For Texans and non-Texans alike! One of the easiest "what on earth are we going to eat?" meals there is.
You know those nights when (1) you know you need to eat dinner (2) you know you want something tasty and (3) you know you have NO idea what it’s going to be? Enter nachos. In addition to being delicious, easily scaled to satisfy the appetites of however many people you’re feeding, and satisfying, it is really, really fun to eat.
Since we know that all foods fit and have a place of their own, I’ll briefly touch on the fact that this meal provides carbohydrates/grains, protein, fats, and color (veggies in this case) just as well as many other meals. You can make these nachos your own, and I'll give you some ideas for how to do just that!
The fun with this is that you can omit any/all ingredients apart from the chips, beans, and cheese and make it your own!
When we make nachos, typically it’s to serve two adults. We use a standard-size baking sheet, line it with foil or parchment paper, and get ready to roll. The parchment, I’ve found, works especially well because it has nonstick properties that keep the melting cheese from sticking to it—making for the optimal eating experience AND the easiest cleanup! Foil works well, too, I’d just recommend spraying the foil with the nonstick cooking spray of your choice before adding any food.
Use whatever you have!
Tortilla chips: Sky is the limit here! Blue corn, white corn, lime, strips, triangles, you name it! If you don’t have tortilla chips on hand, you can even break up taco shells (we all know they tend to break pretty easily, right?), chalupas, or crisp up some tortillas in the oven with nonstick spray/oil and salt. These serve as the base for your nachos.
Cheese: Use whatever you have! I used cheddar because it’s my personal go-to, but certainly Monterrey jack, mozzarella, Colby jack, or any shredded Mexican cheese would work beautifully. If you want to get a little bit more creative, try adding some feta for a salty flavor punch.
Toppings/Dips: In keeping with everything already mentioned, you can choose whatever appeals to you here! Vegetarian (or don’t have meat on hand)? Beans & cheese! Pescatarian or feeling a little coastal inspiration? Shrimp + feta + shredded cabbage! Watching a game at home and wanting something kind of festive? Taco meat + cheddar + guacamole + sour cream! There are so, so many delicious combinations you can create based on what you have, what sounds good, and how much time you have. Having at least 2-3 toppings and 2 dips is my personal favorite—this helps the nachos feel like a veritable meal.
Topping Ideas: Ground beef with taco seasoning, grilled chicken, grilled shrimp, beans (black, pinto, refried black or pinto, ranch style), chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, bell peppers and onions (raw or sautéed), shredded cabbage, avocado chunks, green onion, cilantro, grilled corn, etc.
Dip/Drizzle Ideas: Try salsa, guacamole (homemade or store-bought), Cholula, sour cream (you can dollop regular sour cream on top or use it as a dip OR try out the Mexican Sour Cream pictured below—it’s deliciously creamy and you can even drizzle it atop your nachos for a fun presentation.
Just the Easiest Nachos
Now, the fun part! Assembly. It’s helpful to spread the chips out across the baking sheet to see that it looks like enough to me—enough to cover the baking sheet in a single layer.
Then, if using refried beans, empty your beans into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave lightly, just enough to warm them a bit and make them spreadable. An offset/icing spatula can help here, as it helps you spread a thin layer of beans onto most, if not all, of the chips. If you’re using whole beans, go ahead and open the can, rinse the canning liquid off of your beans, and drain excess water before beginning to spoon the whole beans evenly over the chips.
Next, the cheese! Now, arguably, we are building something here—so we need a glue of sorts. Is it a cheesy analogy? Of course. Cheese is that glue! I find it’s helpful to sprinkle some sliced or shredded cheese on the tortilla chips remember, they have beans on them already) and THEN continue with the toppings of your choice. Follow with more cheese!
In case you’ve not made nachos before or are curious, this is how I layered the nachos in the photo:
Cheese (part one)
Cheese (part two)
Top with guacamole, a drizzle of sour cream, and nestle in those salsa bowls. We had a “his” and “hers” because we like different salsas!
In the recipe, I’ve added amounts for reference so that you can ballpark/have a starting place. This was enough for two adults on this particular night as the main dish at dinner!
1-2 cups tortilla chips
1/2 can refried beans (seasoned with a few shakes of garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin)
~1 1/2-2 cups of shredded cheese
3/4 lb ground beef (seasoned with taco seasoning)
1 bell pepper, sliced in thin strips
1/2 white onion, sliced in thin strips
1 large avocado
1-2 Tbsp chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic
Pinch of salt
1 1/2- 2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 garlic clove, smashed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup plus 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano/Parmesan cheese