Adapted from Matt Preston

Serves 6

We don’t really associate Jews and Mexican food, yet from the earliest time that the European conquistadors made their way west from Europe to the Americas, Jews were more often than not on the ships along with them. Often as ‘New Christians’/Conversos. Many of these Jews and New Christians had long been esteemed as navigators and map makers. Essential to a successful voyage.

Neuvo Leon in the North East of Mexico was settled by Luis de Carabajal, a converso, born in Portugal in 1537 and raised in the Spanish court. He sailed along with his family members and was granted permission to settle the Neuvo Leon area, the venture didn’t prove too successful. Between raids from the natives and the Inquisition that would eventually arrest Crabajal and his extended family, it was a doomed venture. That said the Jewish ties to South and Central America are as old as the European one and some of the foods of Neuvo Leon hark back to the Converso settlers. One district bread of the region is called Pan de Semita meaning ‘Semitic Bread’ distinctive because it is unleavened – perhaps a form of matza being made by the conversos in the New World?

But Conquistadors and Inquisition aside, this dish is all about family favorites and this is one of our movie night go-to snacks. I’m a bit obsessed with Master Chef Australia and especially their master classes. I watched Matt Preston make this dish and knew that my Nachos needed a Matt Preston upgrade! Here are our movie night nachos with a dinosaur upgrade.


** Dinosaur nachos need to be served as soon as they come out of the oven, otherwise, the tortilla chips disintegrate, that said, the bean mixture can be made up to 4 days ahead of time and the assembly takes minutes. Alternatively, if the whole ‘serve immediately’ thing feels like way too much pressure, make the bean mix ahead of time, reheat with the cheese alone as a topping, and serve warm – with tortilla chips on the side.

***Fresh coriander is a flavor I love, and the stems are soft and hold a massive amount of flavor, for this dish the stems are used in the guacamole and the leaves are a garnish for the finished dish.

****For a vegan dish, leave out the cheese or serve with vegan cheese.

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 1 medium red onion, peeled and finely diced

  • 1 red pepper, cored and finely diced

  • 1 clove garlic minced

  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander

  • 2 teaspoon cumin

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

  • 240ml (1 cup) vegetable stock

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 800g (2x 14 ounce cans) tinned black beans, drained

  • 400g (1x 14 ounce can) tinned chopped tomatoes

  • 165g (1 cup) frozen corn kernels

  • Flaky sea salt to taste

For Guacamole:

  • 2 ripe avocados, peeled, stone removed and chopped

  • 2 limes

  • Stems from ½ cup of fresh coriander, finely chopped

  • Flaky sea salt to taste

To assemble and serve:

  • 1 large bag tortilla chips

  • 150g (1 ½ cups) grated mild cheese (divided)

  • Leaves from ½ cup of fresh coriander

  • Limes

  1. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the oil, once the oil is shimmering add the onions and pepper and stirring occasionally cook until the onions are very soft and starting to turn golden, stir in the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds until the garlic is fragrant.

  2. To the vegetables add; the coriander, cumin, smoked paprika, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper (if using), stir the spices well into the vegetables and cook until fragrant, another 30 seconds. Add the vegetable stock to the pan and using a wooden spoon scrape up any browned bits from the bottom and mix in, add the bay leaf. Allow the mixture to bubble away until the liquid is reduced by half and you have a sludgy looking mix. Add in the black beans and chopped tomatoes, lower the heat so the mixture simmers but doesn’t boil, cook for 30 minutes.

  3. Add the frozen corn and cook until the corn is warmed through. Taste the mixture and adjust seasoning with salt. The bean mixture can be made well ahead of time, Once cooled it will keep in the fridge for 4 days. Reheat completely before proceeding with assembly and serving.

For Guacamole:

  1. Place peeled and chopped avocados in a large bowl, add the finely chopped coriander stems, season with lime juice and salt, taste and adjust as you go adding a bit of lime juice and salt until you reach guacamole perfection.

To Assemble and Serve:

  1. Heat oven to 180℃ (350℉). Place hot bean mixture into an oven-safe casserole dish. Stager the tortilla chips to resemble the spines of a dinosaur, fill in any gaps so the top is totally covered in tortilla chips that are spikey and standing upright. Sprinkle 100g (1 cup) cheese over the tortilla chips and place in the oven for the cheese to melt and the chips to crisp up, about 15 minutes.

  2. Once toasted and browned, pull out of the oven and top with remaining cheese and chopped coriander leaves, serve immediately alongside guacamole.