Baked potatoes are frequently used as a vehicle for all sorts of unhealthy shenanigans, from butter and salt to sour cream and cheese. I would know because, as a kid, I simply could not get enough sour cream on my potato. Nowadays, I’m a little smarter about my obsession with piling creamy, tangy stuff on top of potatoes: I use Greek yogurt instead.
I also take advantage of my profound love of broccoli, artichokes, spinach, and most other stuffed potato-friendly green veggies, and either load them into the potato stuffing itself or serve them alongside the potato, periodically “dipping” the veggies into the starchy but creamy potato mixture. Call it my (much healthier and more delicious) version of dipping broccoli into cheese sauce.
This healthy version of an overstuffed baked potato is usually a spontaneous, wing-it kind of recipe. So I wrote it as I make it, with different variations for the veggies, with vegan alterntives to the ricotta and Greek yogurt, and with instructions for cooking the potato both by hour-long oven method and by 6-minute microwave method. Yes, microwave. Some of us have day jobs, and if I ever want a potato for a work-day lunch or am too hungry after work to wait an hour for it to bake, the microwave-then-wrap-in-foil-to-let-it-steam-a-few-minutes-on-the-counter-top method works wonders.
The potato then gets cut open, and innards are cleanly removed, then mixed with a super quick (and also microwavable) green onion-ricotta-garlic sauce. Once re-stuffed back into the potato skin corpse, the stuffing gets a brief drizzle of olive oil for just a smidgen of that buttery texture you might otherwise miss. Topped with yogurt and fresh chives or scallions, this over-stuffed potato served with steamed broccoli (or artichokes, or spinach) makes for a very satisfying yet healthful meal.
And in case you didn’t make a note of it above, if you don’t choose to mix your choice of green veggies into the potato mixture, I highly recommend dipping the greens into it. Just because it’s not called a dip doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be used as one!
Healthier Overstuffed Baked Potato
Serves 2 (325 calories per serving, calculated using 7 oz. Greek yogurt)
To make this dish vegan, blend 1/4 c. cannelini or other white beans in a food processor until completely smooth, and substitute bean puree for ricotta. In lieu of Greek yogurt, use soy yogurt and juice from 1/4 to 1/2 a lemon to add the tanginess you typically get with Greek-style stuff.
I used a 1 lb. potato and later chopped it in half to share with Jay, but you could use two 1/2-lb. potatoes for better presentation. However, my oven and microwave times are for the monster potato, so if you use smaller ones, decrease the cooking time accordingly (or just check them periodically so they don’t get overcooked – nobody likes a tough potato!).
1-lb. russet potato (the brown guys reminiscent of Mr. Potato Head)
2 c. broccoli florets, steamed until tender (can substitute steamed spinach or frozen, defrosted artichoke hearts)
1/4 c. part skim ricotta cheese
1 green onion including green stems, thinly sliced and white part separated from greens
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. olive oil (optional)
4 to 7 oz. Fage 2% Greek yogurt
Scrub outside of potato, and rinse any dirt off. Poke a few times with a fork. Either bake for 1 hour at 350F; or microwave on high for 4 minutes, flip over, nuke for 2 more minutes, remove, immediately wrap in foil, and set aside for 5-10 minutes while the steam from the foil wrapping continues to cook the potato.
If you haven’t already, steam broccoli until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside, but keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a small pot or microwaveable bowl, stir together ricotta, white portion of chopped green onion, garlic powder, salt, and pepper until combined. Heat over medium-low heat on stove until hot, or microwave on high for 1 minute until hot.
Unwrap potato, and discard foil. Scoop out most of the inside of the potato, leaving skin shell intact, and mix with hot ricotta mixture to create filling. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stuff potato-ricotta mixture back into the potato shell (there may be excess filling; reserve for a refill, or for later snacking). Top with light drizzle of olive oil, generous dollop of thick Greek yogurt, and chopped green ends of green onion, and serve on a bed of lightly salted steamed broccoli, which you can mix in as you eat the potato or dip into the potato.