These hearty stuffed potatoes can be a meal in themselves with a lightly dressed salad, but they are equally wonderful served as a side dish. I love them because there is so much scope for invention, and I rarely make them the exactly same way two times in a row.
You can use any vegetables that you like, but I find peppers and zucchini (courgettes) work really well. If you want to use finely chopped carrots or other harder vegetables, they will need more cooking time. I have also added grated carrots very successfully, and frozen peas work well too.
I normally only serve half a potato each as a side dish, but as a main dish you would probably want to allow two halves. I always recommending baking more potatoes than you need as from time to time the odd potato skin falls apart making it impossible to stuff. Try to avoid this by being sure to leave a good half inch border of potato when you scoop out the middles. I like to use an ice cream scoop to fill the potato skins with the potato and vegetable mixture.
If you do have any leftovers, both stuffed potatoes and any extra filling mixture keep very well in the refrigerator and are easily reheated in the oven or microwave.
To serve four to eight people you need:
5 baking potatoes, washed
1 large onion, finely chopped or one bunch of scallions, finely chopped
¾ cup finely chopped vegetables
1 teaspoon oregano or another herb of your choice
3 to 4 generous tablespoons butter
¼ to ½ cup milk (or light cream or half and half if you want a real treat!)
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup vegetarian cheese (optional)
Bake the potatoes in a hot oven (400℉ or 200℃) for about an hour or until they are fairly soft inside, but still firm. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit.
Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a frying pan over medium heat and sauté the onion until it is tender. (If using scallions, skip this step.) Add the rest of the chopped vegetables and continue to sauté until they are tender. If you are using frozen peas, wait until later to add these as they only need three or four minutes to cook. If using scallions, add them at this point.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice each one in half. Carefully remove some of the centre of each potato and put it in a large bowl. (Be sure to leave about a half inch of potato intact around the sides or the skins will just fall to pieces.) Place the potato halves on a baking sheet.
Mash the potato in the bowl with the remaining butter and milk or cream until you get a nice mashed potato consistency. Add the vegetables and cheese (if using) and stir through. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Carefully scoop this mixture back into the potato halves on the baking sheet, heaping the mixture up a little but not too much. (If you overfill the skins there is a risk they will break.)
Return the baking sheet to the oven and cook for about 20 to 30 minutes or until the potatoes are piping hot and the tops have begun to turn golden brown.