Nachos are typically billed as an appetizer or a snack—but that’s not my style. I want nachos to be the main event, something I can pile onto a dinner plate and absolutely go to town on. It’s not that I don’t do this with regular nachos, too, so much so that after eating a family-sized bag of tortilla chips’ worth of nachos, my stomach hurts and I’m still hungry an hour later. Enter: sweet potato nachos.
As a base I use a cross between sweet potato chips and roasted sweet potato rounds. (Slice them on the thin side for more charred, crispy potatoes; thicker for creamier, classic roasted sweet potato vibes—both are excellent!) Don’t freak out, there are still tortilla chips present, just wait a sec. I need to talk about beans first. And when it comes to beans, while I think they are extremely important to a good dinner nacho, I am deeply uninterested in a can of rinsed beans just dumped over the plate. Instead, allow me to enter into the record a batch of smashed, well-seasoned black beans (though pintos work just as well!), which are essentially refried beans, and infinitely more flavorful than their plain, canned counterparts.
These nachos are vegetarian, but if you’d like to get rid of a couple pieces of leftover baked chicken or braised meat, give it a good shred and layer it on after the cheese in step 4, then again after the second layer of beans in step 5. And when it comes to toppings, the world is truly your oyster. Everyone has their favorite crunchy, spicy, saucy adornment to a plate of nachos, and I encourage you to follow your heart; mine tells me salsa, avocados (or a batch of Eric Kim’s Chunkiest, Herbiest, Greenest Guacamole!), sliced radishes, pickled onions or jalapeños, and—of course—crushed tortilla chips. —Rebecca Firkser
- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 35 minutes
- Serves 3-4
(about 6 medium) sweet potatoes, scrubbed
Smashed Black Beans (see recipe below)
(about 4 cups) shredded cheese (I like a mix of Monterey Jack, pepperjack, and yellow cheddar)
salsa or pico de gallo
1 or 2
ripe avocados, sliced (or, for a bit more excitement, 1 or 2 batches of the Chunkiest, Herbiest, Greenest Guacamole)
For serving: thinly sliced radishes, shredded cabbage, thinly sliced raw or pickled jalapeños, thinly sliced raw or pickled onions, thinly sliced scallions, sour cream (for dolloping), gently crushed tortilla chips, roughly chopped cilantro
Lime wedges, for serving
- Smashed Black Beans
olive oil, divided
garlic cloves, smashed
yellow onion, roughly chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
hot smoked paprika
(15-ounce) can black (or pinto) beans, liquid reserved
red wine vinegar
- Heat the oven to 450ºF.
- Slice the (unpeeled) sweet potatoes into rounds about 1/4 inch thick. Err on the thin side for more charred, crispy potatoes; thicker for creamier—both are excellent!
- In a large bowl (or directly on two rimmed sheet pans) toss the potatoes with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer. Bake, with one pan on a rack in the top of the oven and the other on the bottom, for 12 to 14 minutes, until well charred. Flip the potatoes, swap the positions of the sheet pans, and continue cooking until cooked through and charred on the other side, another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the trays from the oven and toss the potatoes to ensure none are stuck to the pan.
- Reduce the heat to 350ºF. Spread about half the beans and sprinkle half the cheese over one tray of potatoes. Return the tray to the oven and cook until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the sheet pan from the oven. Building on the one tray, layer the remaining sweet potatoes over the melted cheese. Cover the second layer of potatoes with spoonfuls of the beans (use the rest of the batch or however much you’d like). Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and return to the oven for another 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
- Dot the surface of the nachos with large spoonfuls of salsa or pico de gallo. Scatter avocado over the nachos (or dot with large spoonfuls of guacamole). Finish with the remaining desired toppings and serve immediately, with lime wedges for squeezing.
- Smashed Black Beans
- While the potatoes are cooking, make the beans. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook, stirring regularly, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Make a well in the center and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Stir in the paprika and cumin and let sizzle for 30 seconds, until the spices are fragrant.
- Dump the entire can of beans (yes, liquid, too!) into the pot. Fill the can halfway with water, pour into the pot as well, and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper. Use the side of a spoon or spatula to gently smash the beans up a bit. Let cool slightly, then mix in the vinegar before serving.