I live across the road from a convenience store, for better or for worse. It’s owned by an incredibly sweet family whose patriarch fought in the Korean War who greets me with “Melanie! My friend! My lovely neighbour!” and who often asks me to sing him songs (I always choose this one because my inner five year old refuses to die) or help him interpret bits of the Bible because he doesn’t trust the Korean translations he owns and I somehow have “Catholic guilt” stamped on my forehead. Sometimes I fix his ATM for him and get Häagen Dazs in return.
On another wonderful life front of surreal relationships, my mister is on the board of directors for a local art gallery and makes a point of attending all of the openings and brings back what we affectionately refer to as “pocket cheese” or “purse cheese” because “gallery cheese” is FAR too snooty for us.
All of that to say that purse cheese + convenience store neighbour = a super-lazy cook’s dream.
Last night, I was a super-lazy cook and determined to get rid of a bunch of the purse cheese, so I put together this meal of nachos entirely from purse cheese + convenience store foods that was both delicious and not stupidly spendy. I spent <$13 on stuff that I did not have on hand AND used up stuff that needed to be used up AND made enough to serve four, so that’s basically $3.25 per plate.
You can also omit all of the dairy (it really is rich and flavourful enough to go without it), making it even more cheaperer…for a convenience store meal.
What you need:
- 1 bag of nachos (3.50 from the convenience store)
- 1 can of black beans ($1.29 from convenience store)
- 1 can of corn niblets ($1.29 from convenience store)
- 1 cooking onion, finely chopped (on hand)
- 1.5 cups cheese, shredded (on hand)
- 1-2 cups of whatever assortment diced of veg that will cook somewhat quickly and that you might have on hand – recommendations: peppers, scallions, tomatoes, spinach, arugula, kale, scallions, leeks (I just used arugula that was on its way out, but I felt red peppers would have been a great addition) – diced
- 1-2 tbsp chili powder (on hand)
- 2 tsp onion or garlic powder (on hand)
- Salsa for serving ($4 from convenience store)
- Sour cream for serving ($2.29 from convenience store)
- Oil for frying (on hand)
- 1/2 cup water (our seasonal draft)
What you do:
- In a large, oven-proof skillet (I love my big cast-iron dude for this), heat oil over medium heat.
- Add the chopped onion and cook until it just begins to brown.
- While the onions are cooking, drain and rinse the black beans.
- Once the onions have just browned, add the beans to the skillet.
- Add the spices and stir.
- Using the backside of your stirring tool, mush some of the beans (about 1/3 of them) into the bottom of the pan and stir in the water.
- Let the mixture in the skillet simmer for two minutes.
- Add the corn.
- Move the skillet mixture to a bowl.
- Preheat oven to 425.
- Give the skillet a good rinse – we need it clean enough to cook the nachos in.
- Add about a tablespoon of oil to the skillet and turn to coat.
- Place a layer of nachos at the bottom of the skillet, distributing evenly to cover.
- Distribute half of the beans and corn mixture over the nachos.
- Sprinkle half of whatever veg you came up with over the mixture.
- Sprinkle half of the cheese over the veg.
- Repeat the layers: nachos > bean mix > veg > cheese.
- Put the skillet in the preheated oven and cook for about ten minutes, until cheese is bubbling.
- Serve with salsa and sour cream.