Whole-food Potato Nachos! Crispy potatoes piled high with dairy-free cheese sauce, peppers, black beans and guac! Gluten-Free and Vegan. Sometimes, recipe inspiration happens at the weirdest times. Usually, it’s right before I fall asleep and a thought will jolt me out of my bed so that I can write it down before it slips from my mind. It seems only fitting that thoughts of food would invade my subconscious as I’m about to start dreaming.
But these bad-boy nachos came to me last week during my morning commute. I was day dreaming about my March Madness bracket that I reluctantly filled out for my office pool (read: BL filled it out for me), which got me thinking about sports, which got me thinking about football, which naturally got me thinking about my chili cheese sauce, and then BAM! Why not do nachos? Potato nachos! Same cheese sauce, different toppings.
And so, the whole-food potato nacho plate was born.
These are nacho average nachos (see what I did there?). First off, no chips! You won’t even miss them when you realize they’ve been replaced with crispy potato wedges. A much healthier base for layering all the toppings.
I originally intended to do a sweet potato nacho here instead of regular potatoes, but I just couldn’t get them crispy enough without having to use a lot of oil. Faux-baking sweet potatoes was also an idea, but in my two test batches, about half of the potatoes were crispy enough, the others were too mushy. You really need crispy potatoes for these nachos to work so in a last-ditch effort I tried pan cooking regular potatoes, and it worked like a charm.
The secret to crispy potatoes is of course, a cast iron pan. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. My cast iron pan was one of my best kitchen investments. For $30, this pan makes the best seared tofu, caramelized onions, and of course, crispy potatoes.
What I love most about these nachos is that are are made entirely out of whole foods. Yup, from the base (potatoes) to the cheese sauce (cashews and peppers) to the toppings (beans, more peppers, and salsa), there isn’t one ‘processed’, fake food on here. How many nacho platters can say that?
To keep the potatoes crisp and toppings fresh, I would recommend making these in batches as you need them. If you’re preparing these for a crowd, pre-make everything ahead of time and just heat up the potatoes before serving. I turned the leftovers into breakfast burrito filling the next morning: scramble with eggs (or tofu), cover in more cheese sauce and salsa, and tuck into a large burrito. Like the best hangover food without the requisite hangover.
- 3 cups diced potatoes
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. cumin
- ⅓ cup cashews, soaked at least two hours
- ½ orange pepper, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup dairy-free milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
- ¼ tsp. garlic powder
- 1 cup cooked black beans, (if canned, rinsed and drained)
- ½ cup pico de gallo
- 1 red pepper, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
- Heat a cast iron pan to medium-high heat for a few minutes until very hot. Add oil and cook for 30 seconds. Add potatoes to the sizzling pan and sprinkle with salt/pepper and cumin. Cook, flipping occasionally, until crispy on all sides, about 15 minutes.
- While the potatoes are cooking, make the cheese sauce. Place the cashews, orange pepper, milk, chili powder, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt/pepper in a blender. Puree until very, very smooth, about 2-5 minutes depending on the blender used. Blending for this long should make the cheese sauce hot, but if you want it hotter- heat up in the microwave or on the stove.
- Layer the nachos: potatoes, cheese sauce, black beans, pico de gallo, chopped red pepper, sliced jalapenos, and guacamole.