Bacon, Bean & Avocado Salad Tostadas from Top Chef Masters Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Fenigerfeatured

The Too Hot Tamales. Have you heard of them? This spicy duo is comprised of Border Grill’s co-chef/owners Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. Maybe you recognize them from a little show called Top Chef Masters.

Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger

Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan FenigerChefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger

I recently attended a demo featuring this dynamic duo and California Avocados. These ladies KILLED it. I mean really. They slaughtered it. Seared it. Made a homemade stock out of it. They were phenomenal. I’m a little in love.

First of all, they successfully pulled off the entire event in the middle of a power outage (pros). Second of all, they were pure entertainment, playing off one another, finishing each other’s sentences, and dropping knowledge all over the place, all the while cooking up some seriously delicious food (bad ass).

The Canyons, Park City

The Canyons, Park City (EVO Conference)

It all started with a ride to dinner…on a ski lift.

Pickled Cucumber Jalapeno Margarita

Welcome Cocktail: Pickled Cucumber Jalapeno Margarita

Upon arrival, we were greeted by Pickled Cucumber Jalapeno Margaritas. This may or may not have been a ploy to distract us from the blackout. It kind of worked. Yum.

And then best of all, we got to see Mary Sue and Susan in action.

Green Beans

Green Beans

Here are some simple and easy tips I came away with:

  1. How to Pit and Peel your Avocados like a Boss. Like a Top Chef Master Boss.
  2. When you’re chopping a bunch of stuff, bring your cutting board to the pan to transfer your goods in one fell swoop.
  3. After blanching green beans in well-salted water, don’t rinse them under cold water. Simply spread them out on paper towels. They’ll cool quickly and will taste better because you won’t wash away the salt.
Blanched Green Beans

Blanched Green Beans

Mary Sue and Susan made a dish that knocked my socks off. To be accurate, they made many dishes that knocked my socks off, but this one in particular, I swooned over. Even more impressive — it’s a relatively healthy salad…in a loose sense of the term “salad”. Ok, so it has bacon in it, and it’s served on a fried tortilla, but it has enough greens in it for me to consider this a salad, mmkay?

These Bacon, Bean and Avocado Salad Tostadas have it all. They are crunchy and creamy, salty and acidic, smoky, tangy, fresh, and just plain satisfying.

The avocados in this dish play a big role in that satisfaction.

California Avocados

California Avocados

By the way, did you know that Hass avocados are pronounced the way they’re spelled? Hass not hoss. Like sassy molassy. I digress…

Marinated avocados

Marinated avocados

The avocados are marinated in a mixture of lime juice, EVOO, scallions and cilantro. They bring the decadence to this dish.

I’ve already made these tostadas twice since the Too Hot Tamales brought them into my life. They’re a game changer.

Smoky Bacon, Bean, and Avocado Tostadas

Bacon, Bean and Avocado Salad Tostadas from the Too Hot Tamales

Bacon, Bean and Avocado Salad Tostadas

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

These Bacon, Bean and Avocado Salad Tostadas have it all. They are crunchy and creamy, salty and acidic, smoky, tangy, fresh, and just plain satisfying. They’re a game changer. (Recipe created by chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger for the California Avocado Commission. Copyright © 2008, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger.)


  • 2 large ripe California Avocados, seeded, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 scallions, very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup trimmed green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 slices bacon, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Jalapeño chiles (red and green), stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz.) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 handful frisée
  • 4 (6-inch) corn tortillas


  1. Prepare the marinated avocados: in a medium mixing bowl, combine avocados with olive oil, lime juice, scallions, cilantro, and salt and pepper, to taste. Chill up to 30 minutes before serving.
  2. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan with a large pinch of salt. Cook green beans until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and scatter on a platter lined with paper towels. Set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, fry bacon in a skillet until crisp then drain on paper towels. Transfer a spoonful of bacon fat to a mixing bowl and add canola oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, salt, pepper and chiles. Whisk to form a vinaigrette.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine green beans, black beans, red kidney beans, frisée, and bacon. Pour on vinaigrette and gently toss to evenly coat.
  5. Fry up the tortillas until crisp.
  6. To serve, spread a layer of bean and bacon salad on each crispy tortilla. Top with marinated avocados and serve immediately.


Variation: Serve bean and bacon salad and Marinated California Avocados layered in a chilled martini glass. Garnish with tortilla chips.

park city, utah in the summer

Park City, Utah in the Summer


This post was published on KQED’s Bay Area Bites on July 31, 2012.

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