corn and black bean weeknight nachos Recipes

corn and black bean weeknight nachos

I’m currently in a swarm of many behind-the-scenes things that I genuinely couldn’t be happier about even if it would also be okay if they didn’t all fall in the next few weeks (the deadline on the next cookbook, the launch at-last-so-overdue-hooray site redesign, a hopefully very cool new project or two, the first birthday of this fiesty love, all of the end of the year chaos that comes with a school-aged kid), that if there were a textbook definition of Bad Times To Take a Vacation, my June might be under it. Thank goodness I am not married to anyone burdened by such trivialities. Thus last weekend, when he surprised me with a birthday weekend away in Mexico City, a place I’ve been telling him I wanting to go to for the better part of a decade, but briefly expressed concern that this wasn’t the “best” time to get away, I was like “SHUT UP WHICH AIRPORT I ALREADY CALLED AN UBER.” The more dramatic the mess, the more dramatic the escape hatch required, right?

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But seriously: Maybe this could be a new life rule. Because of instead of working bleary-eyed through the weekend and diligently ignoring the big birthday in the middle of it, I sipped mezcal, ate all the tacos (also panuchos, tostatas, flautas), the actual nectar of the gods (not just a saying, apparently), ate fruit in every color of the rainbow, wandered old streets, saw ancient ruins, and ate a tlacoyo that had been kneaded from blue corn masa right in front of me minutes before, and was back in time to take the kid to school and resume my chaos exactly where I left it on Tuesday morning. I’m a lucky, lucky human.

Untitled pulpo tostada
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This is where I’m supposed to recreate the pulpo tostata that might have alone been worth the airfare. We should really talk about the thin, red sopas you’d finish with lime, the salsas at all of the taco stands (no two alike and all less about screaming heat than they are about nuanced flavor), the way the guys throw corn tortillas all over the simmering meat and then one by one, use them to scoop it up, creating a glorious mess that you do not dare ask for a fork to eat, the perfect margarita, why aguachiles should be everyone’s new summer dish, plus all of the glorious intersections of eggs, tortillas, avocados and chile sauces, i.e. my happiest food place. This is not the time to talk about hopelessly inauthentic foods such as tortilla chips and cemented with cheese but I fear a weekend in the motherland did nothing to cure me of my craving for weeknight nachos, and thus they happened here first.

first, we char and grate
layer this up
ready to bake

You could argue that adding vegetables, seasonal vegetables like blistered sweet corn and charred poblano, no less, to nachos is a violation of the central tenets of baking chips with cheese — i.e. never healthy, never sober. But I’ve been trying to figure out how to pass nachos off for dinner for most of my adult life and if two vegetables and a lot of fresh, salad-y toppings does the trick, if this means we get to have more nachos in our life, and not just at 2am before the regret sets in, well, I think we all win.

taking fixings very seriously
corn and black bean weeknight nachos

Notes From a Weekend In Mexico City: Where we ate and what we did, plus a few tips. Hope you find it helpful. (You should go!)

One year ago: Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Pie
Two years ago: Valerie’s French Chocolate Cake
Three years ago: Bowties with Sugar Snaps, Lemon and Ricotta
Four years ago: Chocolate Swirl Buns
Five years ago: Rich Homemade Ricotta
Six years ago: Crushed Peas with Smoky Sesame Dressing and Chocolate Doughnut Holes
Seven years ago: Pickled Sugar Snap Peas, Springy Fluffy Marshmallows and Spanikopita Triangles
Eight years ago: Dead Simple Slaw + 6 Heat Wave Reprieves and Pistachio Petit-Four Cake
Nine years ago: Strawberry Tart

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Eggnog Waffles + A Few Favorite Things
1.5 Years Ago: Jelly Doughnuts and Endives with Oranges and Almonds
2.5 Years Ago: Eggnog Florentines and Linzer Torte
3.5 Years Ago: Cashew Butter Balls
4.5 Years Ago: Peppermint Hot Fudge Sauce

Corn and Black Bean Weeknight Nachos

  • Servings: 4 but I won't tell anyone if 3 of you polish it off
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Print

  • 2 ears corn, husked
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large poblano
  • Nonstick spray or 2 teaspoons oil
  • 2 generous cups (about 8 ounces) coarsely grated monterey jack cheese
  • 2 generous cups (about 8 ounces) coarsely grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 12-ounce bag tortilla chips, the thicker the better
  • Toppings
  • Thinly sliced jalapeno (1 used 1/2 a big one)
  • Thinly sliced radishes (I used 2 medium)
  • 1/2 a white onion, minced (you can toss it with a little lime juice and salt to lightly pickle it, if desired)
  • Handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Sliced avocado
  • Lime wedges
  • Hot sauce

Over a gas flame or on a grill over high heat, char corn all over until at least half the kernels are blistered, and poblano until skin is blackened. Let both cool slightly then cut the corn kernels from the cob. Remove the skin and seeds from the poblano and cut it into very thin ribbons. (For a large one, you might only use half.)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat your largest baking sheet with foil (which I did not, and wish I had) and lightly coat it with oil. Arrange 1/3 of chips on tray and sprinkle 1/3 of corn, black beans, poblano strips and cheese over it. Repeat twice. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cheese has melted and blistered all over. Use this time to prep your toppings.

When nachos are cooked, you can sprinkle a few toppings over (I used the jalapeños, radishes, tomatoes, onion, cilantro and avocado) or just bring everything to the table and let everyone fix their own.

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90 comments on corn and black bean weeknight nachos

  1. Ahh i saw that you were away on Instagram and couldn’t wait for the food inspiration that was going to come from the trip. When is the second book coming out?!

  2. Molly

    We love nachos for dinner and I always load them full of veggies to justify it as a dinner dish. Have not tried to char my corn or add charred poblano. Must try this immediately!!!

  3. Randi

    Just an FYI for easy, non stick nacho making we like the non-stick Reynolds foil or our jumbo roll of Costco parchment paper. So easy to clean up. Like it never happened. Plus you can pick up all the little frico cheese bits that sizzled on the pan!

  4. Lara

    I didn’t know that I wanted to visit Mexico City until this very moment. Also, I have also been trying to figure out a way to make nachos an acceptable dinner since college, so thanks for legitimizing this for me!

  5. I met you briefly at a book signing in DC a few years ago and told you how I discovered your blog while living in Mexico City for a year. You told me how much you wanted to visit Mexico City and it was just such a sweet interaction. I loved meeting you. I’m so glad you got the chance to visit this vibrant city! And that you are encouraging others to visit. Much of my family lives there and I love it, but so many people have expressed some fear of visiting the city. Thank you for highlighting the food and color and beauty!

    1. deb

      Marisol — !! I remember meeting you, and thank you. I can’t believe I’ve been yammering about wanting to go for so long. Glad he got the hint. ;)

  6. I think that loaded nachos are quite legitimate for dinner. When I’m in the U.S., if I’m forced to eat someplace other than a Mexican restaurant, I will order nachos for dinner, because you can almost always at least find nachos.
    Since Cinco de Mayo landed on a French holiday this year, we threw a fiesta (even though it’s a celebration of the victory of Mexican forces over the French, but anyway….). I am proud to say I introduced two dozen neighbors to Mexican food. They were scared–it’s unfamiliar, isn’t it spicy?–but I put the jalepenos on the side and held back on the chilis. We most definitely ate loaded nachos, among other things. Beans, carne asada, tomatoes, olives, oh, lots and lots of things. Guac on the side. Huge hit. There’s no Mexican restaurant in Carcassonne, so they didn’t know any better. The only hiccup: no fresh corn tortillas. I made flour ones, though, but used, gulp, industrial ones.

  7. Leslie

    Your Mexico escape looks great! I am currently hooked on any and all sheet pan dinners and I think we can all consider nachos in that category. Have you tried using parchment paper to line your sheet pans? Easy clean up and a bit more environmental. Thanks for constantly inspirational cooking. I don’t know how you do it and I’m in awe.

  8. Joanie B

    Looks like a fun trip for you guys! But why are those Mexican plates you’re eating off of covered in plastic, please?! And HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WEE ADORABLE GINGER-HAIRED PERELMAN!!!

  9. You remain one of my top resources for tasty (accessible) food. The family and I will be recreating this tomorrow for dinner.

    I’m not sure if I’m missing something but your Mexico trip guide section seems to be missing a link (or maybe it’s just me).

  10. Rebekah

    Deb, this would fit nicely in your “Put a Fried Egg On It” category, making it a lovely middleground between chilaquiles and huevos rancheros. Happy birthday to all!

  11. Tawni

    Site redesign?! But I love your site just as it is! If anything, please don’t take away your “Surprise me!” button, it is my favorite thing. Also, thank you thank you for not having a bunch of ads on your site which always seem to make sites run reaaaaally slow. Happy Birthday!

  12. Lauren

    Lucky you! As far as I’m concerned a significant other could take me away to the next town for my birthday and I would be happy! Mexico City, what a dream! Lovely Anna has delighted us for a YEAR already??( Almost!) and Jacob will now have another year of school under his belt? How can these things be happening so fast?

    Must make nachos and ponder the speed of life with them and a beer!

  13. Gail

    We almost went to Mexico City for a recent anniversary trip – stopped by an expired passport and a blown-out knee – but I really want to go, too! 20+ years ago we went to Michoacan and fell in love with (real) Mexican food (I was already a little in love with Rick Bayless). So I get that infatuation with the holy intersection of avocado, chiles, eggs, fresh cheese, corn… gah! Thanks for posting your food-notes on the trip – I am bookmarking this for our next big trip!

  14. Chloe

    I’ve been feeding my family nachos for dinner regularly for years. The secret to the lack of guilt is that I use unsalted chips (Que Pasa makes some). Canned refried beans are healthy too, very few ingredients, nothing unpronounceable.

  15. Denise

    I’m so excited that you got to visit DF! As a Mexican-American, I can’t wait to see your spin on all the aforementioned dishes :) also, if I could make one respectful request, could you reconsider the ‘Tex-Mex’ label? If not, no big deal, just thought I’d ask!

  16. I’ve never heard of justifying nachos for dinner, but that could be because my mom used to have nacho parties every Friday where she’d only serve nachos and margaritas. She even met my dad at one of her nacho parties.

    And if you have one nearby, I’ve had the best luck finding amazing tortilla chips at Mexican grocery stores, especially ones that make their own tortillas. Hopefully that’s not just a California thing (because it’s definitely not a NZ thing).

  17. smittycdm

    So happy that Mexico City is thriving again. My mom spent her (2nd marriage) honeymoon there over Christmas on her way to Cancun in ’74 you can only imagine how wonderful. But my husband had a Client in MC maybe 8-10 years ago? They had big cars & body guards, and he just an accountant, not for the Mafia. Glad times are like a clock, swing back.

  18. This counts as dinner in my book! The corn is one of those ideas that seems so obvious now that it’s right in front of my that I find myself thinking “why didn’t I think of that”? :)

  19. Martey

    This recipe arrived at just the right moment. Two ears of corn, tons of tortilla chips left over from a party, grated cheese from same, and cilantro going nuts in the garden. Thank-you, thank-you for another wonderful idea!

    1. deb

      Leigh — No, we ran out of time. However, it sounds odd but the best pozole I’ve had (in this country at least) is that from the North Fork Table & Inn food truck. A few miles from Mexico City, though. :)

  20. Jill

    My vegetarian daughter (who lives on Mexican food) made us Nachos for dinner this week. She seasons black and pinto beans then blackens peppers and onions, like for fajitas. Delish! Charred corn would be good, too!
    Love Mexico but have never ventured out of the Yucatan region. Would really like to see Mexico City

  21. sk

    Thank you. I am vegetarian, living with a meat eater. I like meals that we can fix and eat together. He can add his charred steak, and be happy. It is difficult to make separate meals.

  22. Isory

    Dear Deb, I’ve been following your site for years now and really appreciate the great (vegetarian) recipes and photos. I’ve tried a lot of new great things thanks to you. I never comment, but hearing you about a redesign for the site I would like to make suggestion for a change that would be very helpful to me (and I think others too): some sort of marking of comments that shows who actually tried the recipe. Often 90 percent of the comments are nice but not very relevant (‘omg this looks so good!’,’where did you get those plates?’, ‘my way of making this dish is like this’), while the few people who tried your recipe help to alert me to what may go wrong in varying conditions and what I shoud pay attention to, and whether the recipe is a hit with most who try it. It would be really great if people could check a box to indicate this. Hope such a feature can be included!

    1. deb

      Alice — If you don’t have a gas stove you can char it over the flame of (this is what I usually do), you could run it under the broiler. Or skip it if it’s too much work. Corn is good either way, even if I do love it here a little torched.

  23. I, too, have been wondering how I could have nachos for dinner. And then, I did it and had a perfect margarita to go with it. It’s totally more healthy if I add lots of veggies. :) Hooray for nachos! I know what’s for dinner tonight!

  24. Jenny Brinitzer

    DF is such a special place! You barely scratched the surface. That’s good, you can return again and again, for the food , for the culture, for the art, for the people. Viva Mexico

  25. Mel

    Deb I am SO excited for all your new projects and I am especially excited for a legit reason to say nachos are for dinner :) I am looking forward to making these next weekend!
    I have to say that I truly love your blog. Funny, warm, enlightening, and a window into what sounds like an absolutely lovely joy filled life. You remind your readers of all kinds of happy things and make everything around cooking (and perhaps life in general) seem so much simpler. A truly delicious (in every sense of the word) read. Thank you for all you do :) xo

  26. Katy

    Since I discovered your web site a few years back, I’ve stopped looking in my other cookbooks. I go to your site first because of the photos, the step by step directions with humor, and the references to your family–and great recipes! I especially like that you give alternatives for ingredients–or give “permission” to leave out an ingredient altogether.

    Looking forward to you next book!

  27. Jen

    Site redesign? I say keep the “surprise me” button. I have no complaints about the current design but I’m looking forward to seeing what new things unfold. Thanks so much for helping me feel inspired about food. Your humor and delicious recipes help make the world a better place.

  28. Beverley

    I heartily agree with Isory regarding her re-design idea: I really appreciate reading comments pertaining to the actual prep of the recipe and would love a way to quickly scan through the very long lists of comments in order to find relevant and helpful tips. They could be highlighted, check marked, or something else that would allow them to stand out (just as your replies stand out because they are shaded). Sometimes I’m looking up a recipe at 5:30pm… when there’s no time to take a leisurely stroll/read through the 100s of comments but when I’d still very much appreciate the ability to read a few pertinent ones. Thanks!

  29. Beverley

    Oh, and one more thought: I would love the option to print a recipe that included just one representative photo at the top. Perhaps this could be an option? And you would just designate what that photo would be (in general, your first photo of every post would work really well).

  30. Sara

    Ooh I agree with Isory about how it would be helpful if the comments could be marked to show who has actually tried the recipe! Also, being able to reply to comments directly would be wonderful and further facilitate the wonderful community among SK readers :) Can’t wait to see the new look!

  31. Clou

    Ahh. Mexico City, my heart my stomach. BTW, never apologize for serving nachos for dinner. I believe it deliciously serves up all the major food groups in one dish.

  32. Carol

    I’m jealous that you went to Mexico City – the food sounds amazing. I’m especially wishing we had more mescal in Puerto Morelos (where we decided to spend last weekend). The Nacho’s look amazing, will have to try those, tonight though it is black bean confetti salad for us Love your site, keep it up and can’t wait for the new cookbook!

  33. happysadcat

    I’m going to Mexico City by myself in early 2017, SO EXCITED, and very grateful for your review and links. I’ll be there for ten days and hope to take a couple of cooking lessons–if anybody has any recommendations, I’d be glad to hear about them.
    Off to make nachos for an early Sunday supper, with lots of roasted corn!

  34. Emily

    Do you have a cheese grater to recommend? I always want my cheese to be coarsely granted but have not found a tool for the perfect size, yet.

  35. Rebeca

    This was dinner last night and, oh, what a delicious one! Your pictures have me dreaming of visiting Mexico… And pulpo tostada? That I need to try. I’m Galician and we love our pulpo.
    Also, how can your little one almost be one?!? Oh man, time does fly.

  36. Amber

    I made two small batches of these this weekend. I would recommend parchment paper (batch #2) instead of foil to line your sheet pan. Too much cheese stuck to the foil in the first batch.

  37. Amy Persons

    You captured the flavors of one of my favorite places so aptly. Thank you! Many Mexicans rinse raw white onion with cold water to de-flame them. It makes them less harsh, but still tasty. I now do this with all raw white onion, whether for guacamole or chicken salad.

  38. Karen P.

    Your delightful charmer with the best-colored curly hair is turning ONE already? Amazing! (Y’all need to patent her hair!)
    And, speaking of amazing… I love your take on adding veggies to Nachos! Will try this recipe soonish!

  39. deb

    Denise — May I ask why? I tend to use it for hybrid, inauthentic Mexican food and was basically told that neither nachos or tortillas chips the way we eat them existed in Mexico City.

    Re, redesign comments — Thank you! It means a lot that you’re invested enough to have ideas for the new look. The good part is that I have been diligently noting everyones concerns about the design for years (I likely listen better here than I do to my own husband or kids, heheh) so (crossing my fingers) there’s absolutely nothing that’s a concern that could be addressed that we haven’t. Here are a few I can comment on:

    Re, printing the recipe so that a photo appears — This was something we ran into a time limitation on. I had hoped for a button that would give you a “Print with photo” or “Print without photo” option but it just couldn’t be built before we need to launch. We will look into it post launch. For now, the printing will default to no-photo because I think by default it should use less toner, not more.

    Re, sorting comments by who has made the recipe and who has not — This is something the amazing designers were able to build. You’re going to be the guinea pigs on this; it’s not like it existed on another site so they built it from scratch but you will have a chance to check “I’ve made this!” or “I have a question!” when you leave a comment and when you go to a recipe, you’ll be able to just view ones in those categories or the general list of all comments, and also ones left by people who checked neither. I hope we’ll find this to be helpful. We’ll also have threaded replies. And (I mean, to me this is just beyond amazing), they were able to keep the comment URLs intact, so in times where I’ve linked to specific comment, it should still work. I abhor broken links.

    “Surprise me!” button — Will be even easier to find, even on mobile. I’d never get rid of it!

    Print button — Will be easier to find and will also work as a Ctrl-P browser function, as it should have this whole time, but apparently hasn’t. (This is why you don’t let bloggers design their own websites unless they actually know what they’re doing.)

  40. Molly

    Is this sacrilegious? —Trader Joe’s makes a fantastic roasted corn, found in the frozen section. Bet you could toss that on straight from the freezer if you need to skip a step!

  41. Susan

    Oh my gosh. I am pregnant right now. Can you imagine how good this looks to me? The problem is, I cannot bear to prepare food. I will have to find someone to pull this together. Because I NEEED it!

  42. Xochitl

    Hey Deb, if you’re missing salsas, I’d recommend looking for Nakanoke and Sons, which I think can be found at Miscelanea NY on 4th St. These are not too spicy (but very tasty!) chipotle and morita salsas that are very thick and almost like adobo, and they’re made by a couple of hipsters from La Roma with a penchant for Mexican-Asian fusion. If you went to Mercado Roma or Catamundi (in Polanco) you might have tasted them. Or, we can send you some Pasilla Oaxaqueño chiles! Great to know that you liked DF :)

  43. Laura W.

    Re: Charring without a gas stove: I’ve had good success charring corn kernels cut off the cob in a dry cast iron skillet, heated on high for several minutes. Dump the corn in and essentially let it sit without stirring for a few minutes and it should char almost as nicely as over an open flame.

  44. Celeste

    I’ve added every thing needed for this to my grocery list. But how do you serve this? The melted cheese in the 3 layers would surely make it semi-homogeneous. Do you cut it in squares? Dip it out with a serving spoon?

  45. I so exited to read this article. i like eating vegetables. Full of veggies to justify as a best and awesome dish.this loaded nachos are quite legitimate for dinner. I liked it very much. Keep sharing such good posts.

  46. Erica

    Made these for dinner last night and they were fantastic — added bell peppers to the baked portion, and garnished with radishes, scallions, lettuce and Greek yogurt. Wish we’d thought to get avocado and cilantro!

    If I made it again, I’d use two poblanos and more corn and beans, which were so delish.

    The un-garnished leftovers reheated really well in the toaster oven — made my coworkers jealous!

  47. Allie

    Didn’t see a comments section on the Mexico City post, but which hotel did you stay at and would you recommend it? Thanks in advance!

  48. I made this last week with only a few minor substitutions.Poblanos are unobtainable, (as far as I’m aware), in New Zealand, so I pan fried a couple of red capsicum with a couple of sliced onions, and a good shake of chile flakes. I let them cook until they were pretty well caramelised. It’s also the middle of winter here, so fresh corn was out, but frozen corn kernels thrown onto a hot cast iron pan charred up just fine.
    It was probably crazy to make this in winter, but the photo just kept calling to me. My (young adult) daughter had rung to say that she was going to come home for the night, and that she was bringing a couple of friends for dinner and a sleepover, and by the way, one of them was vegetarian. I thought that that was a great excuse to make this recipe, even if avocados are $5 each at the moment.
    This nacho combo is insanely delicious, ranking it up there with your sheet-pan chicken tikka, as a Smitten Kitchen top 10
    P.s. my no.1 is your spicy popcorn!

  49. Joy

    Nice refresh on your site even though the older one was perfect in my mind! Read your tips, etc on Mexico City trip but do tell about the accommodations! I do want to go, thanks!

  50. Candice

    As a Texan who loves nothing more than to riff off Mexican recipes by adding queso and a Dos XX, my secret to weeknight nachos is spreading refried beans on every.single.chip. Refried black beans, refried charro beans, homemade refried – it makes a difference!

  51. Alison

    I don’t think the chips I used were thick enough – do you have brand recommendations? Ours turned out pretty soggy. I liked the toppings a lot, though – I think next time I would just do what we usually do, which is use a single layer of chips and toppings and broil them. Much quicker cooking time, and they don’t get soggy.

  52. This is perfect second-trimester food! Enough vegetables to feel virtuous and enough cheese and crunch to satisfy the junk food craving. I topped it with pickled jalepenos, tomatillo salsa, and a few dollops of sour cream to preempt heartburn in addition to the suggested radishes, onions and avocado. Heavenly!