12 March 2022

Weekend Cooking: Nachos for Dinner by Dan Whalen

Book cover for Nachos for Dinner by Dan WhalenWho doesn't like nachos? They're one of my favorite treats, and I love serving them to friends for a snack-like dinner to go with drinks on the deck.

When I saw that I could request a copy of Dan Whalen's Nachos for Dinner (published in January) as part of my membership on the Workman Ambassador Team, I jumped on the chance. Even though I'm an old hand at nachos, I was especially curious about this book because Whalen takes nachos to a whole new level.

As always when I review a Workman cookbook, I have to stop and take a few minutes to rave about the publisher's design department. I love the bright, festive colors used in Nachos for Dinner. They remind me of when I lived in the Southwest or visited Mexico. The colors are used for the recipe titles and information headings and are carried through to the helpful charts and are even seen in the background of the beautiful photographs.

Of course, a cookbook should be more than just a pretty face, and Nachos for Dinner has surprising depth. We get recipes for chips, salsas, sauces, main fillings, and toppings. Besides nachos for dinner, Whelan provides recipes for snack nachos and even dessert nachos. Meat lovers, vegetarians, and vegans will all find recipes to suit their needs. And the chip alternatives will catch the eye of the gluten-free crowd.

Photo of fish nachos from Nachos for Dinner by Dan WhalenThe best part about this cookbook is the diversity of ideas for dishes that can be, as Whalen says, "nachofied." Yes, there are beef, bean, and shrimp fillings, but you'll also find riffs on curried chickpeas, tuna poke, caprese salad, French onion soup, scallion pancakes, chicken tikka masala, mushroom tofu, and much, much more. But the incredible variety of nachos and nachofied dishes is only one of the reasons to buy or borrow Nachos for Dinner.

What I love about the cookbook is that recipes can be used for non-nacho meals. Whelan gets us started by providing a chart for combining recipes to build burritos. Of course, almost all the fillings would be happy in taco shells. I, however, wouldn't stop there. For example, the Crispy Cod recipe could be used for fish and chips, and the cumin-roasted cauliflower could be the star of a grain bowl.

I much appreciate Whalen's guidance when it comes to some of the more unusual nachos. When he tells us about how he came up with Cobb Salad Nachos, he's careful to explain why the recipe works; we can use this information to make our own versions of salad nachos. Many of the recipes come with extra inspiration for creating customized nachos by suggesting alternate salsas and toppings.

A fun bonus of Nachos for Dinner are the non-chip nachos. One of these is Chicken Parm Not-Chos (the chicken is cut into triangles). Lasagn'chos use fried pasta instead of tortilla chips, the Lamb Gyro Nachos use pita bread, and the Cheesy Bacon Potato Chipchos use crinkle-cut potato chips. I'm starting to look at all kinds of things as possible chip substitutions.

Nachos for Dinner is an all-in-one nacho resource. Whalen gives us tips for success, recipes for cheese sauces (including vegan variations), lots of salsas, a couple of slaws, quick pickled veggies, cremas, guacs, and other nacho toppings and add-ins. Oh, and don't forget the recipe for homemade chips. Throughout the cookbook, you'll find charts and sidebars that will help you build nachos, make variations on the salsas, and so on. I haven't yet cooked from the dessert chapter, but I think sweet nachos would be an awesome way to end a casual dinner. Raspberry Cheesecake Nachos anyone?

Photo of a sheet pan with ground meat nachos from Nachos for Dinner by Dan WhalenI've just begun to cook from Nachos for Dinner. So far, I tried the Classic Nacho, using Taco-Style Ground Beef (the photo shows the nachos fresh from the broiler & before the toppings) and Southwestern Chicken Nachos. For both those dinners, I made the suggested cremas and salsas from the recipes in the book. Both dinners were hits. I have Fish Taco Nachos on the plan for the coming week (see the scan above).

This is a fun and inspiring cookbook to add to your collection. I highly recommend Nachos for Dinner by Dan Whalen as a buy or library book. As I mentioned, the recipes in the book can be used for a variety of dishes beside nachos, but Mr. BFR and I are happy to explore all the nacho options. For more about Dan Whalen, visit his blog Food in My Beard and/or follow him on Instagram.

The recipe I'm sharing is for Avocado Crema, which I drizzled over the chicken nachos.

Avocado Crema
Makes 1 to 1.5 cups

  • 1 cup sour cream (dairy or vegan)
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Pinch of kosher salt
Place all the ingredients in a blender (or in a large bowl if using a hand blender) and pulse until smooth and creamy. Use a funnel to pour the mixture into a squeeze bottle. The crema will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days (it will start to brown over time as the avocado oxidizes).

Note: The scan and the recipe are used in the context of a review; all rights remain with the original copyright holders. The photo is my own. Thanks to Workman Publishing for the review copy; my thoughts are my own & are unbiased.

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)


gluten Free A_Z Blog 3/12/22, 7:41 AM  

As soon as I just saw the title of the cookbook, I thought to myself, "what a great idea"- "who doesn't love tacos!" Then I read your opening line.. lol . It looks like an interesting book with lots of good recipes. Thanks

Tina 3/12/22, 8:13 AM  

You had me in that book title! We love nachos and occasionally make them for our “fake away” dinner to go with a movie. I want that book.

rhapsodyinbooks 3/12/22, 9:22 AM  

What a great idea for recipes, thanks for sharing this!!!

Jackie McGuinness 3/12/22, 9:38 AM  

I am also a big fan of the colours of Mexico. I started following him, thanks.

Mae Travels 3/12/22, 9:46 AM  

Why not make everything into nachos? As traditions go, they are pretty old: date from the 1940s. I read this: "Ignacio 'Nacho' Anaya created nachos at the Victory Club in 1940 when Mamie Finan, a regular customer, asked if Anaya could bring her and three other women a different snack than usual. In Spanish, "Nacho" is a common nickname for Ignacio."

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! 3/12/22, 11:05 AM  

What a fun book! I could make Nachos out of just about anything as they are so fun to eat, and the Avocado Crema recipe will be made...thanks!

Vicki 3/12/22, 3:03 PM  

I made Nachos Thursday night! We love them!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 3/12/22, 8:41 PM  

I tried to leave comments previously but, the capchas got me from my phone:( I just said to my husband I'm dying for nachos - this book sounds awesome and should definitely cure my cravings :)

Sherry's Pickings 3/14/22, 5:23 AM  

i love avocado so the crema sounds fabulous.

(Diane) bookchickdi 3/14/22, 1:28 PM  

This cookbook is calling my name! I love nachos and being creative with them. Thanks for the great review.

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