Southern food blogger Cara Greenstein shares her fresh summer sheet pan nachos that turn any gathering into a party.

via Caramelized

This time of year, when outdoor distractions and activities present themselves at a rapid pace, and the longer hours of sunshine leave us lost in a summer daze, I find that the simplest dishes are often the best. Like my summer sheet pan nachos, which require minimal prep and only one pan and create an instant sense of informal community.

Last Saturday morning at my neighborhood farmers' market, I grabbed a couple of ears of sweet white and yellow corn, fresh cilantro, and jalapeños for vibrant notes of spice. A local Mexican restaurant sells their acclaimed homemade tortilla chips and guacamole at the market (which I gladly sampled while walking by the booth), thus inspiring my nacho concept.

These nachos can be nestled in the middle of a Mexican fiesta buffet or plopped on the poolside concrete for a family-friendly afternoon snack. They pair pretty perfectly with frozen margaritas, as well. Though my current combination features shredded roasted chicken, you can top the nachos with anything from flank steak to caramelized onions and mushrooms (for a vegetarian version). And if you have a picky eater in your crew, the beauty of nachos is that you can pick around any "undesirable" ingredients!

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While making a batch of nachos for last weekend’s pool party appetizer, I was reminded of the after-school snacks I made while in grade school, when I’d pop a plate of tortilla chips and shredded Mexican cheese in the microwave for 30 seconds. This version, while much more complex and creative, proves that all ages and all occasions will appreciate the dish’s foundation. These nachos are cheesy, charming, and a guaranteed gathering point.

Click here for Cara Greenstein's Summer Sheet Pan Nachos recipe

Cara Greenstein is author of the award-winning, Memphis-based food and lifestyle brand Caramelized. A bonafide foodie and entertaining expert, Cara shares a wealth of inspiration for the kitchen and home, as well as guides for outings in Memphis and across the South. Her latest venture, the Caramelized Supper Club, offers a "dinner party in a box" subscription service for convenient and creative at-home entertaining.