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February 2, 2011 in main course, vegetarian1 comment

Step 1: Open a Bag of Fritos

In honor of Snowpocalypse 2011, try this quick to assemble Mexican-style dish made from ingredients that are probably already in your pantry. Makes a yummy Super Bowl treat too!

frito pie, i reckon. mm hmm.

Do you ever read something, get entirely the wrong impression, and walk around carrying that impression, like a treasured memento or a nursed wound, for ages before realizing you were mistaken?

For some reason I got Fritos in my head when I first read the recipe for Jeanne Lemlin’s 10 Minute Chilaquiles, from her surprisingly excellent Vegetarian Classics : 300 Essential and Easy Recipes for Every Meal.

Cooking with Junk Food

frito pie ingredients

Neat! I thought. I get to cook with junk food! And I joyfully bought a big bag of Fritos on my next shopping trip. I proudly plopped it onto the conveyor belt at checkout, smug in the knowledge that, HA! I wasn’t going to chomp on them sitting on some hundred-dollar secondhand couch, oh no, not I.

i'm going to eat that?

I was going to cook with them. I was going to cook with Fritos.

And I did, and lo, the people ate of it and it was good.

vegetarian frito pie "sauce"

But something always nagged at the back of my mind. I had a dim memory of chilaquiles being a use for stale or broken tortilla chips, not delicious monstrosities like Fritos. The omnipresent and omniscient Elise Bauer confirmed my suspicions.

And I found that my beloved 10 Minute Chilaquiles were actually…

the next layer: chips & goop

Drum roll please…

Frito pie.

Step 1: Open a Bag of Fritos

next: add more chips!

I embraced it, the Frito pie. I mean, shit, it tastes good. It’s fairly nutritious, with protein, calcium, and a good deal of veggies from the salsa and tomato sauce. Each of six gigantic servings runs 500 calories. Serve this with salad and you can easily get by with half or two-thirds of a serving.

time to go into the oven!

You really can’t go wrong with a recipe that begins with “open a bag of Fritos,” can you?

Vegetarian Frito Pie

This will be pretty salty if you use regular Fritos, so cut back on the salt where you can in this — a lower-sodium corn chip, perhaps, or no-salt-added tomato sauce. Feel free to mix up the beans or cheese or salsa, or use low-fat sour cream. I’ve made this with black beans as well as pinto and kidney, and with pepper jack and mozzarella instead of plain jack cheese. (I liked the larger beans more than the small black beans in this.)


    1 (14– or 15–ounce) can pinto or kidney beans, rinsed, or 1½ cups homemade pinto or kidney beans
    1 cup salsa, your choice of hotness
    1 (14– or 15– ounce) can tomato sauce, no salt added preferable (the corn chips add quite enough salt, thank you very much)
    ½ cup water
    1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, undrained
    ½ teaspoon dried oregano
    ½ teaspoon ground cumin

The rest:

    11 ounces of Fritos or other corn chips (a 9-ounce bag is fine, too)
    1 cup sour cream
    2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F.

You’re going to be layering the sauce, chips, sour cream, and cheese in a 7 x 12 or 9 x 13 pan. First spread half the bean sauce in the bottom of the pan/dish. Then add half of the corn chips. Dollop half the sour cream on the chips in small spoonfuls. Sprinkle half the cheese over that.

There! Half done. Now spread the rest of the chips atop all of that, pour the rest of the sauce over everything, dollop the rest of the sour cream on top, and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of everything.

Bake for 35 minutes in a 350-degree oven, until hot. Make happy noises while nomming.

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  1. Michiel says:

    In the 1970′s we had frito pie served to us on a regular scale out of our school cafeteria in Oklahoma. We have it here at home a lot, and here in WV, no one has ever heard of it. It’s how we eat our chili: over fritos and sprinkled with cheddar and onions. Not as healthy as your vegetarian version, but so easy.

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