February 4, 2009 in Features

Get creative with your baked potatoes

By Steve Petusevsky South Florida Sun-Sentinel
 

Lately I’ve been on this stuffed baked potato kick. I bake a few large russet potatoes on the weekend or when I get home from work. Sometimes I rub them with oil and sprinkle them with kosher salt. Other times I simply wash and put them in a 375-degree oven, then forget them for an hour or until they are tender.

You can speed the process by microwaving the potatoes on high for 12 to 15 minutes and then finishing them in the oven.

Russets are the large all-purpose potatoes that have a low moisture content, so they are great for mashing and stuffing.

I’ve tried Yukon gold potatoes, which I really like, and yams. But I always come back to russets.

After removing the potatoes from the oven, I let them sit until they are cool enough to handle. If they are really large, I halve them lengthwise and scoop out the white flesh, leaving a 1/2-inch-thick shell. This gives me two “boats” to hold the fillings.

If the potatoes are medium size, I cut off the top inch lengthwise and scoop out the insides.

In both cases, I save all the insides that I’ve scooped out to use for stuffing. Some of my favorite fillings are Broccoli, Cheddar and Roast Pepper Stuffed Potatoes, and my Spinach, Mushroom, Asiago and Caramelized Garlic Stuffed Potatoes.

You can be creative and come up with your own combinations. Round out your meal with a simple salad.

Broccoli, Cheddar and Roast Pepper Stuffed Potatoes

3 large russet potatoes, well washed

2 teaspoons olive oil plus more for rubbing potatoes, optional

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for sprinkling potatoes, optional

1/2 cup chopped onions

2 cups chopped broccoli florets

3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided

1/4 cup low-fat or fat-free sour cream or plain yogurt

1/4 cup chopped drained canned roasted red peppers

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place potatoes in oven as is or coat with oil and sprinkle with kosher salt, if desired. Bake 50 minutes until tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and broccoli florets and saute 5 minutes until tender, but still al dente. Place in a bowl.

When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut each in half lengthwise and scoop out flesh into bowl with broccoli mixture, leaving six potato shells with 1/2-inch-thick walls.

Add 1/2 cup cheese, sour cream, red peppers, cayenne, 2 teaspoons olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt to broccoli mixture. Combine gently just until mixed. Use to fill the potato shells, mounding the mixture in the shells.

Place on a baking pan with sides and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cheddar cheese. Bake in a 375-degree oven 10 to 12 minutes until heated through, cheese melts and surface is golden brown.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutrition information per serving (using low-fat sour cream): 272 calories (41 percent from fat), 12 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 34 milligrams cholesterol, 29 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 11 grams protein, 304 milligrams sodium.

Nutrition information per serving (using fat-free plain yogurt): 262 calories (39 percent from fat), 12 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 31 milligrams cholesterol, 29 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 11 grams protein, 303 milligrams sodium.

Spinach, Mushroom, Asiago and Caramelized Garlic Stuffed Potatoes

3 large russet potatoes, well washed

2 teaspoons olive oil, optional

Kosher salt, to taste

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup thawed frozen chopped spinach

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

Water, optional

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated asiago cheese, divided

1/4 cup low-fat ricotta cheese

1/2 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place potatoes in oven as is or coat with oil and sprinkle with kosher salt, if desired. Bake 50 minutes until tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, spinach and mushrooms and cook 5 minutes, sprinkling with water as necessary to prevent sticking. Place in a bowl.

When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut each in half lengthwise and scoop out flesh into bowl with spinach mixture, leaving six potato shells with 1/2-inch-thick walls.

Add 1/2 cup asiago cheese, the ricotta and red pepper flakes to the spinach mixture. Combine the mixture gently just until mixed. Use to fill the potato shells, mounding the mixture in the shells.

Place on a baking sheet with sides and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons asiago. Bake in a 375-degree oven 10 to 12 minutes until heated through, cheese melts and surface is golden brown.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutrition information per serving: 204 calories (24 percent from fat), 5 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 12 milligrams cholesterol, 29 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 10 grams protein, 305 milligrams sodium.


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