Salt-Crusted Baked Potatoes

Salt-Crusted Baked Potatoes by The Fat Foodie

I think we can all agree that potatoes are a staple of the low FODMAP diet. Their wonderfully low FODMAP status means that they’re a great carbohydrate to be able to fall back on when you need a relatively quick meal. I tend to get fed up of eating bread all the time, even if it’s my gorgeous gluten-free soda bread, so it’s nice to know that I can have a baked potato instead.

When I was at uni doing my Masters I’d often go for a baked potato for lunch because they were huge, well-baked beauties that were perfect specimens of the potato family. Although many baked potatoes can be dry, these ones always had lovely moist interiors and were encased within a delicious-tasting natural shell. (I always eat the baked potato skin because it’s packed full of nutrients.)

Now, I’m going to tell you how to make the perfect baked potatoes and this advice is gold, my friends. On one of those days when I was buying lunch from the uni canteen I asked the lady who was serving the lunches why their baked potatoes tasted so good and she smiled and replied that, although they weren’t supposed to add salt without good reason, she coated the freshly washed raw potatoes in a very thin layer of granulated salt before she baked them so that the salt dried in the oven and created a crust on the outside which prevented the moisture within the potatoes from evaporating while simultaneously seasoning the potatoes beautifully. (I’m paraphrasing here.)

This was a revelation to me. I’d never have dreamed of putting salt on my baked potatoes, but sure enough, when I tried it at home (and every time I’ve made them since) it produces wonderfully tasty and beautifully seasoned baked potatoes.

Another trick to ensuring you get the perfect salt-crusted baked potatoes is to use a four-pronged potato baker. When my partner and I tied the knot, my Aunt and Uncle in Canada very generously sent over a Debenhams gift voucher for us. I bought a number of things with it, including a large bale of white towels which have long gone to grey bath towel heaven. However, one thing which remains from their wedding gift, and is used on a very regular basis, is a pair of potato bakers. These potato bakers are brilliant because they ensure your potatoes cook evenly by piercing them through the middle and radiating the heat through their centre. They’re truly a genius invention!

If you enjoy a good baked potato I’d really encourage you to try these salt-crusted baked potatoes some time. They’re a lovely way to treat what is a pretty plain vegetable and they really coax the natural sweetness out of the potato. The only hard part is deciding what you’re going to top them with.

Ingredients:

As many large potatoes as you need (washed and any eyes removed)

Granulated salt

Any toppings you fancy

Method:

Preheat your oven to 220C/200C Fan/425F/Gas Mark 7.

Wash your large potatoes and remove any eyes from them.

Scatter salt over the wet potatoes (I use around 1/3 to 1/2 a teaspoon of salt per potato) and then skewer them on the potato bakers and place on a baking tray.

Salt-Crusted Baked Potatoes About to be Baked by The Fat Foodie

Bake them in the oven for around 45 to 55 minutes. (You can’t really tell when they’re ready from looking at them so I tend to check they’re cooked by removing one of them from the potato baker and cutting it open. If it’s soft in the middle, they’re done. If not, pop it back on the potato baker and put them back in for a bit longer.)

Once your potatoes are ready remove them from the potato bakers and serve with your desired toppings.

Salt-Crusted Baked Potatoes by The Fat Foodie

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Aloo Palak (Potato and Spinach Curry) (serves 4)

Aloo Palak (Potato and Spinach Curry) by The Fat Foodie

I love aloos, potato-based Indian dishes, because they’re so hearty and flavoursome and they make a lovely light alternative to heavy dairy and meat-based curries. I’m particularly a fan of aloo palak, a potato and spinach curry, because the addition of spinach leaves makes the dish very fresh tasting and brings out the natural sweetness of the potatoes.

I know a lot of people who would never dream about making a curry from scratch because they think it’s too hard or that it involves too many ingredients, an attitude I can understand because some curries are pretty labour and ingredient intensive. However, this aloo palak is really easy to make and its ingredients list isn’t that extensive either.

The beauty of making a curry yourself lies in the fact that you can use fresh flavours that really pack a wallop, such as minced ginger root and fresh coriander leaf. Accordingly, you’re rewarded with an aloo palak that tastes much nicer than a curry sauce that comes from a jar. As an added bonus there’s no onion or garlic in this recipe because asafoetida powder is used to impart those flavours instead, so it’s FODMAP friendly.

Although this aloo palak is vegetarian, it’s substantial, requiring little more than some crisp and crunchy poppadums to accompany it, but even though there’s no meat in it it’s rich and stuffed full of a variety of flavours. It’s a vegetarian curry that’s well worth making.

Ingredients:

800g potatoes cut into small cubes (peeled weight)

3 tbsps vegetable oil

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp garam masala

1 tbsp fresh minced ginger

1 tsp asafoetida powder

1 tsp hot madras powder

1 tsp ground turmeric

2 tbsps sesame seeds

2 tbsps dessicated coconut

200g fresh washed spinach

Fresh coriander and poppadums for serving

Method:

Parboil the potatoes in generously salted boiling water until just soft and then drain.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan and add all of your spices and cook for a minute.

Add the potatoes and desiccated coconut and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the spinach.

Cook until the spinach has wilted down and add a little water if you’d prefer the curry to be a bit saucier. Taste for seasoning (it might require a generous seasoning of salt at this point).

Serve with freshly chopped coriander and crisp poppadums. (It’s also lovely with fresh chopped chilli and a cucumber and mint raita.)

Aloo Palak (Potato and Spinach Curry) by The Fat Foodie

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Sweet Potato Rostis (makes 4 rostis)

Sweet Potato Rostis by The Fat Foodie

Sweet Potato Rostis by The Fat Foodie

I’ve been on holiday for the past week and one morning after a very long lie-in I really fancied something quite indulgent for breakfast. I’d bought a large bag of sweet potatoes at the supermarket and was looking for ways to use them up so I decided to make sweet potato rostis that I could fill with a baked egg and serve alongside some rashers of smoky bacon. That’s what days off are all about, right?

I always have lots of nuts and seeds in my larder because I find them to be a very useful source of iron and they can be added on an ad hoc basis to so many dishes. So, I thought the addition of sesame seeds to the sweet potatoes would go well, adding a toasted flavour to the natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes.

I cooked my sweet potato rostis in little tartlet tins, thinking that the tins would help the rostis to bake into a hard flan shape that would hold the baked eggs whilst also crisping up the rostis, but sadly the tins didn’t make the rostis bake into that shape. However, I’m still pleased I cooked them in the tartlet tins because they helped form a bowl for the eggs to be baked in.

These sweet potato rostis respond well to a very generous seasoning of pepper, resulting in a crunchy, but sweet, satisfying bowl of potato in which to encapsulate your chosen fillings. I’ll definitely be making these again in a heartbeat.

Sweet Potato Rostis with a Baked Egg by The Fat Foodie

Sweet Potato Rostis with a Baked Egg by The Fat Foodie

Ingredients:

2 grated sweet potatoes (300g grated weight)

4 tbsps gluten-free flour

4 tbsps sesame seeds

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Grate your sweet potatoes into a large bowl and then add all of the ingredients and stir well.

Divide the mixture between the tart tins (or a large baking tray, if you’re not using the tart tins) and bake for around 25 minutes until the top of the rostis are crunchy and the base is soft.

Add your eggs and put the rostis back in the oven until the eggs are cooked to your liking. (Equally, if you’re having bacon with them you could chop the bacon up and add it to the eggs before you bake them.)

Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Rostis with Baked Eggs and Smoked Bacon by The Fat Foodie

Sweet Potato Rostis with Baked Eggs and Smoked Bacon by The Fat Foodie

Sweet Potato Rostis with Baked Eggs and Smoked Bacon by The Fat Foodie

Sweet Potato Rostis with Baked Eggs and Smoked Bacon by The Fat Foodie

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Beef Chilli Nachos

Beef Chilli Nachos by The Fat Foodie

Beef Chilli Nachos by The Fat Foodie

On Saturday night I couldn’t be bothered cooking anything particularly time consuming, so I decided that a plateful of corn nachos covered in a rich beef chilli would do nicely for dinner. These nachos only took half an hour to make, but they resulted in a very satisfying and chilled out TV dinner.

I’ve been following the low FODMAP diet and a couple of things that they strongly advise you to stay away from is onion and garlic because they’re renowned for irritating IBS. To begin with I found this very restrictive because onion and garlic are the base ingredients for so many dishes, but as time has went on I’m discovering that really, you don’t notice when they’re omitted from recipes.

When I decided to make these beef nachos I found myself pausing before starting to cook them and asking myself whether they’d be any good without the usual addition of sliced onion and minced garlic, but upon tasting the beef chilli I can happily confirm that they weren’t missed at all.

I served the beef chilli on top of a bed of crispy corn tortilla chips. I used Morrison’s Savers lightly salted corn tortillas which, along with being very tasty, have the added benefits of being both gluten-free and cost only 46p a bag! I only wish I could have added a healthy dollop of guacamole to my nachos, but that’ll need to wait until I’ve finished my two month FODMAP elimination phase. For now the jalapeños and dairy-free cheese did very nicely.

This simple, but tasty recipe for beef chilli nachos makes a generous plateful of crunchy salted tortilla chips that are covered in a rich, hearty and satisfying beef chilli. It’s a perfect meal for those evenings that require you to cook something that’s low fuss, but delicious.

Ingredients:

450g beef mince (or vegan mince)

2 red peppers (diced)

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

Salt and pepper

1/2 a bag of plain tortilla chips

Possible toppings: jalapeños/guacamole/fresh chilli/fresh coriander/grated cheese etc.

Method:

Cook your beef mince in a pan (I dry fried mine, but you could add a little oil if you wanted) and once it’s cooked add the red peppers, herbs, spices and tin of chopped tomatoes.

Cook for ten minutes and then taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as you see fit, but remember that your tortillas chips are salted, so you might not need as much salt as you think.

Put the tortilla chips on each plate and top with a generous helping of beef chilli.

Add any additional toppings and serve.

Beef Chilli Nachos by The Fat Foodie

Beef Chilli Nachos by The Fat Foodie

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Potato Wedges

Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

Fact: There’s nothing better than a homemade chip.

Second fact: Fried chips have been sold in Britain since 1854, but they’ve actually been eaten in British homes for centuries.

Third fact: Homemade chips taste way better than a frozen ready-prepared chip ever could.

Fourth fact: Homemade potato wedges are unbelievably easy to make. So, let me show you how…

I made my family lentil ragù the other night, but because I’m following the FODMAP diet (to help manage my IBS better) it wasn’t suitable for me to eat. I was then faced with the decision about what I was going to make for my own dinner. I had a bag of potatoes in the fridge (which are fine to eat for FODMAP followers) so I figured that a plate of potato wedges would go down nicely while also serving as a nice side to go with the lentil ragù the family were having.

Potatoes are packed full of vitamins and minerals. In terms of vitamins, you’re talking about getting a healthy portion of vitamin C, E and K, B6, and folate. Their minerals include calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. That’s better for you than a plateful of starchy wheat-based pasta any day, isn’t it really?

I had two varieties of potato in the fridge, not for a particularly exciting reason, it was just that they were left over from two separate bags of potatoes. My point is that the blend of two varieties lent a nice variation in texture and flavour to the potato wedges because some of them were really sweet and firm whereas others were dry and floury. For such a plain plate of food, it truly was a celebration of the humble potato.

I cut my potato wedges by hand with paring knife, but you can buy really clever potato chip makers produced by companies like Lakeland which make it really easy to make perfect chips. Equally, you could use a tool such as an Easy Grip Potato Slicer which is much cheaper and would give you uniformly cut potato wedges. I’m happy with oddly shaped, non-uniform potato wedges personally though, so I’ll just stick to using a plain old knife.

You don’t need me to tell you what to serve potato wedges with, but I had mine with a tin of mackerel in spicy tomato sauce and it was a delicious meal. The potato wedges had far more flavour to them than any frozen chips I’ve ever had (even the expensive upmarket ones). If you fancy more exciting potato wedges you could add a teaspoon of smoked paprika to your seasoning before you pop them in the oven which will give them a smokey, BBQ sort of flavour. Whether you pep up their seasoning or not, these potato wedges were sweet and crunchy around the edges, but soft and fluffy in the middle, just like any good potato wedges should be.

Ingredients:

Enough potatoes for the number of people you’re going to be feeding (I normally go with around 2 medium sized potatoes each)

Sunflower oil

Salt and pepper

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Peel your potatoes and cut them through the middle into halves and then into wedges. I normally get around 8 wedges from a medium sized potato.

Place on a non-stick baking tray and coat them lightly with sunflower oil. (Only use enough so that they’re just lightly coated because you don’t want them swimming in oil.)

Season generously with salt and pepper and place in the oven.

Raw Potato Wedges About to be Baked by The Fat Foodie

Raw Potato Wedges About to be Baked by The Fat Foodie

Once your wedges are golden brown and soft when pierced with a fork, remove from the oven and serve.

Freshly Cooked Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

Freshly Cooked Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

Potato Wedges by The Fat Foodie

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