Baked Potatoes with Broccoli & Black Beans
(weeknight vegan gourmet!)
When was the last time you ate a baked potato? I know… potatoes have been out of favor for a while now. It’s the whole no-carb, paleo fad. Which is a shame, in my opinion, because potatoes are delicious and have their own health benefits. They also tend to be a low-allergy food that even people on very restricted diets can consume— except for those who avoid or don’t eat nightshades. (This is a very interesting article about nightshades for those who are curious or concerned.) Remember, that there are, and have been, entire cultures that have survived on the humble potato.
You might think that no one ever lost weight eating potatoes, but you’d be forgetting the legions of bodybuilders who ate them regularly (usually plain, like their plain breasts of chicken and hard boiled eggs). The once famous Bill Phillips ‘Body For Life’ plan included baked potatoes as a staple part of his diet. I knew a lot of people who got very lean on that plan, some 15 odd years ago. (I don’t know if he still promotes them as part of his diet plan. But he is still around... and looking very 'well preserved'.)
I don’t usually eat potatoes more than once or twice a month, but I do really enjoy them sometimes.
If you are a vegetarian- and if you don’t eat foods with gluten- potatoes are a great option for variety in your diet. I often rely on potatoes in one form or another when we dine out in Argentina and the menu is laden with meat, cheese, and wheat-products.
I made this version of healthy baked potatoes with the traditional broccoli topping, except it is much lighter and leaner without the cheese and with added protein in the beans (or lentils if you prefer).
This is a completely vegan meal. I hate to say that, because sometimes people hear vegan and think BORING! But nothing feels like it’s missing in this dish- with the crunch of the broccoli, the flavor of the spices and beans, and creaminess of the olive oil and avocado. It’s very satisfying.
I usually bake some extra potatoes while I’m at it. They keep well in the refrigerator and then can be diced up and reheated on the cooktop in a little oil. Which also happens to be a super easy way to add some crispy-outside, creamy-inside fried potatoes as a side with your eggs. Try them with my favorite One Pan Mexican Eggs.
I hope this will inspire you to give baked potatoes another try. Of course, you can put all sorts of other toppings on them. Vegetarian chili and vegetarian sloppy joes both go great with baked potatoes. (I’ll post those recipes one of these days!)
PS. Don’t freak out when you read the ingredients below... The amount of salt will not be consumed and is optional. Baking the potatoes on a pile of salt adds a wonderful depth of flavor that often is missing from your average baked potato.
Recipe for Baked Potatoes with Broccoli & Black Beans
I usually bake four huge potatoes. I eat one, my husband eats two (or one and a half), and then we have leftovers. Feel free to make as many as you want here. The topping below is the right amount for 4 potatoes as a main dish for dinner, so you can scale it up as needed. This would be a good meal to feed a large family or a small army.
4 very large potatoes for baking
Olive oil or coconut oil (or butter)
Salt- about 1/2 a cup+ (optional, but worth it)
The broccoli & bean topping:
1 head broccoli
1 large clove garlic- thinly sliced or minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil +/-
1-2 tablespoons water
1.5 cups +/- cooked black beans or lentils- drained
Olive oil- for dressing
1 avocado- diced
A couple handfuls cherry tomatoes (optional)
Fresh lemon juice
Heat the oven to 375F (190C).
Wash the potatoes well. I use a green scrubby with a little dishsoap and then rinse very well. Cut off any bad or green parts.
Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper (optional, but it makes clean up a lot easier). Make four piles of salt, about 2-3 tablespoons each on the paper (or directly on the pan).
Put a little olive or coconut oil in your hands and spread over each potato, coating thoroughly. If you haven’t cut any parts off the potatoes, and/or if they have thick skins, go ahead and pierce the skins a few times with a fork or knife.
Place each potato on a pile of salt and seat well.
Bake 50-75 minutes- depending on the size of the potatoes- until completely tender. A knife inserted should meet no resistance. Remove from oven and let cool just enough to handle. Dust off the excess baked-on salt.
About 20 minutes before the potatoes will be done, you can prepare the topping.
Wash and prepare the broccoli, cutting into small bites and florets. I usually use the stalks too, cutting off the thick outer parts and dicing the ‘hearts’.
Place the prepared garlic and the spices in a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil and the broccoli stalks (save the florets for later). Heat to medium and sauté until fragrant and until the stalks have cooked a 3-5 minutes.
Add the florets, toss well to combine, and add 1-2 tablespoons water. Cover and let steam only until the florets are bright green.
Uncover, cook off any excess water, and add the beans. Make sure the beans are well-drained (even rinsed) to prevent the bean juice from making it ‘muddy’. Toss everything together and heat through.
When you are ready to serve, place a potato on a plate. Cut open in half and then in a cross-hatch style to open up and break up the center a bit. Give the potato a generous treatment of olive oil. Top with the warm broccoli and bean mixture, some fresh diced avocado, a few cherry tomatoes (whole or halved), and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste.
Ask me anything or leave a comment here.