These nachos happen to be vegetarian. They also happen to be packed with vegetables, from cilantro to poblano peppers to sweet onion to red cabbage. But truly, all of that is beside the point.
When I make nachos, I play to win. I like powerful flavors, multiple sauces, lots of creaminess and plenty of crunch. I like to balance all of those elements carefully in every bite.
These nachos have got all that, because I've put a lot of thought into them. To say the least. Let's just say that someone who approaches the Super Bowl with even a modicum of interest in the football itself would not be able to compete for nachos mindshare with yours truly. As great minds will tell you, success comes from focusing long and hard on the nachos at hand. Please, taste for yourself—but I'm just sayin'.
All elements can be prepared a few hours in advance and held separately. Reheat beans and cheese sauce over low heat, and assemble nachos, just before serving.
- For the Cabbage
- 1 heaping cup shredded red cabbage
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- For the Beans
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 white onion, finely diced
- 1 poblano pepper, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 15-ounce cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed well
- Salt, to taste
- For the Cilantro Sauce
- 1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- One recipe cheese sauce for nachos
- 5 ounces tortilla chips
For the cabbage: Combine cabbage, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Toss to dissolve sugar and salt and coat cabbage with liquid. Let sit for at least one hour, stirring occasionally.
For the beans: Heat oil over medium-high heat in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot. Add onions and poblano and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste, chili powder and cumin and cook, stirring, one minute more. Add beans and cook until heated through and beginning to break down a bit, about 10 minutes. Mash beans against sides and bottom of pot with a wooden spoon and stir to combine all ingredients. Taste for salt. Cover and keep warm.
For the cilantro sauce: In a mini food processor, combine cilantro, garlic, lime juice, salt, and olive oil. Process until well combined. Set aside.
Prepare cheese sauce for nachos.
To assemble nachos, spread tortilla chips on a large platter. Top evenly with beans and then with cheese sauce. Pour off liquid from cabbage and dry cabbage between paper towels. Top nachos with cabbage. Drizzle cilantro sauce overtop. Serve warm.
Small food processor (optional)