By Cal Orey
Do you like nachos? You can find them at convenient stores to restaurants. And these days you, like me, can and likely have made a batch in the comfort of your kitchen. There are a garden-variety of nacho types, which include a quartered tostada or tortilla chips, with topping such as meat, poultry, cheese, sour cream, and salsa. Then there are “Irish Nachos” aka nacho potato skins also with these tasty ingredients sprinkled on top of French fries -- and even baked potato wedges.
More than a decade ago, one summer day after swimming (ah, the pre-pandemic days), I was famished. But due to our south shore heat I didn’t want to cook. I didn’t know about nacho potato skins. So, I plopped a handful of multigrain tortilla chips onto a plate; sprinkled cheddar cheese on top. I nuked it until the cheese was hot and bubbly. My Brittanys – two dogs Simon and Seth – were behind me the entire time making this easy snack to create a human challenge. And yeah, this popular appetizer is crunchy, chewy, and gooey. It’s fun and tastes good.
Fast forward to a different time. New dog, and I have a more fussy palate. So, I gave nachos a tater twist for the health of it.
Nacho Potato Skins
6 medium potatoes, russet (or sweet if you prefer)
¼ cup butter
1/2-1 cup cheddar cheese or mozzarella, grated
2-4 Roma tomatoes, chopped (I also used store bought chunky salsa in a plastic container, not a jar)
1-1 1/2 cups lettuce (kale, baby spinach, or iceberg), shredded
1/4-1/2 cup sour cream
Hot peppers (to taste)
½ cup fresh green onion, sliced
Fresh rosemary, minced (to taste)
Chives, fresh or dried (to taste)
Wash taters and bake in the microwave for 15 to 20 minutes. (They are better baked in the oven but due to our heat wave – use the microwave.) Cut potatoes lengthwise or in four quarters (I did it this way.) On a plate, when cool scoop out potato but leave some intact. Brush each potato with butter. Place on a baking sheet and pop ‘em in 450 degrees for about 10 minutes or until crispy. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake a few more minutes. Remove from oven and top the cheesy potatoes with veggies, sour cream, and herbs. Makes 24 wedges or 12 halves. Serves 4-6. You can put leftovers in an airtight container and into the fridge for a day or so.
The bottom line: When you use chips it’s an appetizer as it can be with potatoes. But if you add plenty of toppings – like cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes -- it can be a light lunch or dinner. Embracing novelty can be delightful if we have choices – like choosing toppings for potato skins. Pair your Irish Nachos with iced tea or cold lemonade to chill and feel in control. That can be comforting (like hanging out with a canine companion) during these new and uncertain times.
-- Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, Essential Oils, Herbs and Spices) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is http://www.calorey.com.