Rajas, strips of roasted and peeled poblano peppers mixed with sautéed onions and tart Mexican crema, are the star of this vegetarian sandwich that’s zesty, tangy, and packs some modest heat. Combined with a smear of refried beans, Monterey Jack cheese, and tomatillo salsa in a split roll, they make for a sandwich with surprising flavors and textures.

What to buy: Traditional tortas are made with either crusty rolls called bolillos or softer buns called teleras, available in markets with a good selection of Latin American foods. We’ve found that brioche or soft sandwich buns make fine substitutes.

  • Yield: 4 sandwiches
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Total: 45 mins 
  • Active: 30 mins  

Ingredients (12)

  • 4 poblano peppers
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup good-quality refried beans
  • 1/2 cup tomatillo salsa
  • 4 Mexican torta rolls or bolillo rolls, split and toasted
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup crema or sour cream
  • Handful fresh cilantro leaves, torn
  • 2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 1 large avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced


  1. Place the poblanos directly over the flame of a gas burner and cook, turning occasionally, until blackened on all sides, about 10 minutes. Alternatively, broil them, turning occasionally, until blackened on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside for 15 minutes. Peel the charred skin from the poblanos, discard the stems and seeds, and slice the peppers into 1/2-inch strips.
  2. In a frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and sauté, stirring, until browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the poblanos.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, stir together the refried beans and 1/4 cup of the salsa. Stir until warm.
  4. To assemble the sandwiches, spread the bean mixture evenly over the bottom halves of the rolls. Top with the poblano mixture, then sprinkle evenly with the cheese (you can melt the cheese under the broiler at this point if you’d like). Dollop a little crema over the top, then add a drizzle of the remaining salsa, some cilantro, and the shredded lettuce. Spread the avocado slices evenly on the top half of the rolls. Close the sandwiches, pressing down to compress them.
  5. Serve as-is or toast in a panini press or in a hot oven for a few minutes if you like.