Nachos are a go-to weeknight dinner in our home when the day has been a bit more crazy than usual. What’s not to like? Nachos are quick and easy – a few vegetables and perhaps a bit of protein tossed in a hot skillet, all topped with a bit of cheese, and you’re good to go. They’re positively craveable. The trouble is that nachos can tip into unhealthy territory pretty quick. And, if you’re on a low-sodium diet, that can be even more challenging. What’s the trick into keeping them out of the junk food category? Flavor!
Key to Flavor
I have a family member who requires a low-sodium diet. As a result, we learned early on that the key to satisfaction without salt is to amp up the flavor in other ways – zesty warm spices, tangy citrus notes, and a nice balance of sweet and heat. One of my favorite ways to give food a little zip is to use Creole seasoning. I use it on chicken thighs, pork chops, turkey tenderloin, and seafood. See, I was born in Georgia, but I spent my entire elementary school-age experience in Rapides Parish, Louisiana. Growing up in Louisiana had a huge impact on my palate. Mama didn’t know many people when she moved there, so she set out to explore her new home via local cookbooks. This set me on a path to understanding and learning about different foods. I grew up with our family attending and hosting crawfish and fresh-from-the-Gulf shrimp boils. Mama also cooked different kinds of gumbo, jambalaya, etouffée, and red beans and rice. More often than not this had her reaching for a container of Tony Chachere’s Famous Creole Seasoning.
Spice it Up!
In honor of February and Heart Health Month, I’ve partnered with Tony Chachere’s Famous Creole Cuisine to celebrate its brand new No Salt Seasoning Blend and created a recipe for Creole Shrimp Nachos with Creamy Queso. Often when I make nachos, I simply sprinkle the cheese on top of the chips and pop them in the oven. What takes nachos over the top? Queso! In this recipe for Creole Shrimp Nachos with Creamy Queso, I double down on the bold Creole flavor by sautéing the sweet onion, earthy poblano pepper, and tender shrimp with the Tony Chachere’s No Salt Seasoning Blend and using a heaping tablespoon in the creamy queso sauce.
How-to Make Nachos
The key to nacho toppings is that all the bits of goodness are the right size for the chips. Consequently, the onion and poblano are diced and I use small shrimp instead of larger shrimp so they’ll fit on top. You could use larger shrimp and dice them, but why pay more for larger shrimp that you then have to chop? (I generally keep a bag of frozen sustainable wild American shrimp in the freezer. They defrost quickly and are great for a quick weeknight supper such as these nachos.) I sprinkle the Creole-spiced shrimp and vegetables on top of the chips, then pour over the Creole-spiked queso.
You could stop there, and simply eat them straight off the baking sheet, but let’s give these nachos a little Creole-inspired lagniappe of sliced sweet peppers, jalapeno, and scallions. Pop them in the oven just long enough to heat things up all the way through. Then, just before serving scatter over a handful of freshly picked cilantro leaves. Oh-so-good!
And, by using Tony Chachere’s No Salt Seasoning Blend, reduced sodium chips (you could use reduced sodium baked chips, too), low fat milk, Monterey Jack, a low-sodium cheese, lots of vegetables, and a judicious amount of shrimp – you’ve got a heart-healthy weeknight supper in about 20 minutes.
To try Tony Chachere’s No Salt Seasoning Blend – and all their other great spices, marinades, and seasoning blends – visit TonyChacheres.com. Readers, friends, and fans can use the code VIRGINIAFREE15 for Free Shipping on purchases over $15!
Bon Appétit, Y’all!
Creole Shrimp Nachos with Creamy Queso
- 6 ounces baked tortilla chips (about ½ of a 12 ounce bag)
- nonstick spray
- 1 sweet onion diced
- 1 poblano pepper cored, seeded, and diced
- 1 pound shrimp 40/60 count peeled and deveined
- 2 tablespoons Tony Chachere’s No Salt Seasoning Blend, or your favorite Creole blend divided
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 4 tablespoons all purpose flour or chickpea flour
- 2 cups low fat milk
- 8 ounces grated part skim Monterey Jack cheese
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, sliced
- 1 sweet red pepper, sliced
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves
Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick silicone baking sheet, aluminum foil, or parchment. Sprinkle over the chips in one layer; set aside.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with nonstick spray. Add the onion and poblano pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and the peppers are tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the shrimp in a bowl and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle over the Creole Seasoning and stir to combine.
Add the seasoned shrimp to the onion-pepper mixture and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are pink, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
Heat the butter and oil in a saucepan, whisk in the flour and cook for a minute or two until foaming. Pour in the milk and bring to a boil, whisking constantly until the sauce thickens. Simmer until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes. Add the cheese and Creole seasoning; stir to combine.
Once the queso is ready, evenly scatter the shrimp, onions, and peppers over the tortilla chips. Pour the warm queso over the chips and shrimp mixture. Top with chopped scallions, jalapeno, and sweet red pepper. Transfer to the oven and cook just until everything is heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and scatter over cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.
Disclaimer: When there’s an appropriate mutually beneficial opportunity I partner for sponsored blog posts. In full disclosure, I was provided product to work with by Tony Chachere’s for recipe development and compensated for this blog post and its social media promotion.