How to improve upon a perfectly baked potato. I could argue that a potato needs nothing to be wonderful. However…

…the “Spinach and Feta-Stuffed Baked Potatoes” from Ottolenghi Simple, manage to elevate -- yet again -- something as simple as this.

Spinach and Feta-Stuffed Baked Potatoes
Ottolenghi Simple
Serves 3

3 large russet potatoes (2 1/4 lbs.)
2 1/4 Tbsp. butter
4 1/2 Tbsp. heavy cream
3.38 oz. feta cheese
salt & pepper
10.5 oz. baby spinach
3 Tbsp. walnut halves, lightly toasted and broken up into 1/2-inch pieces

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Poke the potatoes a few times with a fork and then place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour or just over, until the flesh is soft all the way through. Remove from the oven and slice the potatoes in half, lengthwise. Scoop the flesh out into a medium bowl, setting the skins aside on the sheet for later. Roughly mash the potato with 1 1/2 Tbsp. butter, the cream, feta, 3/4 tsp. salt, and a generous grind of pepper and set aside.

Take the remaining 3/4 Tbsp. butter and divide it among the potato cavities. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and return to the oven for 8 minutes, for the skin to become crisp. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Place a medium saucepan, halfway filled with salted water, over high heat. Once boiling, add the spinach for about 10-15 seconds, just to wilt. Drain the spinach, squeezing out as much of the water as possible. Stir into the potato flesh, to combine, then spoon the mash back inside the empty skins, piled high. Bake for 15 minutes, until the top of the mash is crisp and browned. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the walnuts, and serve.

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Ottolenghi asks us to keep our oven at 450 degrees for more than an hour. That’s a hot kitchen, for sure. Crisping the potato skins after scooping out the meat is oh-so-clever (and easy).

Pace the steps. Wilt and squeeze the spinach.

I loved the crispy potato skin and meaty walnuts, the creamy mashed potatoes and spinach. All wonderful. Enjoy.

PREP TIME: devote two hours to prep and baking
TASTE: creamy mashed potatoes sit in crispy skins with meaty walnuts and spinach

Next week, I’ll begin showcasing my “Cookies 2018″ extravaganza, highlighting recipes from Nick Malgieri’s Cookies Unlimited.