Okay, I know grownups probably aren’t even supposed to admit to eating nachos, except at superbowl parties. (Although, any of y’all who see “nachos” and go “FAT FAT FAT I’m not even going to READ!” might dare to take a look; these are very calmed down on the fat-and-calories front.)
Remember in college and young-adult-hood, when every time you went to the local dive bar with your friends and no one had enough money (or what you had you were determined to spend on as much beer as possible) to buy real food, so you got a giant plate of those fairly horrific nachos, with tortilla chips and loads of cheese that would soak through the chips, and salsa and guacamole and sour cream, and maybe you’d dare someone to eat 8 slices of jalapeno peppers and say you’d buy her another beer if she could do it and not reach for her water glass for a whole minute afterwards, and she did it and didn’t show her agony even though her mouth was on fire, not as much for the free beer as to show she was a real bad-ass?
The thing is, that icky plate of soggy fat-laden nachos can be healthed up quite a bit with a little effort and can even become a really good vegetarian-type dinner. In a hurry.
Bean and Cheese Supernachos
Cover a plate–a non-huge one, preferably–with a single layer of tortilla chips. These can be your regular ordinary chips or choice, baked (less fat) if you choose, or even homemade (baked or fried), though I’ve never tried this. (The single layer part is key for any hope at making this a healthy dinner as opposed to a dressed up snackfest. You can make a really filling dinner of supernachos with maybe 8 or 9 total chips.)
Wait, could we please digress for a moment? My favorite of those “Real Men of Genius” Bud Light commercials: Mr. Giant Taco Salad Inventor:
And…we’re back. We were talking about remembering that we want this to be, at least to some extent, a healthy and body-feeding whole-food dinner kind of thing.
Okay, you have your single layer of chips on the plate.
Over the chips, layer 1/2 cup (or more, it’s your dinner, your appetite, and your calorie count–but these are non-fat, high protein, and really good for you) of black or other cooked dried beans. Again, these can be out of the can (drain first) or something you’ve cooked previously and store as a regular kitchen staple. (Black beans, by the way, seem to cause less of a problem with…let’s just say, noxious methane emissions, FWIW…)
Sprinkle beans with a little cumin and garlic powder; you can add some red pepper or chili powder to this if you’d like. Sprinkle with chopped or sliced jalapenos if you’d like…you can actually add any veggies you want here, but I tend to prefer my nacho veggies cold in the pico de gallo instead of heated over the chips, where they risk making them soggy. (Er…if it’s not Monday, and you’re not avoiding meat, this would also be where you’d spread some of last night’s chili or Saturday night’s shredded rotisserie chicken remains around too.)
Over this, sprinkle a reasonable amount of (organic and hormone-free) grated cheese, of whatever kind you like that melts well. Again, the more cheese, the more saturated fat, so watch that commercial again and make your choice. (Or just because it’s funny.) And the beans with their seasoning honestly make the extra cheese not as needed for texture and flavor.
Heat in the microwave for about 30 seconds, check to see if the cheese is melted, and then heat additionally at 15 second increments until it looks right. (Don’t just stick it in there for a minute on high, or you’ll have burny bubbly cheese on one side and cold unmelted on the other–trust me on this!)
Serve with lots of really good veggie-laden pico de gallo–i.e. fresh salsa you can either make yourself or buy for way too much money at your local Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s or probably any grocery store, or just cut up some tomatoes and peppers and onions into small chunks and toss them with just enough jarred salsa to hold them together and some chopped cilantro–guacamole, and if you must have something creamy and sour, try a little nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
Now, obviously, if you want to really make this a healthy lovely meal with nothing for anyone to complain about–you’d leave out the two worst offenders, which are of course the tortilla chips and cheese, without which this obviously wouldn’t be nachos at all. But if you wanted, you could skip the chips and put rice on that plate instead, and have a really good black-beans-and-rice kind of thing, and it’s almost as fast as the nacho version if you have some already-cooked rice around. Or you could compromise and put the rice-and-beans, or just the beans, into small corn tortillas for bean tacos, or larger wheat tortillas for burritos.
But there’s something about those nachos…
Pass the jalapenos, please.