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Try healthy version of crowd-pleaser as Super Bowl snack

One of my favorite food days of the year is coming up: Super Bowl Sunday.

At the time I am writing this, the teams to play have yet to be determined, so I can’t officially say who I am cheering for. My closest friends know that I don’t follow football closely, but I do love finding reasons to cook for a crowd.

There are not too many ways you can get men, women and children together while agreeing to watch the same TV for more than three hours. I freely admit that I watch the Super Bowl mostly for the commercials and use the game time to fill platters and beverages, but that doesn’t matter, right? As long as we are all having fun and spending time together.

My Super Bowl spread has changed a bit over the years, but there are a few dishes that have managed to stick around through thick and thin. One of those dishes is nachos. In one form or another, those crisp, salty, cheese-covered chips are always a crowd-pleaser. They are also the enemy of my New Year’s fitness goals and my jeans the next day.

This year, I found a way to make them a little more of a waist pleaser with my Roasted Tomato and Chorizo Nachos.

Chorizo sausage is a delicious Spanish, Portuguese or Mexican flavored fresh sausage. Fresh Mexican chorizo is a type of sausage that needs to be cooked before eating as opposed to the more traditional European Spanish and Portuguese sausages that are fermented, cured or smoked. The Chorizo gets its distinctive red color and smoky flavor from smoked paprika in Spain or Portugal and from smoked chili peppers if it is made in the Mexican style.

No, sausage is not my trick to making these nachos more New Year’s resolution friendly, but it is the trick to making me want to eat them. After crisp frying the chorizo and setting it aside to drain, I add it to a lightly pureed blend of oven-roasted plum tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and garlic. Then, the mixture is simmered for 20 minutes to make a delicious vegetable/meat sauce to pour over crisp, oven-baked (and lightly salted) corn tortillas.

The nachos are garnished with fresh guacamole, sliced jalapenos, black olives and crumbled cotija cheese in place of the usual crock-pot of yellow gold. This way, I can still get my chips and queso, just a healthier version. The sauce has been replaced mostly with vegetables, and the cheese is limited to a few sprinkles instead of an entire cup full.

Not only are the results fantastic enough to make their way to more menus than just the Super Bowl, but my skinny jeans can also rest easy.

Roasted Tomato and Chorizo Nachos

4 cups Baked Tortilla Chips

12 ounces chorizo sausage, removed from casing

2 pounds plum or roma tomatoes

1 small yellow onion, diced large

2 red, yellow or orange bell peppers, diced large

5 cloves garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/3 cup guacamole

1/2 cup cotija cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup sliced black olives

1-2 jalapenos, fresh, sliced

1/4 cup cilantro, fresh chopped

Optional: Light sour cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise and place in a resealable plastic bag along with onion, garlic, bell pepper, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread out on rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until tomatoes have started to turn dark brown in areas. Remove pan from oven and place all ingredients into a food processor. Pulse until mixture is slightly chunky. While vegetable are roasting, use a small sauté pan over medium-high heat to cook chorizo sausage until browned and slightly crispy. Break sausage apart as it cooks. Remove sausage from pan and drain on a paper towel for 5 minutes. Using a medium sauce pot, cook roasted vegetables and chorizo together over medium low heat for 20 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Remove pan from heat. Using a serving platter, spread out tortilla chips. Spoon sauce over chips and sprinkle with cotija cheese, jalapenos and olives. Add dollops of guacamole and sour cream as desired. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.

Easy Guacamole

3 ripe avocados

1 cup salsa verde (green salsa)

Combine ingredients and smash ingredients with a fork until desired texture. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Karley can be reached at Read her food blog at EverydayGourmet.