I love nachos. Who doesn’t? I’ve made various incarnations of nachos in the past: Greek Nachos (ground pork on top of pita chips with tzatziki and feta), shredded chicken nachos on baby bell peppers instead of tortilla chips, and the really delicious Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potato Nachos over on Recipe for History at Blazing Caribou Studios.
But recently I’d been seeing these gorgeous Sicilian eggplant at the Farmers’ Market right out front of my day job and I couldn’t pass up using such striking local produce in a delicious meal! It was a 90+ degree day but since I only had to set the oven to 250 degrees, it wasn’t so bad.
The first step was making eggplant “chips”. I cut off the stem end and sliced the tubby eggplants into 1/8th inch slices. The benefit of Sicilian eggplant is their shape: all the slices you make will be pretty close in size. You want the slices to be sturdy enough when cooked to withstand the hearty toppings but not so thick that they never quite turn into chips.
I sprayed two large baking racks with vegetable oil cooking spray and laid the slices out on top, spraying the tops of them with additional cooking spray. Then I set both racks in a 250 degree oven and waited. And waited. And waited. After 90 minutes I lowered the oven even further, to 170 degrees, and let them back another 30 minutes. What came out of that low and slow oven were sturdy eggplant chips with a slight bendiness: a bit like the texture of dried apples. Turns out it was the perfect platform for the heavy toppings that often accompany nachos. You will not pick these up, take a bit and have the chip disintegrate and lose your toppings all over your lap!
I topped mine with seasoned ground beef, shredded cheddar, black olives, pickled jalapenos, shredded lettuce and tomatoes. Each “chip” held up to being smothered in toppings but gave between the teeth without being tough. Will it replace crunchy pita or tortilla chips? Nah. But is eggplant a way healthier and low calorie substitute to grain based chips. They held up well to a couple of minutes in the broiler to melt the cheese without burning, too. I will definitely make these again!
Firm eggplant slices perfect for topping with nacho stuff!