Loaded Pita Nachos with Lentil Chili and Feta Queso


In this recipe for plant-based nachos, pita chips are drizzled with a feta queso and then laden with lentil chili, harissa-spiked pickled cabbage, and a dollop of creamy labneh. Make the chips, queso, and cabbage ahead of time to help this dish come together easily, or use store-bought pita chips, if desired. The tangy feta queso gets its smooth body from the addition of red lentils and is a versatile ingredient on its own, says Cassie Piuma of Sarma in Somerville, Massachusetts: "We use this queso in mac and cheese and sub it in as a sauce for eggplant parm or moussaka."

Active Time:
1 hr 10 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 45 mins


Pickled Cabbage

  • 3 cups packed shredded red cabbage

  • ¼ cup rose harissa paste (such as Belazu)

  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

Pita Chips

  • 6 (7-inch) pita rounds, each cut into 8 triangles

  • 1 cup olive oil

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste

Lentil Chili

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • 1 small red onion, chopped (about 1 3/4 cups)

  • 1 medium-size fresh poblano chile, stemmed, seeded, and chopped (about 1 cup)

  • 1 medium-size fresh red Fresno chile, stemmed, seeded (if desired), and finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)

  • 8 small garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1 (1 1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander

  • 1 ½ teaspoons Aleppo pepper

  • ¾ cup uncooked black beluga lentils (about 6 oz.)

  • 2 ½ cups water

  • 3 large tomatoes (about 1 1/2 lb.), stemmed, cored, and roughly chopped (about 4 cups)

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Feta Queso

  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

  • cup roughly chopped white onion

  • 1 medium fresh red Fresno chile, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped (about 2 tablespoons)

  • 2 small garlic cloves, smashed

  • ¼ cup uncooked red lentils (1 1/2 ounces)

  • 1 ¾ cups water, divided

  • 6 ounces French goat milk feta cheese, broken into large pieces

  • 1 ounce hot pickled cherry pepper slices (about 2 tablespoons)

  • Kosher salt, to taste

Additional Ingredients

  • ½ cup labneh (strained yogurt)

  • Crumbled feta cheese, chopped fresh cilantro, and Aleppo pepper, for garnish


Make the pickled cabbage

  1. Toss together cabbage and harissa in a medium-size nonreactive bowl until well coated. Add vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, and salt; toss to combine. Cover and chill at least 1 hour, tossing occasionally.

Make the pita chips

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Toss together pita triangles and oil in a large bowl, gently massaging oil into pita. Arrange pita in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet; sprinkle evenly with salt. Bake until golden brown and crisp, 55 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes, tossing every 20 minutes. Add additional salt to taste. Let cool completely.

Make the lentil chili

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add onion, poblano, Fresno chile, garlic, and ginger; cook, stirring often, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in cumin, coriander, and Aleppo pepper; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add beluga lentils and 21/2 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes have mostly broken down and chili has thickened, 25 to 30 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, and season with additional salt to taste. Cover and keep warm over low.

Make the feta queso

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small saucepan over medium. Add onion, Fresno chile, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add red lentils, and carefully pour in 1 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally, until lentils are very tender and begin to fall apart, about 15 minutes.

  2. Transfer red lentil mixture to a blender. Remove top insert of blender lid; cover hole with a kitchen towel. With blender running, gradually add feta, pickled cherry peppers, 1/4 cup water, and remaining 1/4 cup oil. Process until smooth and silky, 1 to 2 minutes, adding up to remaining 1/2 cup water, 2 tablespoons at a time, to thin mixture to a pourable consistency. Season with salt to taste.

  3. Arrange pita chips on a large platter, and drizzle with 1 cup feta queso. Using a slotted spoon, add 2 cups lentil chili to center of pita chips. Drain pickled cabbage in a fine wire-mesh strainer, and season with salt, if desired. Pile cabbage on top of lentil chili, and top with labneh. Garnish with feta, cilantro, and Aleppo. Serve with remaining feta queso.

    Loaded Pita Nachos with Lentil Chili and Feta Queso
    Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

Make Ahead

Pickled cabbage and feta queso can be stored in airtight containers in refrigerator up to 2 days; pita chips can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days. Reheat feta queso in a small saucepan over low heat.

Suggested Pairing

Earthy, spicy Rhône-style red: Dirty & Rowdy California Familiar Mourvèdre

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