Here’s another recipe that is a little bit more of a meal idea but we could always use more meal ideas! Also, I have spent too many years messing up baked potatoes (that makes me sound like a horrible cook, I know) not to share this. The baked potatoes come from The New Best Recipe (amazon affiliate link) from Cook’s Illustrated Magazine. One thing to note about this book is that it is very meat centric but the recipes that are either vegetarian, vegan, or adaptable to those types of food are worth the price of admission. I also love the tips and equipment suggestions.
So the baked potato recipe is on pages 180-182, yes they use several pages just for baking potatoes, and they talk about mistakes I myself have always made. The end result is a very basic method that guarantees (in my mind) perfect baked potatoes. I use this method for sweet potatoes as well but adjust the cooking time a little since they cook a lot faster.
My best personal tip is to prep the potatoes, put them in the oven with the light on (so you remember they’re in there) and set a delayed start timer (if your oven has one) for the potatoes to kick on an hour and a half before you need them ready. This has saved me for dinner so many times because afternoons are too late for me to get dinner together. The scrubber I use is the Oxo Vegetable Brush (amazon affiliate link) which is pretty strong so it will take off the skin of red potatoes but does great with russets.
As for the mushrooms and onions, we serve this mixture with a lot of dishes but it makes a great topping here. I first had fresh green beans at my mother in law’s house and to me they were so awesome and different from the canned kind. Crisp, sweet and flavorful, yum! I find with our restrictions I am exploring real veggies and fruits in a way I never did as a vegetarian. Things don’t need to be slathered in cheese to taste good (though I admit I miss fresh mozzarella sometimes).
I have some great meal ideas for leftovers from the baked potatoes, a potato salad and a nice easy breakfast of fried potatoes so I will try to post those and link to them from here. Always nice to work on several meals at once!
Vegetable brush (optional)
Knife, cutting board
Medium sized saucepan
1-2 per person large to medium sized russet potatoes (mine from Costco weigh in at almost a pound apiece, you just need a uniform size so they all take the same baking time) or as many as your oven will fit if you want to use the leftovers
1 pound of green beans, trimmed and chopped into 4 inch sections
1/2 medium onion, sliced into thin crescents
6 large brown or white mushrooms (another Costco staple for us)
2 cloves garlic, minced (or granulated garlic)
2 tablespoons olive oil
bowl of ice water (enough to put the green beans in to shock them)
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil to taste
For the Potatoes: Wash and scrub your potatoes, poke several holes around the outside of the skin and set them directly on your baking rack in the middle of your oven. This is really important. Don’t put them on a pan, don’t cover them in foil, etc. Set your oven for 350 degrees F and your timer for one and a half hours delay started to account for when you’d like to have dinner (so start it at 4 if you want to eat at about 5:30pm) or else just preheat to 350 and then put your potatoes in. Bake for one and one half hours (90 minutes) but check them at 75 minutes to gauge if they are done. They’re ready when you can easily put a fork into them and they don’t give resistance (though the skin may resist a little). Serve with drizzled olive oil, salt, pepper, mushrooms & onions, chopped red peppers. . .pretty much however you like. E loves these with just olive oil, salt, and pepper.
For the Mushrooms and Onions: Heat your frying pan on medium high, add oil when the pan is hot and you will see it shimmer, then reduce heat to medium and add onions. When the onions are soft, add your garlic. After maybe a minute add your sliced mushrooms (thinner slices are best). Fry until the mushrooms have released much of their moisture and serve on top of the baked potato.
Fresh Green Beans: You’re going to blanch the beans, this means that you heat maybe 1 quart of water until boiling and add the beans, cooking them only a minute and a half to two minutes. At this point you’re going to drain the beans and add them to the ice cold water. This way they’ll keep that beautiful green color. Serve with a sprinkle of salt.