Friday Night Nachos

My husband is wonderful in many senses, but his joyful appreciation of my cooking is certainly high on the list. Usually when I ask for requests for meals, he says that whatever I can think of would be great. But he did have a request on a recent holiday weekend - nachos.

He said he wanted something very quick and easy to make so that we could all spend more time together and also he hadn't had nachos in ages. I'm putting this guide in here to remind you what we discovered - that if you make nachos with good ingredients, they are delicious and quick and fun! So this is just guidelines for how we like them with a few suggestions to get you going.

And on a Friday night, it's is really one of the quickest things I know.

Nacho Architecture

The key to good nachos, aside from really good ingredients, is careful architecture. Create a single layer of chips on the pan, only a single layer! Then make sure that a thin but closely knit layer of each subsequent ingredient covers almost all of the chips. Each bite should feature some of each flavor, so I've learned that you don't want heaps of things - just veils of savory treats. You won't need a great deal of each ingredient and that also ensures that the chips remain crisp and not sodden.


A single layer of chips in a half sheet pan will feed 3-4 people - or two starving, savage parents. The first time we made this, we ate the entire pan, and then lay around groaning. It had been a day. Afterwards, we make about a 3/4 sheet and don't quite finish it. Unless it's been a day.

Set your oven to broil. While it heats, chop four or five scallions, white parts and some of the green and set aside. Chop your favorite olives into thick slices.

Scatter over the chips maybe a cup of black beans (if you've made a pot of these earlier in the week, this is a great use for some leftovers). Don't neglect the edges!

On top of the chips, grate a mixture of Monterey Jack and your favorite cheddar cheese in a 2 to 1 ratio. For a fun sheet pan you may need about ounces of cheese. I wouldn't skimp on the cheese, but don't overwhelm the chips. The jack cheese melts beautifully and is creamy and the cheddar gives it some nip. Too much cheddar makes it bitter.

That is the bare bones version. On top of the cheese, I liberally dot mild jarred jalapenos over the top. I love these. They're like crunchy sour pickles.

Broil the nachos until the cheese is bubbling and melted, but don't push it until it gets dry. This will take about 2 minutes if that.

Once they're out of the oven, I add the cool ingredients: sliced olives, the chopped scallions. Then I serve it with two kinds of salsa: our favorite tomato-based and a fire-roasted tomatillo.

Instead of sour cream, we like plain non-fat Greek yogurt.

So each bite will hopefully have some combination of chewy cheese, the beans, crunchy jalapenos, salty olives, fresh scallions and lashings of salsas and the yogurt.




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