Things To Do With Corn Tortillas
Corn tortillas are cheap, gluten free and widely available. They are made from whole grain cornmeal and are WIC friendly. I think that more people don’t use them because they’re not sure what to do with them. Besides enchiladas and taquitos, there are many ways to make corn tortillas appetizing. We serve them fried, as a hot bread with curries, Mexican food and spicy stews. They’re good for lots of other things too. Here’s a few examples.
To make your own taco shells you need a clean oven rack. Drape the tortillas over bars of an oven rack and bake them at 350º until crisp. This could take from 10 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven and the thickness of the tortillas. They look sort of like bats hanging upside down over the metal bars. I find this a little fiddly to do in practice. When you want tacos and don’t have any taco shells though, it’s certainly doable.
Tortilla Chips are very easy to make. Take several fresh or stale corn tortillas and cut them into strips or wedges. I make 6 wedges per tortilla. They are easy to cut if you make stack of 4 or 6 of them and then cut with scissors. Arrange the tortillas in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Brush lightly with vegetable oil or mist with nonstick oil. Salt lightly if desired. Bake at 400° until just starting to brown. Watch them closely because they will burn quickly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Use anywhere you would store-bought tortilla chips. These are especially great if you’re counting calories. When you don’t have the time though, or if you’re just shoveling mass quantities of GFCF food into starving children’s gaping maws, then store-bought tortilla chips are a reasonably priced alternative. We use tortilla chips instead of crackers in homemade chili
Tostadas are made like tortilla chips, only you leave the tortilla whole. Arrange them on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake until crisp. Top with refried beans, lettuce or shredded cabbage and salsa. Eat like an open face sandwich.
Tortilla Bowls are another tasty use for corn tortillas. You need bowls that can be baked in the oven to make them. Many ceramic bowls are oven safe, usually if you look on the bottom of the bowl it will tell you one way or the other. I have a couple of small pyrex bowls I use. To prepare, place a corn tortilla inside the bowl. Crimp and wave the edges to make it fit. It helps to warm the tortilla slightly before fitting it into the bowl. Bake the tortilla for about 10 minutes at 400° or until very lightly browned. Remove from the bowl and allow to cool before using. These can be made ahead of time if desired. Store in a plastic bag. Crisp if necessary by reheating for a few minutes in a 350° oven.
Fill the tortilla bowls with lettuce, shredded cabbage or homemade sprouts, then add taco meat, leftover chili, or refried beans, and top with salsa. These make glamorous, kid-friendly taco salads.
Quesadillas are made by layering refried beans in between two tortillas. If desired, add additional items such as onion, chopped chicken or salsa. Fry the tortilla sandwich in a little margarine or oil until the underside is slightly browned. Then flip and brown the remaining side. Cut into wedges to serve with a small cup of salsa. If you have any dairy-free cheese you may sprinkle it on top of the beans before frying.
Fried Tortillas are probably the most favorite way we serve corn tortillas. They’re so popular that the boys (both teenagers) have even learned to make these themselves. Simply heat a couple tablespoons of fat (vegetable oil or bacon grease or margarine or shortening) in a skillet, over medium high heat. When the fat is hot lay in the tortilla and cook until lightly browned. Flip the tortilla and brown the second side. Depending on the temperature of the skillet this should take only about a minute or so. Watch the tortillas closely so they don’t burn. An adult serving is 3 or 4 of these, a teen serving is 6 or 8. Serve with spicy bean dishes or curries. Or fry in margarine and serve with a drizzle of honey or molasses. Divine!
Hot & Fresh Tortillas are another simple family favorite. Warm a clean, dry skillet over medium-high heat. Lay in a tortilla, cook for about 15 or 20 seconds, or until hot and pliable. If desired flip the tortilla and cook for an additional 10 seconds on the second side. Transfer the tortilla to plate. Serve hot. The are extra yummy when spread with peanut butter and wrapped around a banana.
Hot Buttered Tortillas are made from the above recipe, and then they are spread lightly with dairy-free margarine. Easy and tasty snack. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar for a real treat.
Hot Dog Wrap/Bun is a really convenient way to serve hot dogs and kid friendly besides. I use 2 corn tortillas for each “bun”. Lay the tortillas on top of one another and treat them like they are a single, thick tortilla. Microwave for 6-seconds. Flip and microwave for 6-more seconds. Lay a hot dog in the center. Top with ketchup, mustard, onions etc. Roll up and eat. My kids are especially fond of this dish. It’s cheap and easy too, which you know I like. They can bring their own tortillas to cook-outs and eat hot dogs along with all of their peers.
Wraps are made by heating a corn tortilla in the microwave, or on a skillet. Then layer sandwich meat and lettuce or shredded cabbage on the tortilla, roll it up and eat or pack in a lunchbox. Corn tortillas aren’t quite as good for wraps as flour tortillas. When the tortilla cools down, it tends to break or tear when rolled.
Breakfast Burritos are simply a wrap stuffed with scrambled eggs and maybe some crumbled sausage or bacon bits. Add a little salsa and serve with sliced fresh oranges. My family really likes these when I make them with turkey sausage. Half a pound of turkey sausage and 6-whole eggs will make a dozen breakfast burritos. They’re good for lunch too.
If you have any other ideas for using corn tortillas please share them in the comment section.