped
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, freshly ground
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh ground sea salt
- 2 cups white rice flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, freshly ground
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups plain bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 12 pepper jack string cheese sticks, cut in half to equal 24 piecs
- 1 quart canola oil
- 8 flat tostada shells
- 3/4 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
- 8 sprigs cilantro or basil for garnish
Heat oven to 350 degrees and the deep fryer to 365 degrees. Combine the first 12 ingredients for the pesto in a food processor and pulsate until well blended. If the mixture seems to dry, simply add more beer or water. Now is the time to taste the pesto. If more lime juice, black pepper or salt is needed, add it now and pulse a few more times. Cover and set aside.
Batter and Fry
To another small bowl, add the flour, salt, garlic, paprika, and pepper. Blend with your fingers. To a second bowl, add the eggs and beat well. To the third bowl add the bread crumbs and the cheese and blend. Place as many pieces of cheese that will fit in the flour bowl and coat the cheese sticks. Remove from flour, shaking off excess. Add the sticks to the eggs and coat well. Now coat in the bread crumbs and cheese. Repeat this process until all cheese sticks are coated. Place the cheese sticks on a coated cookie sheet and place in the refrigerator for 5 minutes. Deep fry small batches of the cheese sticks in 365 degree oil for 30 seconds. If a deep fryer is not available, fry them in a -inch of oil added to a large fry pan for 30 seconds on each side. Remove to paper towels in single layer to drain.
Tostadas and Garnish
Arrange tostadas on a baking sheet in a single layer. Spread pesto onto each tostada. Top with equal amounts of cheese and bake for 3 - 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and add the fried cheese sticks to each tostada along with a few drizzles of the chili sauce. Garnish with basil or cilantro leaves and serve immediately.
Notes: The beer for the pesto can be replaced by chardonnay or water. If the pesto is not spicy enough, add more adobo sauce. A meat of choice can be added to the tostadas once they are removed from the oven. Avocado slices and green chili salsa would also make a great additional topping.