I challenged myself this week to make a truly fast, easy, cheap dinner from what I had in my pantry and refrigerator, and I found myself falling back on an old standby from my post-college days: taquitos.
These little corn tortillas filled and rolled into crispy cigar-shaped treats bring back great memories of when dinner was often some sort of easy-to-make snack food enjoyed with a group of friends.
I find taquitos fun to assemble. How many dishes can you say that about? The tortillas are rolled around a filling — in this case canned black beans and corn, grated cheese, salsa and dry seasoning — baked until crisp and then served with whatever sides you have on hand: salsa, sour cream, fresh cilantro, diced onions and tomatoes.
You can get fancier by making a more complicated filling with seasoned meats or seafood, and fresh seasonings and spices, such as scallions or peppers. I made this a bit more complicated than it had to be by mixing my own dried spice blend and whipping up a homemade fresh salsa of mango and onion.
If you’d rather, use your favorite dry taco seasoning and a jar of salsa.
Many people fry taquitos. They are delicious that way, but that can get messy. I prefer to simply roll them, place them on a sheet pan, brush them with olive oil and bake them until crispy.
Some seal the edges of the tortillas with egg wash, or use toothpicks or skewers to hold them tight. That’s important if you plan to fry them, but if you are baking them, just fit them snugly together on the sheet pan, and they should stay tightly rolled.
One caveat: This recipe makes 24 taquitos. If you won’t eat the entire batch right away, it’s best to store the tortillas and filling separately in the refrigerator and bake them as you go. This makes them a great option if not everyone eats at the same time at your house. Once they’re baked, they should be eaten right away so they retain their crispness.
I find that about four taquitos per person with a generous amount of salsa and toppings creates enough for a light supper. If you have the ingredients to make a veggie-filled salad or a vegetable side dish to serve with them, go ahead.