It would not be too much of a stretch to say that our move to Mexico was highly motivated by food. In fact, in the weeks leading up to our move, we suddenly felt inspired to eat every type of “Mexican food” we could get our hands on. Partially because we loved it and partially because we assumed that once living in Mexico we would be “ruined” and unable to enjoy any American versions of our favorite dishes.
However, now that we’re in Tulum, we realize that most of what we typically ate in the states isn’t even on the menu. Instead, we get to discover new favorites, dishes we have never even had the opportunity to experience an Americanized version of. Like these ooey, gooey, delicious open-faced sandwiches called Molletes. Our first experience with Molletes came from Anna’s school where they are an incredibly popular lunch item. Once Anna fell in love with them, and once we figured out how to light our oven, we were inspired to try them at home.
Molletes are such a quick and easy dish to prepare. They have become a weekly school-night meal for us. At the markets here we are able to buy Bolillos for less than two pesos each. These rolls with pointed ends are so common here, and the low price explains why all the torta shops in town serve their sandwiches on them. The first step is toasting the bread. We slice them in half lengthwise and toss them in the oven for a few minutes. Just enough to let the cut-side get a little crusty.
We then top them with frijoles negros, refried black beans, that we have heated while the rolls were toasting. We use prepared refried beans that we buy in pouches at the market, however, I am sure there are many delicious recipes available online for those who want to cook their own beans. Once the beans are spread across the rolls, the next step is to add the cheese. We have used several types of cheese on our Molletes, and the more cheese, the more amazing they get. Everything from a crumbly cheese, to a melty chihuahua, and most recently a combination of gouda and yellow jack-like cheese, has been delicious. The gouda was a surprise to find on our first shopping trip, but it turns out that about half of the cheese eaten in Mexico is gouda. Then pop them back in the oven long enough for the cheese to get melty on top.
Meanwhile, we chop up a quick Pico de Gallo. Sometimes we go really simple and just use chopped tomatoes, other times we add in onion, lime juice, and salt. For those who like heat, you could also add in some chopped peppers. Anna prefers her Molletes without the tomato garnish, but the rest of us really enjoy how the fresh tomato balances the richness of the cheese and beans.
There is something really satisfying about the Molletes. They are an inexpensive, filling, and easy meal, with a crunchy gooey quality that is similar to good cheesy garlic bread. Pretty much Mexican comfort food. Anna really says it best though… “it is EXCELLENT”!