According to my kindergartener, the months of March and April are spent in a tug-of-war between winter and spring. Winter is holding on tight, trying to force a few more cold days, while spring is trying its hardest to warm things up and get plants and flowers to bloom. I thought that was a pretty apt description, and I for one am rooting for spring. Caroline, however, is having a mental tug-of-war, herself. On the one hand, she loves playing outside and planting flowers. But on the other hand, "the cold never bothered [her] anyway." Yes, she really says that; and yes, she is obsessed with Frozen and Queen Elsa.
Today was certainly a tug-of-war between the two seasons. It wasn't terribly cold, but there was a definite chill in the air, it was overcast all day, and there were intermittent rain showers throughout the day as well.
Days like this mean comfort food for dinner, and these potatoes fit the bill nicely. Baked potatoes are one of my favorite foods, but what if you stuff them with a creamy and cheesy mixture of sausage, tomatoes, and spinach? Pretty wonderful. This is total comfort food, but a little outside the normal comfort food triangle of pasta-casserole-pot roast. I get burnt out a bit on some of the typical comfort foods, and this was a nice change of pace.
I took advantage of nap time to make dinner - baking the potatoes and mixing up the filling. But it was pretty quick, and could definitely be done at dinnertime as well. Or, you could bake the potatoes and cook the filling the night before, then just reheat when it's time to eat, making this a pretty great make-ahead meal. I served these potatoes with some roasted asparagus, and it was a hit all-around. It's practically a complete meal on its own, so just serve it with your veggie or salad of choice and call it a day.
Who will win the tug-of-war this week? I'm still pulling for spring!
Creamy Sausage & Spinach-Stuffed Baked Potatoes
adapted from Weeknights with Giada
- 4 (8 to 10-oz) russet potatoes, scrubbed clean
- 2 Tbs olive oil, divided
- 1 cup diced yellow onion (1 small)
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 8 oz sweet or spicy turkey sausage, casings removed (or a combo of the two)
- 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 1/2 cup (4 oz) mascarpone cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 3 Tbs chopped fresh basil leaves
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Brush the potatoes with 1 tablespoon total of the olive oil, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Poke several holes in the tops with a fork, then bake in s single layer on a baking sheet for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until they are tender when pierced with knife.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Cook, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the sausage, and use a wooden spoon to break it into bite-sized chunks. Cook until browned and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.
Stir in the marinara sauce and spinach. Bring the mixture to a low boil and cook until the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and stir in the mascarpone, parmesan cheese, and 2 tablespoons of the basil. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
Once they are cool enough to handle, cut a slit in the top of each potato and gently squeeze the ends to form an opening. Use a fork to break up the insides bit, then season lightly with salt and pepper.
Spoon the sausage mixture into each potato, garnish with the remaining basil, and serve, passing the extra parmesan at the table.