A steaming baked potato, fluffy on the inside and crackly-crusted on the outside, smothered in a creamy sauce studded with chunks of tuna and bright green peas - heaven. But how to choose?. . . It's either this luscious creamed tuna (recipe below) or one of 44 other fantastic ideas for baked potato toppings! (Skip to recipe.)
One of my favourite meals is a baked potato - chewy, crackly outer skin with that fluffy baked inside releasing a pouf of steam as you break it open. It's heavenly with just a pat of butter and some salt, or a dollop of sour cream, bacon bits, and green onion. But the baked potato is also a fantastic vehicle for a myriad of delicious toppings; ones made specially for it (like this Creamed Tuna), or bits and pieces scavenged from the fridge and pantry, or leftovers from dinner the night before. Just a few delicious ingredients piled on top and you have a healthy and comforting meal.
When you've got a steaming baked potato as your base, you can let your culinary imagination go wild with the toppings. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.
Baked Potato Toppings, Minimal Cooking (Simple & Quick from Pantry & Fridge)
- butter, sour cream, crumbled bacon, chives or green onions (that old classic)
- warmed canned baked beans, hot sauce, crumbled corn chips or tortilla chips
- sliced cooked sausages or wieners, canned baked beans, melted cheese
- shredded cheese, salsa or pico de gallo, sour cream, crumbled corn chips or tortilla chips
- canned sardines, drizzle of oil from the sardines, mustard, chopped red onion
- hummus, carrot salad (recipes here and here), sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
- diced cucumbers, diced tomatoes, chopped black olives, tzatziki, chopped dill
- guacamole, sour cream or yogurt, diced jicama, crumbled corn chips or tortilla chips
- scrambled egg and a generous dollop of salsa or pesto
- a soft fried egg, crumbled bacon or diced ham, crumbled corn chips or tortilla chips
- sour cream, smoked salmon, capers, chopped red onion
- refried beans, warmed (or refried lentils), avocado slices, diced fresh tomatoes, sour cream or yogurt, cilantro
Baked Potato Toppings, Still Easy, Just a Bit More Cooking
- sautéed mushrooms, sage and onion gravy
- sautéed onions, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, mango chutney or Branston pickle
- crumbled cooked sausage meat, shredded cheese, fresh chopped tomatoes
- caramelized onions, sour cream, chopped toasted walnuts
- leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken, barbecue sauce, shredded green cabbage
- hummus, leftover roasted vegetables, balsamic glaze
- leftover roasted vegetables, pesto, parmesan shavings
- tuna salad, pickled hot pepper rings (or diced dill pickles)
- tuna melt with tuna salad, chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese - broiled til melted
- mayonnaise, steamed or sautéed broccoli, crumbled bacon, shredded cheddar cheese
- sautéed mushrooms, sour cream, chopped toasted walnuts
- baked meatballs, jarred tomato pasta sauce, parmesan cheese
Cook these Delicious Dishes for Dinner One Day, then have the Leftovers on Baked Potatoes the Next Day
- chili (an easy chili recipe here), sour cream, chopped red onions, shredded cheese
- lentil sloppy joe filling, shredded cheddar cheese
- hearty meat sauce
- chana masala (curried chick peas), yogurt, cilantro
- crumbled leftover meatloaf, ketchup, chopped red or green onion
- chicken tinga filling, avocado, sour cream or yogurt, cilantro
- sliced cooked sausages, sauerkraut, caraway seeds, sour cream
- leftover sliced steak, crumbled hamburger patties, or sliced fried sausages, barbecue sauce, chopped red onions
- butter chicken, yogurt, cilantro
- chicken fricassée (leftover cooked chicken in gravy with lots of nutmeg)
- white chili, hot sauce, diced avocado
- ratatouille, crumbled feta cheese
- pulled pork, barbecue sauce, creamy coleslaw
- leftover sliced steak or cooked salmon, chimichurri sauce
- leftover cooked salmon, steamed broccoli, tartar sauce or tzatziki sauce
- leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken, romesco sauce or pesto
- Ethiopian ground beef, lentil, or spinach filling, crumbled feta cheese
- mushroom ragu
- Axoa d'Espelette (French ground meat stew)
- baked meatballs, steamed broccoli or other vegetables, cheese sauce or shredded cheddar cheese
Don't be a couch potato - get your bake on!
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Kitchen Frau Notes: I love to bake extra potatoes when I've got the oven on anyway. It's so quick to reheat a previously baked potato in the microwave or in the oven and top it with any interesting leftover bits from the fridge, or any of the toppings mentioned above.
Leftover baked potatoes also make the best fried potatoes when diced and pan-fried in bacon fat or butter until golden and crispy, with lots of salt and pepper.
While you're baking potatoes anyway, why not slide a pan of veggies into the oven to roast with them. Cut up bite-sized pieces of bell peppers, onions, eggplants, mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, etc. in any combination that appeals to you. Toss them with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread them out in a single layer on a sheet pan. Roast them for about 30 to 45 minutes; the time will depend on the size of the vegetable pieces, how thick they are spread in the pan, and how browned you like them (they are best when at least a few of the edges are turning crispy and dark brown).
for the baked potatoes:
- 4 baking potatoes (~8 oz/225 gms each) - Russet potatoes are a good variety for baking, or other 'floury' varieties
- olive oil
for the creamed tuna topping:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped (~1 cup)
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced, or ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder (or 1 tablespoon dijon mustard)
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- pinch of cayenne
- 2 tablespoons sweet rice flour (or all purpose flour for non gluten-free)
- 1½ cups (360ml) milk (or unsweetened non-dairy milk)
- 1 cup (150gms) frozen peas (or frozen or canned corn)
- 2 cans tuna, drained (9 oz/240 grams total drained weight)
- a handful of arugula leaves, chopped fresh green onions, parsley, or dill
- or something crunchy like croutons, pumpkin seeds, or other seeds or nuts
- or shredded sharp cheese
How to Bake Potatoes: Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Wash the potatoes and pat them dry with a paper towel. Prick them each in 3 or 4 places with a fork, poking it into the potato about ½-inch (1cm) deep (This prevents the potato from building up steam and exploding - and believe me you don't want that to happen. I've had it happen once and the potato was in a million little bits all over the inside of my oven.) Lay the potatoes onto a baking dish, drizzle them with olive oil, then rub them all over to coat the skins with the oil. Sprinkle each potato liberally with salt. Bake the potatoes until tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour (longer if the potatoes are larger). The potato should give easily when you press into it and the potato skin should be nice and crackly.
While the potatoes are baking, prepare the creamed tuna: Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, celery, and garlic, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the mustard powder, salt, pepper, and a sprinkling of cayenne. Cook and stir for 1 more minute.
Sprinkle the sweet rice flour over the onions and stir until it is all moistened with the butter. Add about ¼ cup (60ml) of the milk and stir until it is all absorbed and it thickens up to a stiff mass. Add the rest of the milk, about ¼ cup at a time, stirring after each addition until it is thickened and smooth. Cook and stir after the final milk is added, until the sauce is smooth and bubbling.
Add the frozen peas and cook until the sauce bubbles again. You don't want to cook the peas too long, so they retain their bright green colour and fresh flavour.
Then stir in the tuna, breaking up any large solid chunks, but trying not to break up smaller chunks. Taste and add more salt, pepper, or cayenne if the sauce needs it.
To serve, cut each potato in half almost all the way through, and open up the two halves partly. Spread a pat of butter over the cut halves, then spoon a heaping helping of the creamed tuna onto the potatoes. Top with the greens of your choice, or with crunchy bits, or shredded cheese.
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