Recipe: Spicy Vegetarian Breakfast Nachos

(Image credit: Megan Gordon)

Nachos certainly have a time and place. When I was in college, that time and place broadened exponentially to include pretty much anywhere and any time, but today things have certainly changed. We make nachos occasionally when the Super Bowl is on or when a group of friends are over to watch a movie, so to try and persuade me that nachos belong on the breakfast table would be stretch, but after working on this recipe, I’m a changed woman.

(Image credit: Megan Gordon)

I think my hangup with nachos in the past has been their indulgent nature — often laden with cheese and sour cream and greasy meats, they feel like much more of a treat than a realistic weekly meal option. But what if you used a little less cheese and topped them with protein-heavy beans and tofu instead? And some good fats from sliced avocado?

(Image credit: Megan Gordon)

I’ve been making a lot of tofu scrambles lately in the morning, so I got to thinking that a great tofu scramble could be transformed into breakfast nachos — especially if I cooked up a few fried eggs to go on top. Now recipes for nachos always seem a bit funny because it’s such personal preference how much cheese you’d like or how much sour cream you’ll use, but I’ve given you my proportions here; feel free to consider it more of a reliable template than a hard-and-fast rule.

As for the best way to eat these, I tend to serve up nachos onto everyone’s plate and place a fried egg on top. You could certainly just dig in as a group and eat them straight from the pan, too. That sounds like a pretty good start to the morning to me.

(Image credit: Megan Gordon)

Spicy Tofu Breakfast Nachos

Serves 4

For tofu mixture:
Vegetable oil, like canola
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion (from 1/2 small onion)
3/4 cup finely chopped red or green bell pepper (from 1 small pepper)
8 ounces firm or extra-firm tofu
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
Few grinds fresh black pepper
3/4 cup cooked black or pinto beans

For nachos:
3 to 4 cups tortilla chips
1 cup grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (about 4 ounces)
3 tablespoons chopped green onions (2 to 3), for serving

To serve (optional):
2 to 4 sunny side-up eggs
Sliced avocado
Sour cream

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Remove the tofu from its package and place on a plate lined with paper towels (or a dry, clean dish towel). Top with another layer of paper towels and a large plate. Place a can of beans (or other can from your pantry) on top of the plate – this applies pressure to the tofu and helps it release excess moisture. Let sit for at least 5 minutes, and up to 30 minutes.

Place tofu in a medium bowl and, using a fork, mash into a crumbly texture.

Heat a thin film o oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and pepper and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Fold in the mashed tofu, salt, chili powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, cumin, nutritional yeast, and black pepper. Stir well and cook until the mixture is warmed through, about 2 minutes. Fold in the beans. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

To assemble:
Place a layer of tortilla chips down in a large cast iron skillet (alternatively, a half baking sheet will work just fine). Spoon a generous layer of tofu mixture and a handful of grated cheese over chips. Top with additional layer of chips, tofu mixture, and cheese. Place in the oven and bake until nachos are completely warmed through, 6 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile fry your eggs in a good, nonstick pan.

Pull nachos out of oven, top with chopped green onions and sliced avocado, sour cream, and salsa. Lay fried eggs on top and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

  • Most tofu comes in 14-ounce packages, but you really only need 8 ounces for this recipe, so feel free to save the rest for another day.
  • I like baking these in a cast iron skillet, but you could use a foil- or parchment-lined baking sheet instead.