Weeknight Shorts: A Twist on Nachos

Sometimes my definition of fusion cuisine gets a little nutty. I am fortunate enough to have a family that's adventurous enough to climb into unfamiliar culinary terrain and try new and interesting twists for breakfast, lunch, and dinner … and everything in between. Whether I'm making a rhubarb sauce that will work in oatmeal, atop pork chops, and over ice cream or trying to find a new foundation for nachos that will work well with pea vines, I've rarely got to worry about my husband or daughter giving me disapproving looks. So when I decided that we were going to explore the intersection of nachos and tater tots, dinner ended up looking like this:

It's actually a fairly simple meal to assemble. I liked the idea of single-source lean ground beef taco meat - the sort of filling you'd find at a taco bar or Tex-Mex restaurant - paired with cheese, olives and some fresh produce. I just used what I had on hand. Crunchy radishes (yeah, my kid loves them … I'm so happy about that), green onions, and slightly sweet pea vines did the trick. I also made sure the taco meat included diced tomatoes to up the vegetable content of the meal. Now, I know pea vines aren't readily available to everyone. I just happened to have some on hand from my CSA box. You can substitute your favorite mild greens or skip them if you think they won't go over well. The pea vine was a hit and has been known to be nibbled upon as a snack when it's available in my house, but your mileage may vary.

Since this recipe really provides a full meal, you don't need to consider any sides. That said, we opted to slice some fresh, sweet watermelon alongside the tatchos for a very summery feel to the meal. Beer, hard cider, lemonade, or tea would all work well with the meal, too. Then, it's just a matter of making sure you save room for a little ice cream for dessert. There's something simply fun about quick food like this!

Easy Tatchos

  • 1 (16 oz.) pkg. frozen tater tots - prepared according to package instructions
  • 10 oz. lean hamburger
  • 1 (12 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 T. taco seasoning
  • 1/3 c. shredded cheese — choose your favorite variety
  • 2 T. sliced green onions
  • 1/4 c. sliced black olives
  • 2 large radishes, sliced into thin pieces
  • 1 handful pea vines or other mild greens
  • Salsa, hot sauce, and sour cream - for serving

Prepare the tater tots according to the package instructions. Reduce the oven temperature to 350º F.

While the tater tots are baking, brown the hamburger in a large skillet. Add the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning and cook on medium heat until thickened and fragrant.

On a large, ovenproof plate, arrange the tater tots in 1-2 layers, depending on the diameter of the plate. Sprinkle the seasoned meat evenly over the tater tots. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over that and the green onions and black olives over the cheese. Bake the contents of the plate for 5 minutes in the preheated oven or until the cheese is completely melted.

Carefully remove the plate from the oven and add the sliced radishes and pea vines to the plate. Serve immediately with salsa, hot sauce, and sour cream.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

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