Tortas, those quintessential Mexican sandwiches, are a staple of Mexico City. This particular sandwich combines elements found in different types of tortas to create a new delicious treat. At the heart of the torta are mushrooms or seitan simmered in a guajillo chile garlic sauce, giving a punch to the sandwich. This is topped with simple roasted poblano strips and the entire sandwich is bound together with a roasted garlic aioli sprinkled with a little black salt for an upscale touch.
The Roasted Garlic Aioli
10 unpeeled cloves of garlic, pan roasted
1/2 cup of vegan mayo
Juice of 2 limes
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Option: Black salt for garnish
The Filling and Toppings
1 poblano chile, pan roasted
4 guajillo chiles, rehydrated
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of water (reserved from rehydrating the chiles)
3/4 teaspoon of dried Mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoon of salt
3 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar (use regular white vinegar if you don’t have this)
2 1/2 cups of meatless strips or 3 cups of large-size chopped oyster mushrooms
1/2 cup of refried black beans
Option: 1/2 cup of shredded vegan cheese
2 bolillo or telera rolls
Option: Ciabatta rolls or small baguettes instead of bolillos or teleras
Timing: Pan-roast the garlic and chiles while you rehydrate the chiles. This way, the majority of ingredients come together at the same time.
In a dry pan, roast the whole garlic cloves and the poblano chile over medium heat. As the paper turns dark brown on the garlic, flip it and repeat on the other side. For the garlic, this should take 8 to 10 minutes. For the poblano, flip it after the skin fully blisters and blackens on one side and repeat this until the entire poblano has blackened. Peel the garlic and set it aside. Peel the poblano, cut it into strips, and set it aside.
“This is a quintessential technique called pan-roasting. It has two distinct advantages. First, it creates a flavor profile that contains elements of both oven-roasted and sauteed foods. Second, it means you don’t have to turn your oven on in the summer!”
Puree the garlic, vegan mayo, lime juice, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and set this aside.
“A classic aioli is just garlic, lemon juice, mayo, and sometimes salt, but for this powerhouse sandwich, a basic aioli just wouldn’t do. Hence the roasted garlic and stronger-tasting lime juice.”
While the garlic and poblanos are pan-roasting, rehydrate the chiles in a small pot of simmering water for about 15 minutes. Reserve the water and use when pureeing the chiles. Puree the chiles with 4 cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup of the reserved water, the Mexican oregano, salt, and white balsamic vinegar.
Transfer the sauce to a small pot and simmer the seitan or mushrooms in the sauce over medium heat for 10 minutes. If you need to add a splash of water to keep the sauce hydrated, then do so. Ultimately, the sauce should cook down so it coats the filling.
“This is one of my staple Mexican sauces. Guajillos make an outstanding chile base for a sauce. They have a slightly caramel, toasted flavor and are spicy, but not overly so. The garlic gives the sauce body and the vinegar brightens all the flavors. It’s perfect for pastas or for simmering other ingredients.”
Cut the bread in half. Pull out a small indentation in the top and bottom halves of the bread, creating shallow boats in which the ingredients can sit. Toast the bread. Spread the filling on the bottom pieces of bread and top with poblano strips. Spread the black beans and then the aioli on the top portions of bread and sprinkle it with black salt. Don’t close the sandwich because the black salt makes a nice presentation. For a more decadent version of this sandwich, sprinkle vegan cheese on top of the filling and toast the bottom part of the sandwich until the cheese melts.
“I usually make a double batch of filling and aioli so I can have leftovers for a quick meal later.”
Make It Low-fat and Low-sodium
Skip the aioli or use light silken tofu instead of the vegan mayo and do not use the optional vegan cheese. If you do it this way, the meal is incredibly low-fat. You can also omit the salt from the entirety of the recipe, though you will need to check the bread.
Toaster, Oven, or Pan
Spatula or Spoon