The humble potato. It doesn’t ask for much – just a pinch of salt and a knob of butter to turn it into the most delicious item on the plate. And usually, that’s just what we give it – we mash it up, or boil it in chunks, or just throw the entire thing in the oven, without giving it any real care or attention.
Luckily, potatoes can handle being ignored – it’s very hard to not make a potato delicious. Leftover potatoes are unheard of in my house (90% due to me, I’ll admit). Sometimes though, it’s nice to show it a bit more love, and make it the star of the show. Why should something so tasty always sit on the sidelines?
One classic way to make potatoes the main event is by making gnocchi – but ain’t nobody got time for that. I’ve made gnocchi from scratch once or twice, but it always seems to take forever. Admittedly, this is partly due to the fact that I don’t own a masher and have to mash my potatoes with a fork (I know, I have every gadget under the sun, but no potato masher, go figure) – but even if I did have a masher, gnocchi just require a little bit more effort than I’m usually willing to give at 7 o’clock in the evening when Netflix is calling my name.
These spinach and ricotta stuffed potatoes are kind of like gnocchi for lazy people (<– i.e. me). They have all the same Italian-style flavours as my favourite gnocchi dishes, and once you’re digging in to a chunk of potato topped with creamy spinach and ricotta, with a little tomato sauce smeared over the top… who’s going to know the difference anyway? (and even if they do, who’s going to care?)
Potatoes seem to have gone out of fashion a little bit these days, with a lot of people opting to eat sweet potatoes instead. But while sweet potatoes are delicious, we shouldn’t forget about their not-so-sweet cousins, which are just as delicious, arguably even more versatile, and perfectly healthy in different ways. Potatoes are entirely fat free, and are great sources of fibre and potassium (in fact, per 100g, they’ve got more potassium than bananas!).
These spinach and ricotta stuffed potatoes are really easy to make. You can bake your potatoes fully if you like, but since I wanted to make this recipe nice and quick and easy, I cooked mine in the microwave to begin with, then crisped them up a little in the oven afterwards. I actually can’t remember the last time I baked a potato entirely in the oven (lazy, remember?). Once they’re cooked, just top them with the ricotta mixture, heat them through, and serve them on a rich tomato sauce. I made a nice chunky sauce from scratch and had it bubbling away while I prepared the potatoes, but if you prefer, you could always use a high-quality shop-bought sauce instead. No judgement here.
If I’ve inspired you to be more inventive with your potatoes, you’ll find plenty more recipes as part of the ‘Potatoes: More than a bit on the side’ campaign – see the UK and Ireland websites for more ideas!
- 3 medium potatoes
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 medium tomatoes, diced
- 150 ml passata (~ 1/2 cup)
- Black pepper
- 2 spring onions, chopped
- 250 g ricotta cheese (~ 1 cup)
- Large handful fresh spinach, chopped
- Small bunch fresh basil, chopped
Preheat the oven to 200°C (Gas Mark 6 / 400°F).
Place the potatoes on a microwave-safe plate, and prick the skins a few times with a fork. Microwave for around 10-15 minutes, turning them over every few minutes, until just soft in the middle.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan, and add the diced onion and garlic. Cook for a few minutes over a medium heat, then add the diced tomatoes. Turn the heat up a touch, and continue to cook for a further 5-10 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down (squash them with the back of the spoon to help them along). Add the passata and plenty of salt and pepper, and leave to simmer.
To prepare the potato stuffing, add the chopped spring onions to a large bowl, along with the ricotta cheese, chopped spinach, and fresh basil. Add another pinch of salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly.
When the potatoes are cooked through, cut them in half, and scoop a small well in the centre of each half (you don't need to remove a lot of the flesh, just enough to give a dip for the stuffing to sit in). Divide the spinach and ricotta mixture evenly onto the six potato halves, and place them on a lightly greased baking tray.
Bake the potatoes for 10 minutes (or until they're as crispy as you'd like them), and serve on the tomato sauce.
Note: Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose.