When you arrive home from a long day (or perhaps two long days and a long night), sometimes nachos and a brewski call your name. This adaptable recipe is from Cooks Illustrated. Of course nachos are healthier with salsa and guacamole. But if you just want chips and cheese, skip the salsa and guacamole and go directly to Nachos. You can even leave out the scallions and/or jalapeños for hard-core snacking. Melted cheddar, though, is clearly superior to Velveeta-in-a-jar.
If you are throwing a party and want some fancier nachos as a main course, I endorse Game Day Nachos from The New York Times.
½ small jalapeño, minced
¼ small onion (red, white, or yellow), peeled and root end removed
1 small clove garlic, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
¼ teaspoon table salt
pinch ground black pepper
2 teaspoons lime juice from 1 lime
2 small tomatoes (about ¾ pound), ripe, each cored and cut into eighths, or one (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
Pulse all ingredients except tomatoes in food processor until minced, about five 1-second pulses, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. Add tomatoes and pulse until roughly chopped, about two 1-second pulses. The salsa can be refrigerated, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days. Season with additional lime juice and salt to taste before serving.
2 small avocados, ripe, (preferably Haas)
1 tablespoon minced (preferably red) onion
1 small clove garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press
½ small jalapeño chile, minced (about 1 ½ teaspoons)
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon lime juice, from 1 lime
Halve 1 avocado, remove pit, and scoop flesh into medium bowl. Using fork, mash lightly with onion, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, and 1/8 teaspoon salt until just combined.
Halve and pit remaining avocado. Using a dinner knife, carefully make 1/2-inch cross-hatch incisions in flesh, cutting down to but not through skin. Using a soupspoon, gently scoop flesh from skin; transfer to bowl with mashed avocado mixture. Sprinkle lime juice over and mix lightly with fork until combined but still chunky. Adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary, and serve.
8 ounces tortilla chips
1 pound shredded cheddar cheese (4 cups)
2 large jalapeño chiles (¾ ounce each), sliced thin (about ¼ cup)
2 scallions, sliced thin
½ cup sour cream (4 ounces)
1 lime, cut into 6 wedges
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Spread half of chips in even layer in 13- by 9-inch baking dish or similar ovenproof platter; sprinkle evenly with 2 cups cheese and half of jalapeño slices. Repeat with remaining chips, cheese, and jalapeños. Bake until cheese is melted, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove nachos from oven, cool 2 minutes, then sprinkle with scallions. Along edge of nachos, drop scoops of guacamole, sour cream, and salsa. Serve immediately, passing lime wedges separately.