You know what’s really disappointing? When you’re out at a restaurant or pub, and the only thing on the menu that sounds remotely gluten free is nachos. You ask the server, with just a hint of desperation in your eyes, if they are gluten free. No, he replies, the cheese sauce is made with flour. Or the chips are made with flour. Or the chili they use is thickened with, you guessed it, flour. Well, the obvious solution is to make your own at home (and make them better!) With my easy gluten free cheese sauce and guacamole recipes, you’ll be on your way to delicious and gluten free nachos in no time.
The great thing about nachos is that they are easily customized. At their most basic level, you need tortilla chips and cheese. Beyond that, the choice is yours! Here’s a list of toppings to get you started:
- whole pinto or black beans
- refried beans
- diced chicken
- ground beef
- diced steak
- pulled pork
- Texas-style chili (can be made vegetarian, don’t tell Texas)
- green chile
- black olives
- diced tomatoes
- diced onion
- shredded lettuce
- jalapeño slices
- sour cream
- guacamole (recipe below)
I’ve been known to make nachos out of anything and everything. Highlights include sliced polish sausage with caramelized onions, or the time I put turkey, gluten free stuffing and cranberry sauce together for Thanksgiving nachos. (They were delicious.)
Lay out a layer of tortilla chips across a *baking sheet (I like the ones that have edges, because I’m clumsy and things can slide.) Your layer should be arranged so that each chip is exposed, but there’s no (or very little) space between chips. I like a slight overlap because it assures every chip will get covered but you won’t lose toppings through the cracks between chips. As for chips, in the United States I use On The Border, but here I can’t find those. In Glasgow and Edinburgh we have Lupe Pinto’s Deli which makes their own corn tortilla chips, and they are the best I’ve found in the United Kingdom.
Next, you’ll add any toppings that need to be served hot (meat/beans/I would put green chile and jalapeño slices in now). If you’re using whole beans, I suggest using a very light sprinkle of shredded cheese to help the beans stick to the chips; otherwise, they’ll roll everywhere when you try to scoop them off the pan. We’re going to make a cheese sauce so no need to go crazy here, just a little will do.
Broil these at high temperature for just a couple of minutes; they go quick so really watch them! However, you can make your gluten free cheese sauce in these couple of minutes, in the microwave, with just three ingredients.
Easy gluten free cheese sauce
½ cup double cream / 118 ml (UK) or heavy cream (US)
1 cup / 100 g shredded cheddar cheese
milk: UK add 2 tablespoons, US add only 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons *diced green chile (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Put the cheese in a microwaveable *Pyrex measuring cup or bowl. Pour the cream and milk on top. (US heavy cream is right between UK single and double cream, hence the different instructions. If you use UK single cream, you may not need much if any milk!) Heat the cheese in the microwave on “melt cheese” setting if you have one, or on low power if you don’t. On low power in my 800 watt microwave, I gave it one minute, stirred, and then another 30 seconds. Once your cheese has melted and your sauce is resembling sauce, add the diced chile, salt and pepper. Pop it back in the microwave until it’s nice and hot (another 20-30 seconds, watch closely!)
The great thing about this gluten free cheese sauce is that it doubles as a delicious pasta sauce (especially if you include the green chile – yum!)
When you’ve finished your cheese sauce, your nachos should be ready to come out of the oven. I found it easier to put the nachos on the serving plate(s) first, then cover them in cheese sauce. You lose less precious cheese sauce that way! After you’ve generously applied cheese sauce to your chips, add the remaining cold ingredients (vegetables and sour cream/salsa/guacamole.)
Speaking of guacamole, it’s another one of those things that are easy to customize. Here’s a basic recipe that you can use as a guide, but feel free to use less of, or just leave out the stuff you don’t like. Just please don’t make it out of peas – that’s not a good idea.
1 medium – large avocado
1 tablespoon minced onion
1-2 tablespoons diced tomato
1 tablespoon minced cilantro (UK = coriander)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
a few shakes of *green chile seasoning (ingredients list here)
juice from one small lime wedge
salt and pepper to taste
Scoop out the insides of the avocado and put them in a bowl. You should be able to easily mash this with a fork. Add the other ingredients and mix as you smash the avocado into submission. Taste it and add more seasoning if it needs it. Throw a big spoonful on top of your nachos and you’re ready to eat!
If you’re making your own guacamole, you’ll probably want to have it ready before you put the nachos in the oven, as you’ll want to serve them right out of the oven.
What toppings do you like on your nachos? Are you a cilantro hater? Tell me in the comments!
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