Today’s nacho average Wednesday, as it’s a culinary holiday celebrating that delicious combination of chips and cheese: National Nacho Day! The origin of nachos begins in the city of Piedras Negras, Coahuila, México, just across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas, where Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya is credited with creating the popular finger food in 1943.
He was the maître d’ at the Victory Club restaurant where, after closing one day, a group of hungry military wives stationed at Fort Duncan in Eagle stopped in after a shopping trip. With the cook nowhere in sight, Anaya headed to the kitchen and used what he found: tortillas and cheese.
He cut the tortillas into triangles, fried them, then topped the chips with shredded cheese, heated it up, then served it with jalapeños. When asked by the ladies what his newly concocted dish was called, he replied, “Nacho’s especiales.” Word of the new dish spread quickly throughout Texas and the Southwest, becoming so popular that it made its way into stadiums across the nation.
And the rest is cheesy history. While there’s an endless list of toppings, nachos start with the usual: tortilla chips. Today, however, we’re going to bypass the chip aisle and head to the pasta section because our “chips” are made with lasagna noodles.
What else would you expect lasagna nachos to be made with, after all? Yes, you heard me right: lasagna nachos! This Italian twist starts with cutting cooked lasagna noodles into triangles, frying them until crisp and topping them with mozzarella and a rich meat sauce.
It’s quickly heated in the oven and finished with fresh diced tomatoes and chopped basil. Bursting with the classic and comforting flavors of lasagna, each bite is deliciously cheesy, saucy, meaty and crunchy.
Served as an appetizer, or dinner alongside salad, it’s a fun and hearty dish and a perfect addition to your game-day spread that will for certain have your guests talking. The pasta chips alone, sprinkled with Italian seasoning and sea salt, are addicting. I couldn’t stop snacking on them while frying the batches.
And instead of piling them into nachos, they also can be served as chips and dip. Just stir the meat sauce, cheese and toppings together as the dip, and serve the pasta chips on the side. Ricotta or pesto can be added into the meat mixture, too. And for a spicy kick, add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes or hot sauce to either dish.
Adapted from doughmesstic.com
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground beef
Freshly ground black pepper
3-4 cups spaghetti sauce
1 box lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions
Oil for frying
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 tomato, diced
4-5 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and ground beef, breaking up the meat, and stirring until cooked through. Drain excess oil, if needed. Season with salt and pepper.
Stir in the spaghetti sauce and continue cooking until heated through. Reduce the heat to low and cover to keep warm while preparing the chips. Allow cooked lasagna noodles to air dry and cut them into triangle shapes.
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat, about 1-inch deep. Cooking in batches, add a few chips at a time and fry on each side until lightly golden. Remove chips to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and sprinkle with kosher salt and Italian seasoning. Continue until all the chips are fried.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Layer half of the fried pasta on an oven-safe serving platter or baking sheet. Top with 1/2 of meat sauce and sprinkle on half of the mozzarella. Top with remaining chips, remaining meat sauce (if you have a lot of sauce, reserve some for dipping naked chips) and cheese.
Bake 5-8 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with chopped tomatoes and basil and serve.
Audrey Alfaro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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