Every weekday throughout my entire childhood, my mother wrapped four baked potatoes in tinfoil. She slid them in the oven while keeping one eye on Oprah, who beamed from the thirteen inch TV that sat in the corner of our kitchen. I grew up with Oprah and I grew up with potatoes. Mind you, this was pre 'live your best life' mantra, pre favorite things, pre Dr. Oz, and pre car giveaways. This was an Oprah of oversized hair and multi toned eyeshadow. My mother must have been paying close attention because I watched the way she brushed her own eyelids with powder blue eye shadow all the way up to her eyebrows. But I also watched the way she made our baked potatoes.
Before I knew anything about cooking, I always trusted I could make a baked potato without fail. I'd seen it done so many times before. Wash, scrub, wrap, and poke. This came in handy during my college years. The first time I cooked baked potatoes in my tiny apartment kitchen I thought, I'M COOKING. And I'm cooking BY MYSELF. It was a start. It was a solid base. Potatoes gave me that dose of comfort I was craving. They brought me back to my mother's kitchen, a place I longed for while away for any length of time. Unwrapping the baked potato from its foil always felt right, the steam hitting me in the face. It had the ability to wrap me up like a warm blanket.
I consider baked potatoes to be sturdy vehicles for toppings. We're talking butter and salt first and foremost and from there, anything goes. In this version, I've done kidney beans, tomato, scallions, and Greek yogurt. I always try to add some protein into the mix. I make versions with adzuki beans, cheddar cheese, guacamole, and couscous. And versions with black beans, red onions, and salsa. Oh... and versions with Parmesan cheese and spinach. I could go on and on here. I use up whatever is lingering around in my fridge and pantry. I start by smashing the baked potato, or two, on my plate. I've never been very good at the jacket style presentation, where you push the flesh to the top and create a pocket. I usually burn my fingertips, so I gave up on that years ago. I prefer the smash and make a mountain method. And whatever you do, don't forget to eat the crispy skin. A baked potato plate is a fine stick to your ribs lunch. It's one I turn to quite often these days, probably because the bottom drawer in my fridge is overflowing with all types of potato varieties at the moment. And one can only handle so much potato salad in the summer.
~Baked Potato Plate Recipe~
4 small, or 2 large sized potatoes
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2-3 green onions, snipped
extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash, scrub, and dry potatoes. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, rolling the potato to distribute it along its skin. Sprinkle each potato with sea salt and wrap in aluminum foil. Poke a few holes in each potato. Cook for about 1 hour, to 1 hour 30 minutes, depending on the size of your potato.
Warm beans in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove potatoes from the oven. Divide among two plates. Cut down the center of each potato and use the back of a fork to mash it flat. Add a small amount of butter and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper to taste. Divide the beans among the potatoes on the two plates. Layer on chopped tomatoes and 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt on top of the beans and sprinkle with green onions. Serves 2.