Making a big pan of cheesy nachos is a delicious (and fun!) way to use up surplus vegetables from the garden.
I turn to this Grilled Summer Vegetable Nachos recipe when I need a creative way to tackle the squash from my backyard garden (who doesn’t end up with too much summer squash?) or to utilize an extra bundle of chard and zucchini in my CSA box.
A mix of summery vegetables, lightly charred on the grill, makes a flavorful topping for these crowd-pleasing nachos.
The Best Tortilla Chips for Nachos
To make really good nachos, you’ll need to get thick, sturdy tortilla chips.
While the thinner, crispier varieties are great for dipping in salsa or snacking, they’re likely to break if weighed down with lots of toppings. They’re also more likely to break in the bag. A standard bag of chips weights 12 to 14 ounces. This recipe calls for a 14-ounce bag.
A Note About Grilled Vegetables
The key to great vegetable nachos is to balance the flavors. You don’t want one vegetable to dominate another. The vegetables should be grilled until soft and tender so that you can chop them up easily. Use any vegetable you like, including leafy greens that have thick but edible stems like chard. Remove the stems from the leaves and grill them separately.
This recipe calls for easy-to-find vegetables like:
- Bell peppers
How Much Cheese to Use for Nachos
At first glance, 4 cups of cheese may seem like a lot for a single pan of nachos, but cheese is the glue that will help the tortilla chips and the vegetables adhere to each other.
These nachos are built with layers of cheese in between the tortilla chips and the grilled vegetables. Once melted, you’ll be glad to have the cheese bring everything together.
This recipe calls for jack and cheddar cheese because they offer a nice mix of flavors. Any semi-firm, melting cheese you like will work.
- You could buy a shredded mix of Mexican-style cheeses (usually a combination of jack, cheddar, and Colby or asadero cheeses).
- If using a strong cheese, like a sharp cheddar or a gruyere, make sure to use it sparingly and balance it out with a milder cheese, like Monterey jack.
No Grill? Cook the Vegetables on the Stovetop
Instead of grilling the vegetables, simply sear them in a cast-iron skillet over medium or medium-high heat, flipping them as necessary until browned and soft. Work in batches.
Cook the corn for about 3 minutes, rotating often to brown all sides. Cook the eggplant and zucchini for 5 to 10 minutes and the bell pepper and scallions for 10 to 12 minutes.
Prep Ahead for Easy Assembly
If you’re a big nacho fan like I am, plan ahead! Grill and chop the vegetables over the weekend, then make this as a lazy dinner during the week. All you have to do is layer them with tortilla chips and lots of cheese, and finish the whole thing in an oven heated to 500˚F.
You can also throw the vegetables on the grill before a party, make the nachos, and plate it up for your guests as something to nibble on while you grill your burgers or steaks.
Can’t Get Enough Nachos?
Grilled Vegetable Nachos
1 small eggplant
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 small zucchini
1 small ear fresh corn
1 medium tomato
1/2 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed
3 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 14-ounce bag thick-cut tortilla chips
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded jack cheese
1 avocado, diced
Prepare your grill:
Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat, 375°F to 400°F. It should be hot enough that you can only hold your hand 4 inches above the grill grates for 2 to 3 seconds.
Prepare the eggplant:
On a large cutting board, trim the stem off the eggplant, and cut it lengthwise into 1/3-inch slices. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt all over the sliced eggplant then set them in a colander to drain while you prepare the remaining vegetables.
Prepare the other vegetables:
Trim the ends off the zucchini and cut it lengthwise into 1/3-inch slices. Remove the husk and silk from the corn. Trim the root end and 1/2-inch off the green part of the scallions (if they are dry or damaged). Core and dice the tomato.
Season the vegetables:
Dab the eggplant with a paper towel to remove any moisture from its surface. Transfer them along with the zucchini, corn, scallions, and bell peppers onto a large baking sheet. Keep the tomatoes on the cutting board, which you will use again later to chop the grilled vegetables.
Toss the vegetables on the baking sheet with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, olive oil, and black pepper. You will use the baking sheet again later to build the nachos.
Grill the vegetables:
Lay the seasoned vegetables across the grill grates at a 90-degree angle, so that they don’t fall through.
Close the grill and let the vegetables cook until lightly charred, soft, and pliable, opening the grill lid to flip the vegetables occasionally. This will take about 10 minutes for the eggplant, zucchini, scallions, and corn and about 15 minutes for the bell pepper.
Remove each vegetable from the grill onto the baking sheet as they finish cooking. Allow them to cool for 5 minutes.
Cut the vegetables:
When the vegetables are cool enough to handle place them on your cutting board.
Cut the corn off the cob and roughly chop the other grilled vegetables into 1/4-inch pieces so that they are small enough to fit on a tortilla chip. Use your hands to toss all the vegetables, including the diced tomatoes, together on your cutting board.
Preheat the oven and build the nachos:
Turn your oven to 500°F.
Using the same baking sheet you used to bring your vegetables to grill, spread about 3/4 of the tortilla chips on the baking sheet, overlapping them as needed to fully cover it.
Evenly scatter about 1/3 of the cheddar and jack cheese over the chips. Sprinkle about 2/3 of the vegetable mixture. Follow with another 1/3 of the cheese, the remaining chips, and the remaining vegetables. Finish with the remaining cheese.
Bake the nachos:
Bake the nachos until the cheese has fully melted and the top layer has spots that are bubbling, 8 to 10 minutes. Check it at the 8-minute mark for doneness.
If after 10 minutes your cheese isn’t melted to your liking, broil it for 1 minute, keeping an eye on it so that it doesn’t burn. Serve while hot with the sour cream, avocados, and salsa.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 6 to 8|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 42g||53%|
|Saturated Fat 14g||71%|
|Total Carbohydrate 55g||20%|
|Dietary Fiber 10g||37%|
|Total Sugars 7g|
|Vitamin C 38mg||190%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|