When you think of nachos, you usually picture the version that’s served at a sporting event.. A pile of chips in a plastic container, loaded with liquidy cheese that you pump out of a dispenser, and topped with canned jalapeno rings. I mean, those are still pretty amazing when washed down with a big over priced beer, but if you’re looking for something a little healthier, a little more filling, and elevated enough that you could serve at your next party.. then this is the recipe for you.
Two layers of tortilla chips, pan seared chicken breast strips, roasted butternut squash, green onion, and Monterrey Jack cheese are baked together in a cast iron skillet until they’re perfect equal parts melty and crisp. Then they get a festive layer of sweet and spicy pomegranate salsa that’s just as delicious and addicting by itself as it is on the nachos. The best part is that you can still wash them down with a big glass of beer, because you know I did! 😉
(makes 4 servings)
1 to 1 1/2lb butternut squash
4 Tbs olive oil, divided
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 to 4 stalks of green onion, diced
8oz Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
Avocado or sour cream (optional)
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (about 1/2 of a large pomegranate)
1/2 of medium sized red onion
1 jalapeño pepper (seeds/ribs removed if you want it less spicy)
2 Tbs fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Juice from half a lime
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with foil.
Peel the butternut squash and then dice into bite sized cubes. I find it easiest to cut it into inch thick disks, cut the disks into 3 or 4 strips, then finally into cubes (like cutting up potatoes). Don’t forget to scrape out the seeds and stringy insides in the bottom portion of the squash. Add squash to prepared baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Combine seasonings in a zip-lock bag or small bowl and mix until completely combined. Sprinkle about half of the seasoning over the butternut squash cubes and then toss or stir to coat evenly. Place butternut squash in the oven to bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. The squash can actually be prepped and baked a day or two ahead of time.
Drop oven temperature to 400 degrees F and place a 10″ inch cast iron skillet on the middle rack.
While the squash is baking you can cook the chicken.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to high heat. Sprinkle remaining seasoning on both sides of the chicken breasts and carefully place in the skillet once oil is hot. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Adjust heat to a low/medium setting and continue to cook another 2-3 minutes. Cut into the center of one of the chicken breasts to ensure it’s thoroughly cooked. Set aside on a plate to rest and cover with foil. This allows the juice to run back into the meat after being cooked so you don’t wind up with dry chicken. Once the chicken has rested for 5-10 minutes, slice into small bite sized pieces.
Using pot holders, remove the cast iron skillet from the oven. Layer the bottom of the skillet with tortilla chips, add about half of the chicken, butternut squash, and green onion. Top with half of the shredded cheese and then create a second layer of chips, followed by the remaining chicken, squash, green onion, and then hopefully you know the drill by now… the remaining cheese.
Place in the oven to bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
While waiting for your nachos to bake, combine all of your salsa ingredients in a medium sized bowl and stir to mix.
When nachos are finished baking, remove from the oven, dish them up, and top with the pomegranate salsa. Serve right away.