Baked Potato Nachos with Cilantro Pesto

Planning to be snowed in for a few days, I swung by my local grocery store earlier this week.  I got milk and bananas–what are your family’s core needs?  I considered mine, then added an armful of limes, a handful of green onions, and two bunches of cilantro to my cart.  There.  That should hold us until the weekend.

I know that those of you in other parts of the world might scoff at us Seattleites when four inches of snow paralyze the entire city.  When the airport closes and the local government opens late and the Seattle public schools have been in session for only two hours this week.  But the fact is that it doesn’t snow here that often, and we are just too busy having fun to go to work or school when it does.  The streets (yes, streets) are full of sledders and skiers.  There are snowmen and snow angels to make .  And there is hot chocolate to drink.  With marshmallows.

Times like these call for comfort food.  Also, I had that big pile of cilantro.  I considered making nachos but by the time we’d done a jigsaw puzzle and put the kids to bed early there weren’t many chips left.  I baked a few potatoes earlier this week and love the combination of potatoes and Mexican flavors, and hence these “baked potato nachos” were born.  The key ingredient is the cilantro pesto (my brother’s recipe), which you should probably make in huge batches and freeze in ice cube trays so as to have it available all the time.

First, the Cilantro Pesto: buzz a big clove of garlic, a big pinch of salt, and 1/4 c. pine nuts in your food processor until chopped, then add a bunch of cilantro (stems and all), 1/2 c. grated Parmesan and 1/2 c. olive oil and puree.  Taste and adjust the flavors to perfection.

Then pile up your nacho plate. These, of course, are Baked Potato Nachos, but if you’re not trying to use up your leftover baked potatoes, I can heartily recommend a pile of just-roasted potatoes with these toppings as well.  Either way, layer your diced cooked potatoes with shredded cheese.  (I tossed cold potatoes and cheese into the microwave to heat, but if you’ve just cooked the potatoes you can skip this step since the hot potatoes will melt the cheese.  Doesn’t it taste good just to think about?)  Then pile on your toppings: a good salsa, that cilantro pesto, green onions, some chunks of avocado, maybe a spoonful of sour cream.  Serve with a crunchy salad–the one pictured above is shredded cabbage with a touch of olive oil, a big squeeze of lime, more green onions, and a good sprinkling of the chile verde salt I couldn’t resist at SugarPill.


5 thoughts on “Baked Potato Nachos with Cilantro Pesto

  1. diygrrrl

    Yum! So tell me: is there good salsa in Seattle? Or do you make your own? I’m in Texas but considering grad school in Seattle and I’m not sure I can survive without salsa.

    1. emmycooks Post author

      That is an important consideration if you’re thinking about moving here. Seattle has a lot of things going for it, but it is definitely lacking in Mexican food compared to Texas (I imagine) or California (where I grew up). That said, there are some great options, you just have to seek them out. As for the salsa/grad school issue, my favorite fresh salsas in Seattle actually come from a place called Agua Verde that is basically on the UW campus (the standouts there are the tomatillo and chipotle salsas, and they sell them by the pint to go). If you’re considering a grad program in a different neighborhood, tell me which and I’ll be happy to let you know the local salsa standouts!


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