Twice-baked potatoes with spinach and cheddar are big and marbled, just like a dinosaur egg!
When my eldest was very little, I tried to be creative to introduce him to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. In my experience, cheese and bread are an effective gateway. Since my son loved dinosaurs--and russet potatoes are quite large--I concocted these "dinosaur eggs" that resemble a marbled egg shell seen in many children's dinsosaur books and cartoons. These were a huge hit back then and still are today...with the grownups, too! Think of it as a gluten-free spinach pie.
Equipment: aluminum foil; cutting board; chef’s knife; paring knife; soup spoon; dry measuring cup; measuring spoons; food mill, ricer, or masher; mixing bowl; rubber spatula or wooden spoon; sheet pan or baking dish
Ingredients: 2 large russet potatoes
2 tablespoons butter, divided ¼ cup half & half (or heavy cream or milk)
1, 10-ounce frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained dry
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 2 teaspoons kosher salt plus additional salt for sprinkling
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF degrees. Wrap each potato individually in aluminum foil. Place directly on the center oven rack and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until tender.
ILOC tip: you can bake the potatoes up to two days in advance of when you want to serve the finished product.
2. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice them in half lengthwise. Using a paring knife, score the potato to outline where you will scoop the flesh, leaving a small border. Score the inside of this outline to make a grid for easy scooping (see photos).
3. Scoop the flesh from the four halves using a soup spoon and set aside. Using a food mill, ricer, or potato masher, process the potato flesh until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of butter (melted, if the potato flesh is no longer warm) and the half & half and mix well to combine.
4. Add the spinach, cheddar cheese, and salt, stirring well to incorporate. The mixture will feel very stiff.
5. Divide the remaining tablespoon of butter into quarters. Sprinkle each empty potato shell with kosher salt and dot with a portion of butter. Spoon equal portions of the spinach-cheese-potato mixture into each potato shell, using your fingers or a spoon or spatula to smooth the surface.
6. Bake in a 350ºF oven uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until the top haas browned lightly and the cheese is bubbling.
Makes 4 servings.