At first glance a baked potato might seem like a dull side dish. But when you dress it up with some of these great toppings, you can make it your most sought-after dinner dish yet.
How to bake a potato
To get started on your fancy baked potatoes journey, you’ll need the right recipe to bake your potatoes to perfection. Begin by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F. Generally you’ll require one medium-size potato per person. Rinse and scrub the potatoes, and poke a few holes in each of them with a fork. Rub the skins of the potatoes with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Place the potatoes on a baking tray, and bake them in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when the skins are dry and a fork slides into the centres smoothly. Remove the potatoes from heat, and let them cool for a moment. Cut small slits in the centres of the potatoes, and push the ends toward their centres to create gaps in which you can insert the toppings. Now comes the real fun!
The traditional way
There’s something to be said for enjoying favourites the traditional way — or at least a dressed-up version of the traditional way! While your potatoes are baking, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Sautée a thinly sliced onion and a pinch of salt in the oil until the onion becomes tender, and then toss in a minced garlic clove and a large handful or two of bacon bits. When the potatoes are done, distribute the bacon and onions among them. Top each with a dollop of sour cream — or Greek yogourt for a low-fat alternative — then sprinkle with sliced green onions for garnish.
Fresh Mediterranean salsa
When looking to create a lighter dish, a Mediterranean theme is the way to go. Create your own homemade salsa by dicing up half a red onion, an avocado and one or two medium-size tomatoes. Toss in a handful of chopped cilantro and a sprinkle of olive oil, and combine thoroughly. Divide the salsa among the potatoes, and top with a generous sprinkling of crumbled feta cheese and a few sliced black olives for garnish. Your guests will never look at baked potatoes as heavy comfort food again!
Here’s why a Mediterranean diet is so good for you >>
Some folks can’t get enough of pizza. If that’s you or you have a certain picky eater who always wants pizza, create this healthier option: Begin by spreading a layer of tomato pasta sauce over each potato. Add plenty of shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheeses over the sauce, and sprinkle with a pinch of dried oregano and salt. If you want something extra filling, grill or bake a couple of sausages, slice them up, and scatter them between the tomato and cheese layers. You can use sliced pepperoni if you aren’t in the mood to cook sausages. It’s a fun take on an old favourite!