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Let me begin my declaring that I know nothing about Mexican food. I’ve never been to Mexico; I’ve never cooked Mexican food; and I’ve never even looked at a Mexican cookbook.

I have however, eaten at a Mexican restaurant. Once. Six years ago, in the lovely little town of Český Krumlov, in the Czech Republic. The meal I had at that restaurant has the dubious honour of being the only food in life that I simply have not been able to swallow.

Behold! Vertical tortillas on green horseradish mash. (And an unidentifiable dish on the front right...)

It’s not that I don’t like Mexican food, I just suspect that it is rarely done justice outside of the American continent (including here in Australia). (Though perhaps that is changing?!)

I had a craving for nachos, for no apparent reason, and so I decided to make some. This dish is based on what I imagine good nachos might be like, and makes no claim to be in any way authentic. Here follows, my version. The steps are:

  • Make the refried beans
  • Make the avocado salsa
  • Assemble the nachos

This will serve about 4 people as a snack, or 2 hungry people. You will definitely have leftover beans, and probably some leftover salsa. The beans will keep for about a week in the fridge, or they can be frozen. The salsa will only keep for a day or two, at best (if it lasts that long)!


Refried beans
Olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 small onions, finely diced
1 long red chilli, finely chopped
1 red capsicum, diced
2 x 400g cans red kidney beans
2 x 400g cans tomatoes
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste

Avocado salsa
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 avocado, diced
1 lemon, juiced
½ teaspoon sumac
Fresh herbs (I used winter savoury, but you can substitute anything peppery)
Salt and pepper, to taste

200g bag of corn chips (1 bag per 2-4 people)
Grated cheddar cheese
Sour cream OR natural yoghurt

Refried beans

  • Heat a fair amount of oil in a large saucepan on a low heat.
  • Add onions, garlic, chilli and capsicum. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, until they are soft and sweet.
  • Drain kidney beans, and add to the pan. Add tomatoes. Cook for about half an hour, until most of the liquid is gone.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste. Add paprika until you can taste the subtle smokiness. (Failing nachos, I think this would be great on grainy toast.)

Avocado salsa

  • Remove seeds from tomatoes and dice. Put in a bowl. Season with salt.
  • Dice the avocado and add to the bowl.
  • Pour lemon juice over the top and mix. Do not mix too much because the avocado will go mushy, but try to cover all the avocado in lemon juice (to stop it going brown).
  • Sprinkle sumac and herbs over the top. Season with pepper.
  • Easy.


  • Heat the oven to 150°C.
  • Put the corn chips in a medium-sized oven-proof dish.
  • Grate cheddar over the chips and mix through to distribute.
  • Put a few spoonfuls of beans over the top, and mix through if you like. Add as much, or as little, as you like.
  • Grate some more cheese over the top.
  • Cook in the oven for about 10 minutes, until the chips are extra crispy, the beans are hot, and the cheese is melted but not burnt.
  • Serve with the salsa and sour cream or natural yoghurt.

This is a great snack to serve to friends. It will make you very popular because…

…everyone loves nachos!

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