Vegetarian Cauliflower Tostadas Recipe with Chipotle Sauce

cauliflower tostadas with avocado, red cabbage, and lime

I’m quite sure this recipe wouldn’t have come from my kitchen a decade ago. It’s quite emblematic of how cooking — mine and our culture’s as a whole — has evolved in the 10 years since I started this blog. I can point to a number of factors that have gotten me here, with a cauliflower-crowned tostada recipe I’m plum crazy about:

  • The influence of restaurant chefs moving vegetables from the side to the center of the plate
  • The national interest in vegetarian and vegan diets
  • Concern about how a meat-heavy diet can impact the planet
  • Nutrition research on the benefits of healthy fats versus low-fat eating
  • The awareness that more is better when it comes to vegetables

Personally I think our collective consciousness about health, animal welfare, and the environment has inspired some seriously inventive cuisine. These tostadas are no exception: Piled with vegetables, heavy on avocado, without a lick of meat or cheese, and spiced with a hit of chipotle, they’re colorful, flavorful, and delicious. 

How to Make Vegetarian Cauliflower Tostadas

These tostadas may sound complicated, but the method for making them isn’t. 

  1. Start by roasting cauliflower florets that have been tossed in olive oil and spices. Make things easier on yourself by using pre-cut cauliflower, figuring you’ll need 6 to 7 cups for the recipe. 
  2. Crisp the tortillas in the oven rather than a deep fryer. Though frying is more traditional, baking means less mess, not to mention fewer calories.  
  3. Once the tostadas are crisped and cooled, spread smashed avocado over the surface and pile with cauliflower.
  4. Finish the whole thing with a bright pop of pickled vegetables and a drizzle of yogurt chipotle sauce. Scrumptious!

How to make these tostadas family-friendly

You might take one look at this recipe and think, “my kid will never eat that”. That may be true, but if this recipe is one that you’d like to try, I say go for it. There are upsides to your kids seeing you enjoy less familiar foods…and who knows, maybe they’ll dig in too. Instead of assembling them yourself, try putting all the fixings on the table and let everyone make their own. You could add a bowl of something you know your little ones embrace, such as shredded cheese or pinto beans. Regardless, any leftovers can be enjoyed the next day.

What are the health benefits of cauliflower?

All the ingredients in these tostadas make them enormously nutritious, from the heart-healthy avocado to the yogurt drizzle. The nutrition superstar, though, maybe well be the cauliflower. The recipe boasts six to seven cups of it in four servings. That’s a lot of cauliflower and translates to a hefty dose of fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K, not to mention plenty of cancer-fighting properties.

Can you make this recipe vegan?

If you eat a dairy-free diet or are vegan, you could swap in a plain, plant-based yogurt for the conventional one in the sauce. You could also consider thinning hummus with water and using that in place of the yogurt. Alternatively, you can skip the sauce altogether and use your favorite Mexican salsa for flavor instead. 

What are the best tortillas for tostadas?

When it comes to making tostadas, any corn tortillas will do. I routinely reach for organic ones if they’re available and prefer the traditional six-inch size. That said, if you can get your hands on mini corn tortillas (about three or four inches across), they’d be great for turning these tostadas into a fun dish for a party. 

For other tasty Mexican-style dishes, check out these recipes

Mexican Street Corn Salad
Instant Pot Chicken Salsa Verde
Loaded Chicken Quesadillas with Avocado
Baja Style Shrimp Tacos
Chicken and Black Bean Burritos by The Spruce Eats
Tofu Tacos by Well Plated

Cauliflower Tostadas with Smashed Avocado and Chipotle Drizzle

While these tostadas may not exactly be traditional, they are tasty. The chipotle pepper gives the sauce a smoky kick. If you aren’t so keen on heat, cut the amount to just 1/2 of a chipotle pepper (about 1 teaspoon minced). For a simple shortcut, feel free to use pre-cut cauliflower, figuring you’ll need 6 yo 7 cups for the recipe. The tostadas are fairly light on the appetite, so consider serving pinto or black beans on the side.

Course Dinner
Cuisine Tex Mex
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4 servings (8 tostadas)
Calories 417 kcal
Author katiemorford

Ingredients

  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided plus a pinch for avocado)
  • 8 six-inch corn tortillas
  • ½ heaping cup plain yogurt
  • 1 small chipotle pepper en adobo (sold in cans in the Mexican food section of the market)
  • 2 large ripe avocados
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Pickled onions or pickled jalapeños (see Notes)
  • 1 ½ cups finely shredded red or green cabbage

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Cut the cauliflower into small florets and pile onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with chili powder, cumin, and ¾ teaspoon of the salt. Toss well and spread out. If the cauliflower is crowded, use a second baking sheet. Bake until tender and lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

  3. Lay tortillas on 1 to 2 large baking sheets (slightly overlapping is ok) and bake until crispy, about 17 minutes. 

  4. Mince the chipotle pepper into a puree and mix in a small bowl with the yogurt and ¼ teaspoon salt. In a separate small bowl, use a fork to mash the avocado, lime juice, and a big pinch of salt.
  5. To assemble, spread avocado onto the tortillas. Top with the cauliflower, a drizzle of the chipotle sauce, a few pickled onions or pickled jalapeños, and a little bundle of cabbage. Serve while the cauliflower is still warm.

Recipe Notes

Make pickled onions by stirring 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon kosher salt into ¼ cup red/white wine vinegar in a small bowl until dissolved. Add ½ medium thinly sliced red onion. Leave to macerate for a good 20 minutes. Alternatively, use store-bought sliced pickled jalapeños. 

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