Saturday, May 16, 2009

Keep It Simple, Stupid

I sometimes get so wrapped up in wanting to try new things that I make meal planning more difficult that than it should be. I am a compulsive grocery shopper and can't visit any other town without making a stop and checking things out. Produce is always a draw for me with the vibrant colors and promise of fresh flavors, but I have also been known to do the happy dance in the supermarket aisle after locating tomato paste in a tube and a new kind of lasagna noodles. Food makes me happy.

Simple makes me happy, as well. I like things to be effortless in the kitchen, and when flipping through a recent issue of Food Network Magazine, a recipe for stuffed baked potatoes jumped at me. It uses ingredients that I usually have on hand, and a general idea that has been a regular on my plate absolutely forever.

It is a standard for me to toss boiled, new potatoes and steamed, fresh green beans with a cream sauce/milk gravy and serve as a side dish with ham, or as a one dish meal with chunks of the ham stirred in with the veggies. Ham and Spinach Stuffed Baked Potatoes uses that same idea, but makes it even more simple. This is comfort food for me with the luscious gravy wilting the iron-rich spinach and perked up by the saltiness of ham before being ladled into a fluffy baked potato and topped with bits of shredded Swiss cheese for even more flavor. The stuffed potato is hearty enough to be a meal on its own, but adding a tossed green salad and some garlic bread would round out an extremely simple meal that should satisfy just about anyone. I would be stupid not to want a Ham and Spinach Stuffed Baked Potato On My Plate.

Ham and Spinach Stuffed Baked Potatoes

4 large russet potatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 bag baby spinach, roughly chopped
5-6 thin slices ham, cut into strips
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt
1 1/4 cups shredded Swiss cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Pierce the potatoes with a fork; bake until tender, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.
Stir in the flour and cook until slightly toasted, about 2 minutes.
Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 6 minutes.
Stir in the spinach and ham and cook until the greens wilt and the mixture is about as thick as sour cream, 3 to 4 more minutes.
Season with the cayenne and nutmeg and add salt to taste.
Slice the cooked potatoes lengthwise down the middle (but not all the way through); fluff the flesh with a fork and season with salt.
Divide the spinach mixture among the potatoes and top with the shredded cheese while still hot. (Serves 4)


  1. Potatoes are my best friend. No matter how they're cooked. But this looks extra good!

  2. Looks good to me! Easy meal idea, thanks!

  3. Wow. Those look decadent but delicious!

  4. All of my favorite ingredients piled on top of each other. Looks great. I Will be making them tonight.

  5. I've had a lot of stuffed potatoes but none like this! YUMEEEEEEEZ!

  6. Looks and sounds delish! Love potatoes especially baked and filled! Thanks for sharing! Did you just use thick slices of cold cut ham or ham you had leftover?

    Happy Holiday weekend!

  7. Ingrid, I have made these twice now. The first time I used chunks of a ham steak that I had grilled, and the second time, I used slices of deli ham (as the recipe calls for). Both were excellent, and this recipe will be pulled into play when I have leftover ham at Easter and such, too.


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