A Case for Putting Salad On Top of Your Nachos (And Eating Them On The Couch)

September 10, 2016

Our couch is practically a member of the family.

At 12+ years old, it has been around since before my husband and I were married, it has survived multiple moves (including being hoisted up over a second-floor balcony), and it served as our guest bed for years until we had an actual extra bedroom with a real bed in it. And for most of our couch’s life, it served as our dining spot as well. It’s not that we didn’t always have some version of a table or bar top to sit at, we did, it’s just the couch is so much more comfortable. (Oh, and this post? It was written on the couch, too.)

It suffered a small demotion once we had our daughter, though, because I insisted that we start eating meals at a table—like Real Adults do—so as to not warp her sense of appropriate mealtime behavior. (My couch-eating might not convey it, but I am actually a stickler for proper table manners.) As a result, our couch now sees less mealtime action. These days, if we’re eating on the couch it means it’s either a) after the kid’s bedtime or b) it’s an Oh Screw It* meal.

Not my couch. Photo by Mark Weinberg

Everyone has their version of an Oh Screw It​ meal. You know, it's the one where you’re too tired to make an actual meal meal but aren’t yet resorting to take-out. Such as: “Oh screw it, we’ll just have scrambled eggs for dinner.” Or cereal. Or toast. Or whatever your version of just barely homemade food may be.

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My version of the Oh Screw It meal is nachos—on the couch. The eating on the couch piece is a key part of this type of meal, because I’m too tired to force us to go sit at the table, which means my daughter knows it’s a special treat. Nachos are arguably more snack than meal though, so to make them more dinner-like, I make Salad Nachos, which are exactly what they sound like—​salad on top of nachos. (I am not so disillusioned as to think this bumps them into the category of wholesome dinners, but that’s not what Oh Screw It meals are really about, anyway—aren't they?)

Photo by James Ransom

Much like Salad Pizza, the appeal of Salad Nachos lies in the marriage of hot and cold: Piling cool, crisp greens on top of hot, cheesy nachos. Yes, the greens will wilt ever so slightly, but not so much that they completely lose their crunch. And while nachos and a salad separately sound like too much effort, combining the two is somehow just barely doable on the nights you feel like you can hardly pull something together.

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Top Comment:
“I don't really have a 'screw it' meal, but this looks healthier than what I usually could come up with. Oh and we have one of those couches too. It's like 10 years with 10 years of stains, but we eat at the table now that my son is eating solids... I get you so well.”
— Krysten

The ingredients listed in the recipe below are the ones I like, but this can—and should!—be customized. Whether you like ground beef or prefer black olives to green, top the nachos as you wish. And don't feel tied to the salad dressing either: I like a creamy dressing as a stand-in for dollops of sour cream, but an olive vinaigrette could be interesting, as could a salsa-ranch mix. But, however you decide to top them, I do strongly recommend eating them on your couch.

*Although some will find this name unsavory enough as it is, I tend to favor the more profane version of it. Call it what you’re comfortable with, perhaps it’s the Oh Shucks meal in your home.

Tell us what your version of the Oh Screw It meal is in the comments!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • mizerychik
  • JanieMac
  • Joanne
  • Stacy Feyer-Salo
    Stacy Feyer-Salo
  • Krysten
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


mizerychik September 18, 2016
Nacho salads are always wonderful. I like using huge amounts of cilantro, chopped up with the romaine as another green. Or a variation is where I make a cabbage-radish-scallion salad dressed with lime juice and use that as the cold portion. I also throw in whatever vegetable I have from my CSA into the hot part: corn, zucchini, garlic, etc. I can't eat beans, so there's almost always meat involved.
JanieMac September 18, 2016
Perfect. Plus Jalapenos! And huge napkin/paper towels so we can get our faces into it.
Joanne September 18, 2016
I heat up a can of Heinz vegetarian beans, add walnut pieces and some whole berry cranberry sauce to a box of Jiffy corn muffin mix, and eat these with a chunk of extra sharp cheddar.
Stacy F. September 10, 2016
This exactly what we do for our "Oh Screw It!" meal. Except I just put the sheet pan of nachos directly on the coffee table and skip plates and forks altogether. Also, hotdogs and mac n' cheese. Lovely written piece. Thanks for sharing
Krysten September 10, 2016
I don't really have a 'screw it' meal, but this looks healthier than what I usually could come up with.
Oh and we have one of those couches too. It's like 10 years with 10 years of stains, but we eat at the table now that my son is eating solids... I get you so well.