Vegan Nachos

Here at Gateau | Gato, we love nachos. LOVE them. When we're together, if we aren't cooking, photographing, writing or editing, there's a pretty good chance we're drinking beer and wine, respectively, eating nachos and talking about the scorched desert that is the New York dating scene. What is it about nachos that makes them such happy food? How did we get so lucky, to have this amazing dish on offer at most bars with a happy hour? Do they come from the heavens with the angels and scary babies and whatnot?

Vegan Nachos

Not exactly, but their history is still pretty cool!

And pretty muddled. There are a few different accounts of how they actually came to be, and as Robb Walsh explains in his book The Tex-Mex Cookbook, quoted by Eater NY, no one can singularly claim nachos as their own. The basic origin story is that a group of soldiers and their wives/tourists/women were drinking at a restaurant after hours when they tipsy-ordered some chips and salsa. The bartender, Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya, was the only worker left and discovered that he had run out of salsa. Thinking on his feet, he put some cheese on the chips and gave the soldiers and their wives/tourists/women his creation. They loved it, because who wouldn't, and the dish ended up being a way to use up chips and whatever ingredients chefs had on hand. In honor of their creator, they were named nachos.

I don't even care if this story is real or not, it's amazing. Yet another testament to cheese solving everything.

Vegan Nachos

Well, almost everything. What if you can't eat cheese, or refrain from eating it? Should you not be able to partake in the pure, unadulterated beauty that is nachos? Fuck no! Nachos are for everyone, regardless of dietary restrictions or tummy troubles, and I'm here to prove it.

As I say over and over again, cauliflower is one of my favorite foods, and I firmly believe it belongs on most things. Nachos are no exception! I had roasted cauliflower on nachos for the first time when I was visiting my family in Michigan, and we went to Om Cafe in Ferndale. Their nachos have the usual black beans, tomatoes etc., but they're topped with tiny, caramlized pieces of cauliflower and dear god they're amazing. This is because cauliflower is perfect. Alyssa and I wanted to make vegan nachos that pretty much anyone could eat and enjoy, and I knew that adding roasted cauliflower to them would give them a little extra oomph.

Vegan Nachos
Vegan Nachos

These nachos are also accompanied by a simple yet so amazing salsa verde from Cookie + Kate, made from the tomatillos Alyssa got in her CSA, and guacamole with roasted corn. Throw in some tomatoes, black beans and red onion and you're good to go!

The ingredients can all be prepared in advance, which makes these nachos a totally viable option for meal prepping. Just throw it all on some tortilla chips when you get home from class or work and dig in! Be proactive, just like Ignacio, and you'll be rewarded with his gift to humanity. 

Love and meows, Rina

Vegan Nachos


Servings: 4 (I am the last one to judge you if this shrinks down to 1)

Prep Time: 5-10m | Cook Time: 45m | Total Time: 50-55m

Category: Main, Snacks, Vegan

Source: inspired by the amazing nachos at Om Cafe in Ferndale, MI; salsa verde from Cookie + Kate

Note: it's almost laughable to call this a recipe, because the beauty of nachos is that you can put any amount of any ingredient you want onto them. I've given ballpark measurements for the ingredients I used in my favorite nachos - use more, less or none of what you see below and add in your favorites!



1 head cauliflower

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Salt, to taste

roasted corn guacamole:

2 avocados (or more, depending on how much guacamole you want)

½ cup corn

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Juice of 1 lime

Red pepper flakes

¼-½ teaspoon cumin

salsa verde:

1 ½ pounds (around 12 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed

1-2 medium jalapenos (depending on how spicy you want it), stemmed and seeded

½ medium white onion, diced

¼ cup packed cilantro leaves

Juice from 1-2 medium limes

½ to 1 teaspoon salt, to taste

the rest:

Tortilla chips

1 (12 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed

¼ of a red onion, sliced or diced

½ cup tomato OR handful of cherry tomatoes, diced


Prepare the cauliflower: preheat the oven to 425 degrees and cut the cauliflower into tiny florets (around the size of a black bean). Toss in the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and place on the baking tray in a single layer - no need to line with parchment paper or foil! Stick in the oven and toss every 15 minutes, so that the cauliflower caramelizes but doesn't burn. When the cauliflower is golden brown and dark brown in some spots, it's good to go. In my oven this takes about 45 minutes.

Prepare the tomatillos and jalapenos: once the cauliflower is done, turn your oven onto the broiler setting (or the highest temperature, if your oven doesn't have this). Place the husked, rinsed tomatillos and jalapenos in a baking dish and move an oven rack to about 4 inches below the heat source. Stick the tomatillos and peppers under the broiler for about 5 minutes, until they're starting to blacken in spots. Using a pair of tongs, flip them over and cook for 4-6 more minutes, until they're all charred and blistery and delicious.

Prepare the salsa: while the tomatillos and jalapenos are blackening, place the diced onion, cilantro, lime juice and salt in a food processor or blender. Once the tomatillos and jalapenos are done, place them and all of their juices into the processor/blender as well. Pulse until the mixture is mostly smooth and without any big chunks, scraping the sides down with a spatula if necessary. Add more lime juice or salt to taste.

Roast the corn: my go-to method for this is to place about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sautee pan over medium-high heat, and to cook the corn until it's roasty and dark brown in spots. Only stir every few minutes so that the corn kernels have time to really brown.

Prepare the guacamole: in a medium bowl, spoon in the avocado (no need to dice beforehand) and give a rough chop with a spoon or masher. Add in the lime juice, cumin, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and chop a bit more, making sure all the ingredients are incorporated. Add in the roasted corn and stir to combine. Add more salt, red pepper flakes or lime juice to taste.

Prepare the nachos: on a large plate or baking tray, put down one even layer of tortilla chips. Scatter the red onion, tomatoes, black beans and roasted cauliflower. Do as many layers as you wish, alternating chips with veggies. On the top layer, drizzle with the salsa verde and a big dollop of the roasted corn guacamole. To garnish, sprinkle some chopped cilantro leaves on top. Serve immediately.

To keep: the individual ingredients will keep well in the fridge (the guacamole will brown a bit in the fridge but will still taste delicious), but tortilla chips and fridges are enemies. Just assemble the nachos right before you want to eat them.