​Inspired by Nopalito: A Mexican Kitchen, this month’s cookbook from the club held at SubText Bookstore, I gathered some friends for a fiesta of my own.

The morning of, I awoke with a taste for smothered chiles and spiced beans between sliced bolillo (Mexican bread), avocado, and an undeniable cabbage crunch. Images of dancing tortas appeared between my eyes as I tried recalling my dreams. That’s when I knew what I was going to prepare for the feast. Others told me they would bring Mexican rice, gaucamole, cheese dip, homemade hot sauces (including a new method of clarified hot sauce, more on that coming soon), mango salad, and tomato black beans to accompany. Conditions were perfect.

A Mexican Fiesta inspired by Nopalito, Twin Cities Agenda

Rather than make individual tortas, I prepared all the components separately. Everyone chose their own salsas, protein, and stuffings to build individual, customizable sandwiches.

Here’s a look into the creation of my vegetarian version of a torta. It’s loaded with fiber, lean protein, and has a wonderful smoky flavor from the homemade adobo sauce with just a touch of brightness from the tomatillo & jalapeño salsa. A nutritious take on a classic Mexican sandwich that will have you begging for seconds. Diner tested, dietitian approved.

Mexican dinner, Adobo Black Bean Torta, Twin Cities Agenda

vegetarian adobo black bean tortas

Serves 4 large tortas or 8 (more manageable) halves

1 cup adobo sauce (recipe below or store bought)
2 cups black beans cooked
2 cups cabbage, shredded
1 tsp salt
1 cup cotjia cheese (optional)
salsa jalapeño (see recipe below)
1/2 cup crema*
1 avocado, sliced
4 bolillo (Mexican sandwich rolls) cut in half lengthwise and widthwise
*can substitute Greek yogurt or sour cream

Heat the beans in the adobo sauce and keep warm until ready to use. In a small bowl, combine the cabbage with salt. When ready for assembly, in the following order, layer your sandwich in this order: bread bottom, beans, cotjia cheese, salsa, crema, avocado, bread top.

Mexican dinner, Twin Cities Agenda

Adobo sauce

This recipe makes 1-2 cups, which ultimately depends on your desired consistency.

4 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 dried pasilla chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 dried mulato chiles, stemmed and seeded
6 cloves garlic
1 white onion, cut into thick wedges
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup parsley with stems
1/4 cup oil
2 teaspoon cumin, ground
1 teaspoon coriander, ground

In a 2 quarts boiling water, add the chiles, garlic, and onion. Cook for 30 minutes and puree in a blender with the remaining ingredients. Adjust with chile water until you reach desired consistency.

Mexican Dinner, Twin Cities Agenda

Salsa Jalapeño

2 jalapeños, stemmed
8 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 bunch cilantro
1/4 cup white onion

In a blender, combine all ingredients and allow to chill until ready to serve. Sometimes the end result may be bitter. Feel free to experiment here and adjust the flavor using agave or a pinch of sugar to offset the bitter notes.

All pictures by Ranelle Kirchner.

Read next: Recipe of the Week: Chicken Tortilla Soup