NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

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January 16, 2013

A loaded baked potato with a sweet and savory side

Much as I love mashed white potatoes, my favorite “potato” is the sweet variety.

I’ve been cooking and eating sweet potatoes as long as I can remember. And when I found out that they were loaded with vitamins and other good-for-you stuff like fiber, I immediately thought... Here’s a great excuse to eat sweet potato pie!

Kidding aside, sweet potatoes are just as good if not better than traditional baking potatoes in savory applications. My favorite one-bowl meal in winter is a loaded baked potato. And I often make it with sweet potatoes.

Around 5 p.m., I throw the potatoes in a 350 F oven. I find that a lower oven temperature keeps the skin from falling apart, allowing you to split the potato in half and load it up! However, it does take twice as long for the potatoes to cook.

This year, I have been topping my potato with sauteed kale, which not only looks stunning — all that orange and green — but also is a perfect complement to the sweet “meaty” potato.

But that’s not all. I also roast garlic and make it into a paste to flavor the potato, folding in just a touch of butter and a pinch of sage. I scoop out half of the potato, mix it all together, add half the cheese and put it back into the shells like you would a twice-baked potato. At this point, the recipe can be made in advance and re-heated another day.

Just before serving, you sprinkle on more cheese, add a healthy spoonful of the sauteed kale and, if you like, top with toasted pumpkin seeds for a welcome crunch. If you don’t like kale, you can saute spinach instead. And while I have specified fontina and Gruyere for the cheeses, Parmesan, cheddar and mozzarella are great, too.

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