As you juggle the various Tex-Mex possibilities you might serve to guests at the annual Cinco De Mayo shindig this weekend, you’ll probably think about chili, you’ll think about make-your-own tacos, you’ll probably think about black bean dip and guacamole. All easy to make – even make ahead – and awesome fare for a crowd.
You might rule out serving nachos though. Maybe you think of the cheese-covered chips as junk food beyond repair, salty chips and artificial dip only eaten in the dark of a movie theater. Or maybe you think of them as a TV-watching snack for one, artfully made in the microwave.
But actually, nachos are fabulous party food. People love them. And they’re easy. All I did to make these was scatter sturdy-ish chips (I used Food Should Taste Good sweet potato flavor) on a couple of parchment-covered baking sheets and grate tons of fresh cheddar on top. Then I added some refried beans (you could add spicy ground meat, pickled jalepeños, or chicken as well), and put the baking sheets in the oven fifteen minutes before I wanted to serve them.
When the cheese was nice and melty, I started lifting the nachos off the sheets and onto a big platter, alternating the chips with my toppings: avocado and seasoned tomatoes (but you could throw in sour cream or scallions or olives too). The pile-up is messy, but the prep is surprisingly simple, as you just saw.
And the result is totally crowd-pleasing.
From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Serves 4-6, easily doubled or tripled if you’ve got oven space
I’ve pared the nacho down to a mimimalist form here. Feel free to add more of your favorite toppings, such as: sautéed ground meat or chopped green chiles (with the refried beans) or sour cream or scallions (dolloped on with the tomatoes and avocado).
5.5 ounce bag of Food Should Taste Good or other sturdy chips (super thin ones can break when you pile up the nachos)
6 ounces freshly shredded cheddar cheese
1 medium-sized plum tomato, cut in a 1/4-inch dice
juice of 1 lime
1 clove garlic, minced with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup refried beans or mashed black beans
Preheat over to 375°F. Scatter the chips in one layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Dollop large spoonfuls of refried beans across the cheese-covered chips.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and oozing.
While the cheese is melting, mash the avocado in a small bowl with 1/2 the minced garlic and half the lime juice. Taste for salt, adding more as needed. Add the rest of the garlic to a small bowl with the diced tomato. Squeeze on the rest of the lime juice and mix. Taste for salt, adding more as needed.
Lift about a quarter of the chips onto a large serving platter. Dollop with mashed avocado and sprinkle with the diced tomatoes. Place another layer of the chips and dollop with more avocado and tomatoes. Repeat until you’ve used up all the chips, and finish with tomatoes and avocado. Eat as soon as possible.