Mexican Tortillas with Black Beans and Salsa Fresca
From Lynn Fredericks, author: Cooking Time is Family Time
Adapted by

Yield: 8 tortillas

This is a recipe I learned from a Mexican mom who came to P.S. 61 to demonstrate the preparation of homemade corn tortillas. It seemed miraculous to the children and me that the fine yellow masa four mixed with just a bit of water would, within a few seconds, be transformed into yummy tortillas to fill with whatever we chose. The only tricky part about making tortillas is to be sure to get the consistency of the dough just right. It will just take practice, trial and error. Mas harina flour is inexpensive just as wheat flour. It is available in Latin markets or, since blue corn masa is increasingly available in health and specialty stores, you can buy blue corn masa - they make wonderful tortillas. Masa flour is not the same as cornmeal; cornmeal is not ground finely enough for tortillas.


  • For the Tortillas:

    • 1-1/2 cup and two Tablespoons water
    • 1 cup masa harina
    For the Beans:
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 2 cans black beans, drained
    • 2 teaspoon dry epazote or oregano
    • Kosher salt to taste
    For the Salsa Fresca:
    • 2 tomatoes, diced
    • 1/3 bunch scallions
    • 1 small bunch cilantro, minced
    • Kosher salt to taste


  • Shredded lettuce and grated Monterey Jack cheese (optional)

  • Tortilla press or plastic wrap covering a cutting board and a bottom of a large and heavy pot wrapped in plastic wrap

1. Have children place masa and the one and one-half water in a mixing bowl. Mix well, adding 1 tablespoon more water as needed until mixture forms a dough. Now have the children divide the dough into 8 equal little balls. This offers a great math lesson in fractions. Start out with the dough in one large ball. Next help kids to cut it in half, then cut the halves in one half and so forth until you have 8 equal pieces. Now let the kids roll each piece into a ball. Press each ball into the tortilla maker between sheets of plastic (or place ball on covered board and press down with bottom of covered pot). Cover the remaining dough to keep moist. Continue this process until all 8 tortillas are made, lining them up individually on a cutting board or counter.

2. Heat a large skillet - cast iron if possible. Gently remove one tortilla at a time and cook in the ungreased skillet for about 20 seconds on each side - do this three times. Cover finished tortillas to keep them warm.

To make the filling:
In a medium-sized saucepan, place the oil and heat over medium-high heat. Let the children help you open the cans of beans, with parents removing the sharp lids. Let kids pour the beans (do not drain) directly from the can into the pot with oil. Add seasonings. If you don't have epazote (an herb which is available dried in Latino groceries) use dried oregano. Cook until soft, gently mashing the beans with a wooden spoon.

To make the salsa fresca:
1. Have older children help dice tomatoes and chop the scallions with supervision. Meanwhile, have little ones pluck the cilantro leaves from their stems and tear the leaves into tiny pieces, discarding stems.

2. Next have kids combine tomatoes, scallions and cilantro in a mixing bowl and combine thoroughly. Season to taste with kosher salt.

To serve:
Have each family member spoon some beans inside their tortilla, top with shredded lettuce, salsa fresca and even some grated cheese, if they so desire.


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