These Vegan Chili Cheese Nachos Are Packed with Protein

vegan nachos
Photo Credit: Ashely McLaughlin

by Geraldine Campbell

A few months ago, I visited my brother and his brood of boys and we started a new tradition: nachos. (Because, really, when do you not want nachos?) We spread out some corn tortilla chips on a sheet pan, drained and rinsed a can of black beans and sprinkled them on top, then added a layer of pre-grated cheese. We baked them in the oven until the cheese got melty and browned in spots, then served them with salsa and guac. You might call these nachos #basic, and they are. But, I loved that they were easy enough for my 10-year-old nephew to make all by himself and came together with the dregs of a bag of chips and some pantry staples.

On the other hand, sometimes you want fancy nachos. The kind of fully loaded nachos that can be dinner, not just a snack. And that is where these chili cheese nachos from Oh She Glows come in. They’re loaded with flavor, packed with protein, and covered in cheese sauce. Did we also mention that they’re vegan?

Vegan Chili Cheese Nachos Exist & We Are Here for It

The foundation of these nachos is a smoky lentil and kidney bean chili that’s worth making a double batch of so you can freeze some for your future self. Then there’s the “cheese” sauce, which is so cheesy, you might not believe it’s vegan. It takes some work: You have to soak the cashews overnight and cook the potatoes and carrots before throwing everything into the blender. But it is totally, 100% worth it.

Together, the chili and the cheese sauce make for a combination so delicious and decadent feeling, but also healthy. Serve with your favorite chips and even more sliced jalapenos if you want a bit more heat.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Oh She Glows Every Day by Angela Liddon (Penguin Group Random House Company).

Vegan Chili Cheese Nachos

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste, plus a pinch
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded, if desired, and finely chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon (smoked paprika
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 14-ounce can lentils, drained and rinsed, or 1 1/2 cups cooked lentils
  • 1 14-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Sriracha or other hot sauce
  • 2 batches All-Purpose Cheese Sauce
  • Pickled sliced jalapeños, drained, for garnish
  • Corn tortilla chips, for serving

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt, stir, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onion starts to soften.
  2. Stir in the fresh jalapeño and 1 cup of the bell pepper and cook for a few minutes more. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and paprika and stir to combine.
  3. Pour in the diced tomatoes with their juices and stir. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.
  4. Stir in the tomato paste, lentils, and kidney beans. With a potato masher, roughly mash one-third of the mixture—don’t try to mash it smooth, just until it’s slightly thickened.
  5. Add the vinegar, salt, black pepper, and sriracha. Cook over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, or longer if desired, until thickened to your liking.
  6. Into individual bowls (or a 2 1/2- to 3-quart/2.5 to 3 L cast-iron pot or glass dish), ladle a layer of chili. Top with a layer of the cheese sauce. Keep layering until the chili is used up and you’ve added as muchcheesesauce as you prefer (I usually reserve 1/2 cup/125 mL of the sauce for another use). Top the dip with the remaining bell pepper, pickled jalapeño, and a sprinkle of sea salt.
  7. Serve immediately with corn tortilla chips. Let any leftovers cool completely (otherwise, the steam will create more water in the dip) before transferring to a container and refrigerating for up to 5 days. Reheat leftovers in a saucepan on the stovetop while stirring to combine with the cheese sauce. Cooled leftovers can be frozen in freezer-safe zip-top bags with the air pressed out or in freezer-safe containers filled to the top (to prevent freezer burn) for up to 1 month.