I love baked potatoes. They are fantastic fast food. I remember in summer earlier this year, looking for something to eat on Australia Day and looking for some late lunch in the afternoon at a cluster of burger vans. How happy was I to find a hot potato van to save me from unrelenting fattiness of deep fried food. When I worked in Edinburgh, there was a great baked potato shop on Cockburn Street which would serve huge baked potatoes with vegetarian haggis which was always a treat at lunchtime. Vegetarians are treated so much better in the UK! But baked potato stalls always treat vegetarians well.
The beautiful thing about baked potatoes is that they are so easy to make at home - if you have time. But I often just forget about them as an option. Maybe it’s because I like them with salad but don’t want the oven on for hours in summer. Maybe I don't often have time to bake them long enough. I love them when they have been in the oven so long they have a thick and crunchy skin and sweet soft flesh.
I was laid low at home earlier in the week with no energy to think about cooking. By evening I hadn’t eaten much and needed some vegetables. It had to be easy and the flavours had to be simple. I remembered a recipe I had seen in Julia Stafford’s Vegetarian Cookbook on a recent ramble through my cookbooks. It was called Baked Beany Potatoes with Pesto.
This was a perfect meal to do (adapted slightly to what I had in the house). All I needed to do with put some pierced potatoes in a hot oven for 90 minutes and then I could just lie on the couch and feel sorry for myself. When they were almost ready, I chopped some veggies (spring onions, carrot, red capsicum, tomato, avocado, baby spinach) and tossed them with chickpeas, lemon and pepper. Then I placed one or two potatoes (they are never as huge as the ones you get in a takeaway) in a bowl, sprinkle with grated cheese, generously scatter vegetable/chickpea mixture, and top with a dollop of yoghurt and a spoonful of pesto. Thank you Julia!
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