Fully baked

Anna Jones on the trusted jacket potato

The Guardian - Cook - - Front Page - Anna Jones

Pota­toes are just about my favourite thing to eat. They have been a com­fort and so­lace for me through good times and bad. Whether it’s my Irish her­itage, my unashamed love of stodge or sim­ply be­cause they are such a will­ing ve­hi­cle for but­ter, my love for pota­toes shows no sign of faltering. In fact, one night not so long ago, when I was six months preg­nant, I found my­self won­der­ing if it was OK to have mash and chips to­gether. I stuck with just the mash.

The crispy-edged golden brown crunch of a roastie; cloud-like mash; a lit­tle new potato, boiled and tossed with grassy green herbs, good oil and flaky salt … pota­toes are pretty mag­i­cal in all their forms. But to­day’s recipes take baked pota­toes – that win­ter house­hold sta­ple – as their theme. Th­ese are din­ners for cold nights and wet home­com­ings: bol­ster­ing food, full of flavour and com­fort.

For the warm­ing potato salad, I bake the pota­toes in miso, then slather them in a tomato-spiked dress­ing un­til deeply golden brown, be­fore mix­ing them with lentils and toasted al­monds. A com­plete meal.

The dou­ble-baked potato skins, which bring back child­hood mem­o­ries of Amer­i­can din­ers, are piled with spicy baked chick­peas and a grown-up dip (rem­i­nis­cent of the sour cream and chive dips of those same din­ers).

The potato I most of­ten use for bak­ing is a floury King Ed­ward – but Maris Piper, Golden Won­der, Win­ston or Rus­set would all work for th­ese recipes. There is no need to buy new pota­toes at this time of year; big ones for bak­ing and smaller ones for roast­ing and sal­ads. Loose pota­toes should give you enough op­tions.

This week’s flavour map (see over­leaf) gives you my five favourite top­pings for salty, crisp-skinned baked pota­toes, all of which can be thrown to­gether quickly on a cold, hun­gry week­night.

Golden miso roast potato salad Serves 4 as a main or 6 as a side dish

1kg small floury pota­toes 2 tsp white miso paste 2 tbsp olive oil 400g cooked puy lentils (1 tin) 100g skin on al­monds, toasted and sliced A hand­ful of basil, leaves picked and roughly torn

For the dress­ing

Cloves from 1 head of gar­lic, un­peeled 2 tbsp sun-dried toma­toes in olive oil, chopped, plus 2 tbsp of their oil Juice and zest of a lime A thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 Pre­heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Rinse the pota­toes, scrub­bing off any gnarly bits, and dry well. Mix to­gether the miso, olive oil and 1 tbsp wa­ter. Put the pota­toes in a bak­ing tray, add the miso mix­ture and toss well to­gether. Put the un­peeled cloves of gar­lic into the tray as well. Roast the pota­toes un­til they are fluffy in­side and golden out­side: this should take 30-35 min­utes, de­pend­ing on the size of your pota­toes.

2 Make your dress­ing: mix the sun­dried toma­toes and their oil with the lime juice and zest and the ginger, and mix well.

3 Re­move the pota­toes from the oven and spoon out the gar­lic cloves. Squeeze the soft­ened cloves of gar­lic from their pa­pery out­sides, mash them and add to the dress­ing.

4 Tum­ble the pota­toes into a large bowl, add the lentils and the dress­ing and toss to­gether. Top with the al­monds and basil.

Twice-baked potato skins with crispy buf­falo chick­peas

I make the dress­ing by blend­ing cashew nuts into a sat­is­fy­ing cream, but I have also given an op­tion to use yoghurt in­stead of the cashews, if you’d pre­fer.

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