You hope that no Texas Mayor will ever try to emulate the New York Mayor and regulate portion control. Bless his heart, Mayor Bloomberg had good intentions when he attempted to restrict soda pop sizes. Just in case the food police attempt a takeover of any Lone Star restaurants, though, hide the nachos because they cause the eating nannies to drink heavily. Nachos are full of fat, calories, and comfort. Like potato chips, it is near impossible to eat just one.
At first glance, nachos appear to be the perfect vegetarian junk food. The basic ingredients include fried tortillas, cheese, sliced peppers and maybe some salsa, refried beans, and sour cream. However, some misguided people cook their beans in lard or think that ground-up meat or shredded chicken are essential components. Therefore, we need a vegetarian version.
I’ll fess up that when needing some immediate stress relief, I’ve piled chips on a plate, smothered them in cheese, and nuked the concoction. Although it tasted ok and made me feel better, nachos done fast do not taste much better than the movie-theater version. There has to be a better way.
Surprisingly, better nachos are simple and almost as fast. I like to use fresh jalapeños peppers as they assume a lovely bright green when lightly broiled, making these look like cute little appetizers. Serve your “extras” on the side and you have a quick and satisfying snack that is good enough for company while being easy enough to make just for you. This “recipe” does not include measurements because quantity depends entirely on the number and hunger level of the eaters.
Buy a bag of round tortilla chips from the store. The thin versions will not work well, as the chip must support the nacho toppings. If you really want to show your love, use the Texas-shaped tortilla chips available at HEB and be sure to select a bag that hasn’t been tossed around too much. If you are terribly ambitious, slice some corn tortillas into triangles and fry them in corn oil.
Shred some sharp cheddar vegetarian cheese.
Fresh is best. Slice into thin rounds or mince for a different look. If you prefer, cut out the seeds before slicing.
These are optional. Make your own or heat up a can of store-bought vegetarian refried beans. Pinto beans are more traditional, but black beans will work just fine.
- Have all your garnishes, ingredients, and serving dishes ready as these cook up quickly once you start.
- Preheat your oven to a low broil.
- Select the flatter chips. Spread out over a sheet of wax or parchment paper.
- If desired, spread about 1/2 T of warmed beans on each chip. Sprinkle about 1 T of shredded cheese over each chip (extra cheese will fall on your paper to save for the next batch). Top each chip with a jalapeño slice or two, or sprinkle some minced jalapeño on top. Transfer decorated chips to a cookie sheet placing them in a single layer.
- Place the nachos a few inches under the broiler and cook until the cheese melts and the chips just begin to brown. This won’t take long.
- Serve immediately with garnishes. Eat while still warm. Feel better.
You can make the garnishes and prepare the ingredients a few hours ahead of cooking time, but do not assemble until right before cooking.