Nothing says messy indulgence like a gargantuan pile of vegan nachos. Every bite brings a different flavor – cashew queso, spicy seitan, black beans, chunks of ripe avocado, the peppery bite of jalapeño… And as if that wasn’t enough, you have the variety of textures – crunchy, creamy, and chewy to take the experience up another notch.
Very often when I share a picture of the pile of nachos I’m having for dinner on Instagram or Facebook, I get questions about the various toppings. So I start linking in the comments – the queso from here, the beans from there, the seitan from there… With Cinco de Mayo festivities just around the corner, it was time to put my favorite swoon-worthy vegan nachos all together in one place – no cacophony of linking necessary.
N.N.T.C. – No naked tortilla chips
The key to perfect nachos is in the layers. You don’t want a huge pile of tortilla chips on bottom, and then all the toppings blanketing them. That’s a sure fire way to end up with sad and soggy chips on an empty platter when all is said and done. No one wants that.
So remember the layers – cashew queso, seitan chorizo & beans, chopped fresh vegetables… And then start all over with another layer of chips, seitan chorizo & beans, and so on and so forth. Continue adding like some kind of geological dig in reverse until you have a mountain of nachos to ascend.
Creamy cashew queso
I’ve been making a version of this creamy cashew queso for years. The cashews give the sauce the kind of full-bodied fattiness you really want in your vegan cheese. I’ve drizzled it over breakfast nachos, and most recently it was a topping on my chili cheese tater tots.
There’s just one recent change. Lately I’ve been adding a steamed carrot to the mix. The carrot doesn’t add a lot in terms of flavor, but it does mean you’re squeezing in an extra vegetable at dinnertime. Plus, it gives the queso a very pleasing pop of orange. If you don’t have a carrot on hand, no worries. The cashew queso is every bit as good without it.
Seitan chorizo & black beans
For the beany & meaty portion of the nachos, I’m using Upton’s Naturals chorizo seitan, black beans, and spices. There are loads of seitan chorizo options out there. So feel free to get whatever you prefer.
As always, I reach for ancho chile powder whenever I’m making something Mexican-inspired. Unlike chili powder blends, which are common in many a pantry, ancho chile powder is simply ground ancho chiles. (Ancho chiles are poblano peppers that have been dried.) Many run-of-the-mill chili powder blends include cayenne. So people are often surprised to find that ancho chile powder is flavorful, but not hot. It’s a kitchen essential as far as I’m concerned. But if you don’t have it, go with whatever chili powder you have on hand.
All of the vegetables
Finally, I like to fill out my nachos with chopped onion, cilantro, jalapeño pepper slices, and dashes of hot sauce. This time around I added chunks of fresh avocado, but of course, guacamole would also work beautifully here. For an even more heavily loaded platter of nachos, consider adding dollops of refried beans, black olives, or non-dairy sour cream.
Get your napkins ready. It’s go time.