Shrimp and Cheese Nachos

Shrimp Cheese Nachos 1

Now, shush. I gave you lentils in my last post. Now you will get nachos. C’mon. We all need a little cheesy nacho goodness to balance out the healthy food around here. Besides, if we are going to analyze this, then this plate of fun food isn’t as bad as you think. I did my best to keep it light and fresh, just close your eyes and enjoy the cheese. And yes I called this dinner.

Shrimp Nachos

You don’t need a whole pound of shrimp for this recipe, but I do recommend it so you can pop a few in your mouth before serving.

Serves 6 (or 4 if you call this dinner)

Shrimp:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined

1 to 2 ripe but not mushy avocados, diced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cumin

8 ounces tortilla chips
3 cups Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, grated, plus 1 cup for broiling
3 green onions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced
2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
1/2 small red onion, finely diced

1 large vine-ripened tomato, cored, diced
½ cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, cumin and red pepper flakes and stir until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Add the shrimp in one layer. Cook until pink and just cooked through, turning once, about 2 minutes. (It’s ok if the shrimp are a little under-done. They will continue to cook in the oven). Remove from pan and drain on paper towel lined plates.

Combine the avocado, lime juice, salt, pepper and cumin in a small bowl and gently stir to coat.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spread half of the tortilla chips in a large rimmed baking pan. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of the cheese, half of the white scallions, half of the jalapenos and half of the red onion over the chips. Top with remaining chips, 1 1/2 cups cheese, white scallions, jalapenos and red onion. Bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and nachos are hot, 10 to 12 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and turn on the broiler. Arrange the shrimp over the cheese. Sprinkle the last 1 cup cheese over the shrimp. Broil to melt the top cheese, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Scatter the avocado, tomatoes, green scallions, and cilantro evenly over the top. Serve immediately with salsa and guacamole if desired.

Nacho Night

Nacho Night

Nachos

It’s Nacho Night at our house.  Yes, I confess.  Foodie I may be, parent I certainly am, health minded almost always.  But there is a time and place for nachos, and tonight is the night. Is it possible to call nachos healthy?  I suppose, or, where there is a will there is a way.  But if you bear with me a moment, I will try to list the merits of a homemade platter of nachos for an easy, family dinner.  Or, rather, I will repeat the arguments my 13 year-old presented me with when he implored that we have nachos for dinner tonight.  I fell for it.

These nachos are meatless.  The chips are layered simply with grated cheese, green onions and black olives (deferring to the pickier sensibilites of my 10 year-old.)  Grilled under the oven broiler until the cheese melts and the chips turn a bit brown, the nachos are then served with bowls of homemade guacamole and salsa on the side.  Both of these sides are healthy, and loaded with veggies.  I have tried different chips and prefer a good quality corn chip, but if you wish to up the ante, Trader Joe’s carries Flaxseed chips. They are as equally high in fat as regular chips, but offer the added flaxseed,  and taste good to boot.  Finally, nachos score big in the social department: Great for a crowd, family friendly, fun to eat, and just in time for the Superbowl.  So, maybe not the healthiest, but they sure make up for it in the fun and camaraderie department.  These days, this kind of fun eating is a bright spot in our day.  Are you convinced yet?

Nachos with Guacamole and Tomato Salsa
Serves 4-6

12 oz. (350 grams) corn tortilla chips
3/4 lb. grated cheese (monterey jack, cheddar or combination)
1/2 cup pitted black olives, sliced
8 green onions (scallions), ends trimmed, finely sliced
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, stemmed, sliced thinly or 1/4 cup bottled, sliced jalapenos

On a rectangular baking sheet, or oven-proof serving platter arrange half the chips in one layer.  Sprinkle with half the cheese.  Cover with remaining chips in one layer.  Sprinkle with half the remaining cheese.  Evenly arrange olives, green onions, jalapenos over chips.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Place under pre-heated oven grill.  Grill until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve immediately with Salsa and Guacamole.


For the Guacamole
:
Makes about 2 cups

1 small red onion, diced
1/2 small yellow onion, grated, with juices
1/2 red serrano chile pepper, stemmed, seeded, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 ripe avocados
Juice of one lime
dash of hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1/4 cup chopped cilantro/coriander sprigs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a medium sized bowl combine onions, chile pepper, garlic, avocados, lime juice and hot sauce.

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Mash avocados with a fork and mix ingredients together, keeping a lumpy consistency.  Add cilantro and stir in.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tip:  Guacamole can be made up to 4 hours in advance.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap to prevent discoloration.  Also, try putting an avocado pit into the middle of the guacamole to help prevent discoloration.

For the Tomato Salsa:
also known as Pico de Gallo
Makes about 3 cups

1 1/2 cups pasata or tomato purée
3 plum tomatoes, seeded, diced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 sweet red pepper, cored, seeded,finely  diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded, minced
1 serrano chile pepper, stemmed, seeded, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro/coriander leaves
1 teaspoon dried cumin
Juice from 1/2 lime, about 1 tablespoon
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salsa

Make the Salsa:
Combine all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl.  Stir to mix well.  Adjust seasoning to taste.  Let sit at least one hour and up to 4 hours before serving.

Note
: The ingredients and amounts are a general suggestion.  Add or omit spices and chiles to your desired taste.