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Cactus Nachos

Inspired by the much-beloved nachos at Seattle’s Cactus Restaurant, these highly-craveable nachos feature melty cheese, two types of salsas, fresh guacamole, and tangy crema.

Servings

2

Ready In:

30-60 minutes*

Good For:

Any Season

*Depending on whether you are using homemade or prepared ingredients

Inroduction

About this Recipe

By: Rachel

In the early 2000s, I was in my early 20s, and had just moved to Seattle. Each area of this beautiful city has its own personality, with wonderful restaurants unique to each neighborhood.

Ingredients

  • 6-8 ounces (170-225g) tortilla chips
  • 1 cup (150g) corn, charred over a grill or in a dry cast-iron pan
  • 1 cup (120g) Jack cheese, shredded*
  • 1 cup (120g) cheddar cheese, shredded*
  • ½ cup (130g) charred tomato salsa
  • ½ cup (130g) pico de gallo
  • 1 cup (150g) guacamole**
  • ½ cup (80g) crema (purchase at a Latin American specialty market, or make your own)
  • 2-3 scallions, cut lengthwise into very thin strips
  • Grilled chicken or beef

*Shred from a block rather than using pre-shredded cheese. The latter contains anti-clumping ingredients that will adversely affect how well your cheese melts. 

**The recipe for the original Cactus guacamole can be found here

My roommate and longtime friend, Jessica, and I loved to visit Madison Park, especially in the summers. The neighborhood is full of stately, historic homes, culminating in a beach that features stunning mountain views over Lake Washington.

Cactus Restaurant (now with several Seattle-area locations) is just steps from the water. It is the perfect place to head for happy hour after a day in the sun. Jessica and I loved to share a plate of their “Ten Dollar Nachos,” along with a margarita or two each. The heaping platter of salty tortilla chips, piled high with toppings, satisfied every craving. And the price was perfect for our slim budgets. 

Although these same nachos now cost $13.50 (even nachos are not safe from inflation), the dish is just as wonderful as ever. One of the great things about this dish is the contrast in flavors and textures. These nachos feature crunchy chips, two types of melty cheese (Jack and cheddar); smoky, charred tomato salsa and fresh, bright pico de gallo; sweet kernels of blackened corn, tangy crema, and more. I’ve been trying for decades to create the perfect sweet, smoky, salty replica, especially since I don’t live in Seattle anymore—though as you might imagine, I make up for lost time every time I am back in town. 

I love to make these nachos in late summer, when ingredients are at their peak. There’s nothing like roasted fresh corn, charred on the grill; sweet garden tomatoes, and the smoky taste of vegetables that have been grilled over the fire for salsa. The taste is incomparable. However, if you are short on time (or craving these nachos in the dead of winter), store-bought will do. Fresh salsas are often available at Latin American specialty stores (jarred works too), and Trader Joe’s sells frozen blackened corn.

My roommate and longtime friend, Jessica, and I loved to visit Madison Park, especially in the summers. The neighborhood is full of stately, historic homes, culminating in a beach that features stunning mountain views over Lake Washington.

Cactus Restaurant (now with several Seattle-area locations) is just steps from the beach. It is the perfect place to head for happy hour after a day in the sun. My roommate, Jessica, and I loved to share a plate of their “Ten Dollar Nachos,” along with a margarita or two each. The heaping platter of salty tortilla chips, piled high with toppings, satisfied every craving. And the price was perfect for our slim budgets. 

Although these same nachos now cost $13.50 (even nachos are not safe from inflation), the dish is just as wonderful as ever. One of the great things about this dish is the contrast in flavors and textures. These nachos feature crunchy chips, two types of melty cheese (Jack and white cheddar); smoky, charred tomato salsa and fresh, bright pico de gallo; sweet kernels of blackened corn, tangy crema, and more. I’ve been trying for decades to create the perfect sweet, smoky, salty replica, especially since I don’t live in Seattle anymore—though as you might imagine, I make up for lost time every time I am back in town. 

I love to make these nachos in late summer, when ingredients are at their peak. There’s nothing like  roasted fresh corn, charred on the grill; sweet garden tomatoes, and the smoky taste of vegetables that have been grilled over the fire for salsa. The taste is incomparable. However, if you are short on time (or craving these nachos in the dead of winter), store-bought will do. Fresh salsas are often available at Latin American specialty stores (jarred works too), and Trader Joe’s sells frozen blackened corn.

Ingredients

  • 6-8 ounces (170-225g) tortilla chips
  • 1 cup (150g) corn, charred over a grill or in a dry cast-iron pan
  • 1 cup (120g) Jack cheese, shredded*
  • 1 cup (120g) cheddar cheese, shredded*
  • ½ cup (130g) charred tomato salsa
  • ½ cup (130g) pico de gallo
  • 1 cup (150g) guacamole**
  • ½ cup (80g) crema (purchase at a Latin American specialty market, or make your own)
  • 2-3 scallions, cut lengthwise into very thin strips
  • Grilled chicken or beef (optional)

*Shred from a block rather than using pre-shredded cheese. The latter contains anti-clumping ingredients that will adversely affect how well your cheese melts. 

**The recipe for the original Cactus guacamole can be found here

 

 

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350ºF (175ºC).

Step 2

You can make these nachos in a sheet pan lined with parchment, or in a cast-iron pan. Either way, line your pan with chips, and top with charred corn, meat (if using), and shredded cheese.

Step 3

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted. Remove from oven, and distribute the charred tomato salsa, pico de gallo, and guacamole over the top. Drizzle with crema, garnish with scallions, and serve immediately.

Optional: Instructions for the salsas and guacamole can be found here.

Beverage Pairing

By: Olivia

This needs to be said: normalize nachos for dinner! These Cactus Nachos will fill you up and leave you satisfied. Between all of the delicious elements of this dish, you cannot go wrong with a light red wine, a beer, or a margarita like Rachel paired in Seattle. Using Violet Wine’s shelves for inspiration, I’d recommend Aupa Pipeño, a Chilean chillable red wine made up of 80% País and 20% Carignan, a cold can of Modelo, or a margarita using either Madre Mezcal or Mijenta Tequila. No matter which beverage you choose, you will find a classic pairing that will have you making these nachos every week!