Hangover Molletes

Welcome to the sapphic table, a series of (hopefully!) unfussy seasonal recipes for your farmers market, your CSA bounty — or your grocery store. Today we’re making molletes, a Mexican open-faced bean and cheese sandwich that’s perfect for summer mornings, summer evenings, or just for when you’re missing your friends.


The thing about these molletes — a Mexican open-faced bean and cheese sandwich with fresh vegetable salsa and sliced avocado — is that they are not about hangovers at all.

Now, I realize that I named this post “hangover molletes.” For my 30th birthday, my closest friends and drove to the vineyards on Long Island for a weekend of sharing as many rosé and white wine tastings as possible, playing dirty scrabble by a fireplace, chilly east coast sunset beaches, and somehow randoming upon a local strawberry festival (how??). In the mornings, our group of five would pile into the kitchen to nurse our hangovers. And that was when I was introduced to molletes. Crusty bread lightly buttered at its golden brown edges, saucy black beans seasoned in such a way you will dream about them long after they are gone, cheese to the brim, fresh vegetable salsa, and rich wedges of avocado delicately piled on top. These sandwiches are not about hangovers, they are about friendship.

I couldn’t tell you the last time I needed a hangover cure, to be honest. But lately, I have been missing those friends. We live spread apart now, which happens when you get older and life isn’t defined by late nights pounding through New York City streets and laughter now gets shared in hasty text messages between work meetings instead of last call at the club. My birthday is in June, somehow it is already August, but summer has always been our season. And so we return to molletes, cutely named because I thought “I Miss My Friends Wahhhh!” wouldn’t get as many clicks on a post.

In the years since they were first made for me, I’ve discovered that there is really never a bad time for crisp bread that will make a delicious crackle once you bite in, velvety savory beans, and sweet tomatoes, corn, or bell peppers. Molletes are a deserving brunch food for any occasion (in fact they are often served with a fried egg on top, if that’s your thing), but they also make a filling vegetarian dinner for any summer night that you intend to spend watching TV on your couch or reading a book on your porch. It can be easily scaled up for a crowd or down to a single serving. I do recommend playing your music loud while you’re cooking it — or maybe FaceTime a friend and think of me.

We are doing things slightly differently this week. Traditionally for Sapphic Table installments, there’s a core recipe (or recipes) that I’ve adapted; set recipes are how I’ve best learned how to cook. However, I was taught molletes on my feet and then learned some tricks from the internet later. In place of canned refried beans, I use How Sweet Eats’s Saucy Black Beans which are cooked on a stovetop with onion and green pepper until the beans break down and become ridiculously lush. Molletes are traditionally made on Mexican bolillo rolls, but I’ve never lived someplace where bolillos are common, so I’ve adjusted to ciabatta or whatever crusty bread I can find at the store. As I mentioned earlier, they can be topped with eggs if that is your breakfast sandwich mood. Corn is untraditional and not a necessity, but c’mon — have you ever had fresh corn off the cob in August?? Exactly.

“Hangover” Molletes

Serves two

Ingredients for Molletes

Ingredients for Black Beans

1 can black beans (14 ounce can), drained and rinsed
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup diced green pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Salt
Black pepper
Red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chicken stock (vegetable stock also works if you’re keeping vegetarian)
1/2 tablespoon lime juice

Ingredients for Salsa

1/2 cup diced green pepper
1/2 cup diced red onion
3/4 cup diced cherry tomatoes
2 teaspoons chopped cilantro

Ingredients for Sandwich Assembly 

Crusty bread for two sandwiches (bolillo rolls are traditional, I often use ciabatta)
1-2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 ear of corn, shucked and kernels removed (or roughly 3/4 cup corn kernels, if you’re not working with fresh)
1 avocado, sliced

*Note: Never shucked and cut off your own corn kernels? My favorite website for learning basic How To’s will always be The Kitchn, and here they are on how to shuck corn and the best ways to cut kernels off the cob.

Directions for Molletes

In a saucepan over medium heat, add the black beans, onion, green pepper, garlic, chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt and red pepper flakes to taste, and a few generous grinds of black pepper. Add stock and lime juice, stir everything all together. Simmer the bean mixture, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes. It should slightly bubble, but not reach a boil.

Stir occasionally and notice as the mixture begins to reduce and thicken. You can also speed this process up at the end, as the beans soften, by mashing them slightly with a fork while they cook. After the allotted time, the beans should reach desired texture (I prefer mine chunkier with whole beans remaining, you can also mash them until completely smooth). Set aside to cool.

As the beans cook, cut up your vegetables for salsa if you haven’t yet. Toss them all together in a bowl, set aside.

Brush butter on the cut sides of your bread — if you don’t have a brush, drizzling also works just fine — and place bread, buttered side up, on a baking sheet. Broil until bread is slightly toasted, about one minute. The goal here is firm up the bread so that it can hold up to the bean mixture, so don’t worry about it being overly browned just yet. It’s going back into the oven after we’re done.

Remove from broiler. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees. Spread bean mixture evenly to the edges of the bread, followed by cheese, and then corn kernels.  Put back into oven until the cheese is fully melted to your liking and the bread has finished toasting, for me that’s usually another 10 minutes. Slice your avocado.

Top each mollete with salsa and avocado slices. Serve with fried eggs or hot sauce if that’s your thing. Devour.

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Carmen Phillips

Carmen is Autostraddle's Editor-in-Chief and a Black Puerto Rican femme/inist writer. She claims many past homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Buffalo, NY. There were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow. You can find her on twitter, @carmencitaloves.

Carmen has written 714 articles for us.

7 Comments

  1. I can confirm that “hangover” got an instant click from me, although “I miss my friends Waaah” would probably have worked, but later on in the day. Right now, needs must.

  2. I love these recipe for hangover molletes! The saucy black beans look so flavorful, and the addition of corn and avocado makes them the perfect summer sandwich. I also like that the Carmenshares some personal stories about how this recipe reminds her of her friends. It makes the recipe feel more special and inviting.

    I’m definitely going to try making these molletes soon. I think they would be perfect for a lazy weekend brunch or a light summer dinner. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

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