Recipe: Stuffed baked potatoes

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I like baked potatoes. I really, really like baked potatoes. I was always the one first in the queue for the baked potato stalls at music festivals (followed by a swift rush over to the crepes one for afters!) If you’re vegetarian, though, you get a bit bored with cheese and beans, or cheese and coleslaw, or cheese and onion (guaranteed bad breath, that one) or the dreaded cottage cheese and pineapple. If you’re vegan, it seems to be beans, beans, beans or hummus.

So here’s one vegetarian and one vegan suggestion for when you want a comfort supper with minimal effort.

I think the original recipe for stuffed baked potatoes came from Delia Smith, but I wouldn’t swear to it. Whatever, it’s dead easy to make and I’m sure you can think of variations on a theme. When the potato is baked to your satisfaction, scoop out the insides and mix with Boursin or whichever soft cheese you prefer. I always use garlic and herbs variety, but I’m sure the others would work (well, dunno about the fig one …) Loosen the mix with a drop of milk, add salt and black pepper, then pile back into the skins. I chop some leeks for the top, then put the potatoes back in the oven for ten or 15 minutes to warm the filling through and turn the leeks slightly crispy.

You can eat it as it is, or with a side salad. Rocket and watercress are nice, sharp counterblasts to the creamy filling.

The vegan filling is mushrooms and beans (not the baked variety). It came via my sister-in-law, Maria, and may be from Weightwatchers originally. She did it with tinned kidney beans and tinned mushrooms. I’ve never used tinned mushrooms in my life and don’t intend to start now, so I just fried some mushrooms (olive oil or low-cal spray, depending on your weight-watching status!), warmed through a tin of mixed beans (the ones in a slightly spicy tomato sauce are best, or it’s all a bit bland) and then added the lot to the baked potato. A knob of butter might have sneaked in there as well. And it’s extra tasty served with either cranberry or apple sauce.

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