Nachos, my low-brow delicacy of choice, bring back fond memories of my former jobs in food service. In high school, my first “real job” was working in a concessions stand at a little league baseball park with my best friends. After school and on weekends, we giggled and bumped hips as we poured glugs of processed cheese into plastic compartments.
We handed out countless nachos, microwaved hot dogs and Gatorades to hoards of hungry boys, taking breaks behind the corner to gleefully dip our own round and salty chips into that artificially orange cheese. We knew it was bad, but back then, our waistlines never expanded and we were far more focused on the cute field maintenance guys than on our consumption of trans fats. Those were the days.
Then in college (well, just after college), I got a job at my favorite bar. It was cozy on the inside, with just ten tables, and had a nice patio with lush landscaping that shielded the drinkers from views of campus. It was a little oasis with cheap well drinks, happy hour specials and the best nachos in town.
These nachos were a major step up from the concession stand nachos, considering that they were made with real cheese and vegetables, and then cooked to bubbling, golden perfection in a conveyor oven. We would often order ourselves nachos during our shifts, sneaking into the back room for a few moments of cheesy relief while those drunk, demanding college students waited for their next round of beers.
I learned a couple of things about nacho making during my tipsy after-hour experiments in that bar’s kitchen, namely that you can do no wrong as long as you use enough cheese. Now is not the time to skimp! While I love to dunk plain tortilla chips into dips, a naked tortilla chip plucked from a plate of nachos is a disappointing chip indeed. You can use more than one cheese for a more complex flavor, and be sure to cook the nachos long enough that the cheese gets bubbly and golden.
Pick a theme for the veggies, too. Go for standard Mexican nachos with fresh chopped tomatoes, jalapeños and onions, or put an Italian spin on them with mushrooms, olives and bell peppers (try adding some freshly minced garlic, too). Serve your nachos with mandatory sides of homemade guacamole made with creamy avocados from Mexico and salsa, and maybe some sour cream.
My version of nachos here doesn’t exactly qualify as a gourmet meal or a healthy one, but it could certainly be worse. Make these for a special occasion, like the Super Bowl, or when no amount of kale salad will satisfy your cravings for cheesy, salty goodness. If anyone asks why you’re eating nachos, you can blame me.
Vegetarian Blue Corn Nachos with Homemade Guacamole
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 2 to 4 1x
- Category: Appetizer
- Cuisine: Mexican
Irresistible nachos made with blue corn chips, cheddar and feta cheese, and a colorful assortment of vegetables (roasted red peppers, jalapeños and red onion). Amounts given below are approximate; you can eyeball everything here.
- Blue corn chips (I like Target’s Archer Farms organic chips)
- 1 ½ cups shredded raw cheddar or Jack cheese
- ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese
- ¼ cup chopped red onion
- ⅓ cup chopped roasted red pepper
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and membranes removed, finely chopped
- 2 ripe avocados from Mexico
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed through a garlic press
- ½ teaspoon salt (add more to taste)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ to 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
- 3 medium radishes, top and bottom ends removed and finely sliced (or chopped onion, see note)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place handfuls of chips on the baking sheet and distribute evenly, minimizing the gaps between chips.
- Sprinkle generously and evenly with shredded cheese. Sprinkle veggies over the cheese, then sprinkle on the feta. Repeat to build layers if you’re feeding a crowd. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 15 minutes for a single layer or 20 minutes for multiple layers. Serve immediately on a heat-safe surface (transfer the parchment paper to a serving platter or at minimum, warn eaters of the hot baking surface).
- While the nachos are baking, make the guacamole. Slice the avocados in half length-wise, running your knife around the pit. Twist the halves in opposite directions, then pull apart the halves. Dislodge the pits and use a large spoon to scoop the flesh into a medium bowl. Sprinkle with lime juice, then mash the avocado with a large fork or potato masher. Stir in the garlic, salt, cilantro, coriander, jalapeño (if using) and chopped radishes. Serve immediately.
- Guacamole recipe adapted from Rick Bayless via Food and Wine.
- If you’re making nachos for a crowd: pile up the chips, cheese and toppings in layers on the baking sheet. The quantities given for the guacamole yield a modest amount, enough for two to four people. Multiply the quantities as necessary.
- If you want your nachos to stay warm for a while after baking, you might have better luck baking them in a large stoneware baking dish, oven-safe serving plate or cast iron pan. Cookie sheets don’t retain heat for long.
- I used radishes for some pungent heat in this guacamole, but you could substitute finely chopped white onion if you prefer. Rick Bayless recommends finely chopping ¼ of a small white onion, then rinsing the chopped onion under water to mellow the flavor. Shake the onions well to get rid of excess water before mixing it into the avocado.
- To store the guacamole for later: press plastic wrap over the surface to help prevent oxidation. Guacamole is best eaten sooner rather than later.
▸ Nutrition Information
Disclaimer: This is a working partnership with Avocados from Mexico and Muy Bueno Cookbook and I was compensated for recipe development. Opinions expressed are my own, always. The truth is I love avocados!
Laura (Tutti Dolci)
Do these qualify as breakfast food? Totally craving!
I could eat these any time of day and I love blue corn chips. I really love the addition of radishes to the guacamole–I’ll have to try that. Great post!
Thank you, Flavia. Do try radishes in your guacamole, especially if you can find some radishes with a lot of heat. I was disappointed that these didn’t have a bit more kick to them!
We occasionally were allowed to have nacho night when I was a kid and it was THE.BEST. To this day I love them but rarely have them. With all these football parties going on soon, these would be the perfect thing to serve!
Ohhh fake cheese… yes, those were the days! I don’t know why I even liked that stuff. I remember going to the movies, at which my mum would never let us buy concession food because it was so overpriced, and being super jealous of the people walking in with the nacho and cheese trays. Now when I see the same thing, I just look and shudder at the thought! Your nachos on the other hand, look fantastic! I’m all about salsa so I’d be loading them up with plenty of that as well!
Oh geeze, nachos with guacamole is the shiz! These look lovely!
Oh, the fond memories of first jobs! I love the radishes in the guacamole…what a great touch! I love these.
Not many things in life make me happier than a giant plate of nachos.
Truer words never spoken. I feel the same.
Those are the best looking nachos I’ve ever seen… I’m a big fan :)
Memories, I used to love that fake cheese – remember Velveeta. What the heck is it anyway? Nachos are so much fun to eat, especially with a good chip to goody ratio. Yours look very ‘high brow’. :)
I don’t know what’s in Velveeta, but did you ever mix Rotel tomatoes with melted Velveeta cheese? I’m craving a non-processed version of that now. :)
Your nachos looks so yummy and healthy. Wish I had a bite.
Nachos are THE best! Yours look perfect, Kate.
Yum face! These look delicious. I bet bleu cheese and guac go together quite well! Lovely job, friend.
Oh, nachos! Everything’s better with melted cheese on it, fake or not! Radishes are my favorite too. Never thought I’d see these two favorites together though!
I based that radish guacamole off some amazing guacamole I tried recently at a local Mexican restaurant. My radishes didn’t have as much bite as theirs, but it was still delicious! Hope you’ll try the radish guac soon.
Wow this looks absolutely amazing! I must try asap and its healthy.
Jamie @ Thrifty Vegg
Delicious! Guacamole is one of my favorite things!
Okay, those nachos look like the exact opposite of lowbrow to me! I would absolutely eat them for dinner–although probably with a can of black beans scattered around too. :)
Dan and Kristien
Those nachos look totally amazing. The feta is a really fun and interesting twist, too. Definitely gives it more of a punch than your average mild and boring nachos.
sarah @ two tarts
I regularly make nachos for dinner! ha! I love them. And you’re right – this is NOT the time to skimp on cheese. A bare nacho chip is a sad chip indeed.
There aren’t a lot of things i miss about eating a dairy free diet, but cheese + nachos is one of them. Sweet baby! These look delicious.
I adore nachos with real melted cheddar so, so much. Love the addition of all the veggies and your recollections of restaurant and bar work.
Oh, yum! I love nachos so much but when you eat them in a restaurant they’re so much worse. Yours look great because they’re packed with veggies. I’ve been seeing a lot of nacho recipes with radishes, which sounds very intriguing. I will definitely try these.
I loved these! And so did my husband! He was craving nachos and I was craving light and healthy – these were a perfect fit! To add a bit of protein – I took a can of black beans and processed them with some salsa and put on top of the chips. My 1 year-old even gobbled these up! Thanks for the post!
Thanks, Andrea! I’m glad you all enjoyed the nachos. Your black bean and salsa topping sounds amazing!
I’ve been craving nachos all week! Just haven’t been able to pop into the store near uni until today. Couldn’t find blue corn chips in any of the main chains in Edinburgh (pity because they’re everywhere in Toronto). Anyways, this recipe is fantastic! Added some olives to the veg layer because I’m in love with them and opted out on the radishes since they’re one of the only foods (next to mustard) that I refuse to eat. Also added some red onion to the guac. :) Fantastic!!! My flatmates were hesitant to eat them when I offered up my left overs and they ended up eating everything!
Glad you and your flatmates enjoyed the nachos, Nikki! I can’t believe they were hesitant to eat nachos… now they know better! :)
Great recipe. Love the touch of feta, wasn’t sure about it but it was a great addition. Me and my gf were picking at the cheese on the plate when we were finished. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks, Mike! Glad you enjoyed the nachos! I love adding feta to Mexican dishes. It’s similar to cotija cheese, a crumbly traditional Mexican cheese.
Yummy – easy to pull together quickly after church-before game time! Not a radish in sight :( yet it was delicious ~ will definitely make this again and again.
Thanks, Jackie! Glad you enjoyed the nachos!
p.s. – I did add 1/3 c black beans with the veggies, thanks to ‘comments’. . .wish I had noticed the suggestion of olives (sigh). . .next time!
lovely…..dying to try….