What is it about finger foods? They seem extra satisfying to eat, more interactive than consuming food with a fork, sometimes messy, and always fun. It’s a whole experience. And the ultimate finger food has got to be nachos. But with the fried chips and indulgent toppings, they can be a bit of a calorie disaster. A plate of the Factory Nachos with Spicy Chicken at The Cheesecake Factory roll in at 2,950 calories. Even if you share them with 1 or 2 other people, it’s craziness.
What if you could enjoy the satisfaction of repeatedly scooping crunchy nacho deliciousness from a platter piled high with toppings? But each bite was nutritious and packed with healthy protein? Sounds like the perfect job for Mini Pepper Nachos with Tempeh.
If you’re not familiar with tempeh, this would an excellent way to try the powerhouse plant protein for the first time. It’s a fermented food, typically made with soybeans. I consider it a wonderful alternative to tofu, if you’re looking for something less squishy with more texture. It browns easily and is versatile enough to be a hearty base for chili, stir-fry, potato hash, or nachos.
You can get creative with the toppings and use your favorites, of course, if this particular combo doesn’t light your nacho fire. For some reason, I’ve always thought the savory flavor of salty “taco seasoned” proteins is a great combination with sweet, juicy mango.
Some recipes for tempeh ask you to steam it first with a goal of reducing potential bitterness. I’m usually too lazy or hurried to take the time for this additional step. And, my tastebuds are quite satisfied with the “regular” flavor of tempeh, dumped straight from the package into the skillet.
If you’ve never bought tempeh before, it’s pretty much everywhere now. My Fred Meyer/Kroger has it in the refrigerated Natural Foods section and Trader Joe’s has it next to the tofu. These days you can even find it at Target and Walmart.
You could make this recipe vegan pretty easily by making swaps for the sharp chedddar and sour cream. There are some fantastic plant-based cheeses on the market. This review from The Spruce Eats picked Chao as the best cheddar and this Good Housekeeping review put Violife in the #1 spot. And on the off chance you go crazy and eat the entire pan of nachos, vegan or not, you’ll still only get a third of the calories as the ones at Cheesecake Factory.
So if your fingers need a task and your stomach needs a high protein dinner heavy on veggies and fruit, this recipe is begging to be popped in your broiler.