Each week I test many different produce combinations based on what comes in from my handy dandy seasonal co-op. Most weeks I have some sort of a plan with the items I think are going to be a real show stopper, but I make a few backup dishes just in case they completely bomb. This was a backup dish that made all the other meals cry and beg for mercy. I distinctly remember saying “WOW!” after I had tried the filling, and that was before I put them back in the oven to get nice and crispy on top. After tasting the finished product, my first thought was that I needed everyone in a nearby radius to stuff this in their mouths immediately. That was overshadowed in about two seconds by a teensy selfish thought as I stared back at the baking tray. “Do I reeeeeeally want to share? I only have 4 halves. Maybe I’ll just send everyone a picture, see if they sound/look good, and hide the rest in the fridge so Kevin won’t find them when he gets home.” Can you guess which one I did?
Let’s just leave it at guessing. He’s not much of a carb kinda guy anyway :)
The trick to re-creating a comfort food with a healthy twist is finding the perfect balance of favor without going overboard. Moderation and choosing the better ingredient is key. For example, this recipe does contain bacon, but I chose a nitrate free, uncured version and only used a small portion. By doing this, the need for tons of butter and sour cream that is found in most twice baked potatoes is eliminated. Decreasing the amount of cheese and packing them full of nutrient dense broccoli was the next step. In the end, the combination was perfecto. And guilt free.
PRODUCE: NUTRITIONAL HIGHLIGHTS – FEBRUARY
Broccoli is the star player in this dish. Typically, the peak season is October, through April, and I have been getting TONS of it in the last few months. It is an extremely nutrient dense vegetable, packed with fiber, folate, Vitamins A and K as well as certain antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin. It also contains phytochemical to help prevent certain cancers. Did you know that a half cup contains 84 percent of the daily recommended value of Vitamin C? Who said you have to get vitamin C from citrus only! Put some broccoli in my mouth!
Russet potatoes are available year round, but this meal could easily be made with a seasonally grown potato that is on sale or in abundance at the local farmers markets. These large brown baking potatoes have a high starch content which makes them great for mashing. In fact, they are typically only grown in the US, so when european chefs head home, they will often take a bag of russets because they are unlike any potato found overseas. The peel is packed with nutrients and the whole potato is a great source of Vitamin B6, manganese, Vitamin C, folate, niacin, magnesium, iron and fiber. They are also extremely nutrient dense in Potassium, almost double the amount that is in bananas. Is that why I crave french fries? That must be it. I am low in potassium on Chik-fil-a days. We will go with that….
Ok, enough talking already…Go stuff your face with a twice baked broccoli cheese potato! Nom Nom!!!
- 2 large Russet or Idaho potatoes
- 1 head broccoli, roughly chopped
- 2 slices nitrate free bacon
- 1 cup Dubliner cheddar (I use Kerry-gold grass-fed brand), shredded
- ½ cup green yogurt
- 1 tsp himalayan pink salt
- Preheat oven to 400. Wash and dry potatoes. Prick with a fork and bake 45 min to an hour or until tender. Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes until cool enough to handle.
- While potatoes are cooking, add broccoli to a medium saucepan and place enough water to cover the bottom of the pan about an inch high. Cover with a lid and place of medium heat. Let steam for 20 minutes until tender. Remove from heat, drain and place in food processor.
- While broccoli is steaming, heat a small pan and fry bacon until crispy. Remove bacon from pan, and save 2 tbsp bacon grease. Add to food processor. Cut potatoes in half, scoop out the insides, leaving a ½ inch border to keep the potato from falling apart. Place potato filling in food processor and add remaining ingredients. Blend until completely combined and broccoli is pureed. Fill potato shells and top with additional cheese or bacon bits if desired. Bake for an additional 25 min, or until potato filling starts to brown. Serve with a seasonal side salad for a full meal.