Dinner doesn’t have to be a complete meal. This is especially true if you’re cooking just for yourself. On certain nights, the right dinner is the snack/appetizer you put together just because.
Dinner improv project: Nachos.
Your materials: 4 small corn tortillas; a bunch of late summer tomatoes (about 1 qt); half an onion, diced; one garlic clove, finely diced; cheddar cheese.
The process: Cut the tomatoes into quarters, remove the stem parts; drizzle them with olive oil, plus a pinch or more of salt and maybe some smoky paprika powder. Roast tomatoes on parchment paper at about 400 degrees or so for 15-20 minutes. I judged their doneness in part on the aroma coming from the oven, because I forgot the exact time I put them in.
Meanwhile, heat enough oil – a neutral like sunflower or canola – to at least coat your cast iron skillet, cut tortillas into strips and fry them into chips (see also the section on making chili garlic chips in this post by PinchMySalt). In a second, smaller pan, soften the diced onion with some olive oil. Keep the heat low and add in the garlic late in the game. Some fresh basil or maybe oregano or thyme is nice here too – in this case I added the basil stems into the oil with the onion and garlic to flavor it – then carefully fished the stems out before serving.
Once the tomatoes have roasted a bit, and the onion softened, add the tomatoes to the onion in the pan. Cook down until most of the tomato liquid thickens into sauce. You could throw in a splash of sherry when the tomatoes first go in the pan, but that’s up to you.
As the chips are draining on a crumpled paper towel, salt them. Arrange chips on a plate, pour your tomato sauce over the chips, and finally grate cheddar over everything. If the cheese is not melted enough, microwave the whole thing a bit – but not too long or the chips will get soggy.
Eat in front of your favorite TV show with a beverage of your choice, and several napkins. A fork might also be necessary, since this tomato sauce might end up quite soggy.