Baked Potatoes with Ricotta, Swiss Chard, & Toasted Garlic

OK guys, I’m going to be honest with you. This post isn’t about the potatoes. Those delicious little buttery-salty-peppery guys with their crispy skins were merely an afterthought. A vehicle to contain something I discovered yesterday, very much by accident.

It all started when I told my parents that I’d make ravioli for dinner. (Wait, let me back up a second — I’m in NY again for a couple days. My mom is doing great [and even going back to work next week!]. I’m just here because I love my childhood dentist and my hometown mechanic, and will therefore drive four hours to see either of them. That’s less crazy if I’m combining visits to both into the same trip, right?)

Anyway, back to the ravioli. My mom and I had taken a trip down to the Schoharie valley the day before and, amongst other things, picked up a couple bags of fresh spinach. So I figured I’d do a very basic spinach and ricotta filling, with a little bit of garlic and parmesan. The happy accident began when I got a bit heavy-handed with the olive oil, adding too much to the pan in which I was going to cook the garlic and spinach. “NICE! A healthy mistake,” I said to myself, mentally citing those reports I’d been hearing about the Mediterranean diet all day. I threw the garlic in once the oil was nice and hot, and let it sizzle away for a couple of minutes. I then turned back to the counter and realized that my plan to sautée the spinach with the garlic wasn’t exactly feasible, given just how big and puffy the spinach was at present. But I decided to throw it all in the pan anyhow, then cover it and let it steam a bit, until it had wilted enough to satuée.

After a few minutes, I removed the lid of the pan. Instantly, it hit me: the smell garlic bagels. Now, obviously, there are no bagels or bread of any kind involved here. What I was experiencing was the aroma of toasted garlic. The same amazing little bits that cover delicious garlic bagels. (I love garlic bagels and I don’t have much experience with toasted garlic outside of them — can you tell?)

So, what happened in that pan while it was covered seems to be that the spinach steamed, as I’d intended, but the garlic continued to crisp up in the oil at the bottom of the pan, giving a wonderful flavor to the spinach as it cooked. And the end result was awesome. The taste held up in the finished dish perfectly, managing to cut through the cheese and the tomato sauce to bring a garlicky, toasty flavor to everything. I played it cool with my parents, pretending that I kind of meant to do that, casually saying, “Isn’t it nice how that toasty garlic flavor really comes through?” instead of, “Holy sh*t you guys, can you even believe what an awesome thing I just did?!?!”

Since then, I’ve been considering all the possibilities of my discovery. It could work with a variety of greens, and would also likely be great with a mix of garlic and onion (or even just onion by itself). And it would be an awesome topping for a variety of things. Which brings me, at last, to the potatoes.

I am the sort of person who gets really into baked potatoes. (Get ready, I’m going to tell you all about it.) I love to cover their skins with olive oil and liberal amounts of salt and pepper before they go into the oven. And when they’re ready to eat, I pretty much make mashed potatoes in each potato half — breaking up all the insides then mixing them around with lots of butter and salt and pepper. And then, at last, there are the skins — my favorite part — covered with even more salt and pepper, and so crispy and delicious.

When potato season is just beginning, I love nothing more than a plain baked potato covered in butter and salt and pepper. But as we get further into winter, it’s great to be able to dress them up with some other fixin’s. And toasted garlic and greens are definitely welcome additions. I also love ricotta or Greek yoghurt as a substitute for sour cream, and I opted for ricotta here since it was what we had on hand. Greek yoghurt would usually be my first choice since it has a great tart flavor, but I do enjoy the ricotta as well, especially when it’s combined with a bit of salt and lemon zest. I wound up using tiny potatoes because they were the only ones in the house, but I’ve adjusted the recipe below to accommodate more standard-sized potatoes. (One other note: The garlic in these pictures isn’t quite as toasted as it should be, as I was racing against the dying light to take these photos. You want it to be really toasted [like, totally toasted, man…]. Seriously though, you’re aiming for crispy browned garlic bits, with no white garlic flesh in sight.) If you make these, you will not be disappointed. And I suggest contemplating the other ways in which you can use toasted garlic greens as well!

Baked Potatoes with Ricotta, Swiss Chard, & Toasted Garlic

  • 4 medium to large potatoes
  • 1 bunch of swiss chard (or other greens), chopped
  • 1 small bulb of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup of ricotta
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • butter

Preheat oven to 425°. Prick potatoes a few times with a fork, then place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, add a few shakes of salt and pepper, then rub potatoes to coat evenly. Bake for 45–60 minutes, or until you can stick a fork in without feeling any resistance.

While the potatoes are baking, heat a liberal amount of olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. (I used a 10″ skillet and around 3 tablespoons of oil.) Once oil is hot, add garlic and sautée for 2–3 minutes. Add swiss chard, then cover. Let cook for several minutes, or until greens appear wilted and garlic is browning well. Once the garlic is browned and crispy, remove the lid and sautée for a few minutes, then remove from pan and set aside.

Combine ricotta and lemon zest in a bowl, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Once potatoes are ready, divide in half and break up insides. Add a little bit of butter, salt, and pepper and mix thoroughly. Top with ricotta and garlicky greens.

Comments

  1. says

    Woah there, toasted garlic!? I think you might know that I have an irrational love for any toasted or roasted ingredients; and I love roasted garlic, but toasted…girl, you’re a garlic genius (first that garlicy cauliflower mash for the gnocci, and now this). Also your baked potato method is my favourite way to make them! (sometimes, if I’m feeling in need of extra comfort, I’ll mix some mozzarella or cheddar and cream cheese into the potato once it’s mashed, then I put it back into the skin, and into the oven again so the cheese melts, it’s like a grilled cheese sandwich in baked potato form. I think I might get a little too involved sometimes hah). I also have to confess that I do the play-it-cool thing when I make something by accident and it turns out delicious ;)

    P.s. It’s great to hear that your mom’s doing so well!

    • says

      Oh man, HUGE love for the double-baked cheesy potatoes! I think I might feel a potato binge coming on. Might as well get in all the starches I can before I get my spring salad cravings!

      I love love love garlic, so finding a new way to use it makes me want to a ridiculous happy dance around the kitchen. I have a feeling this discovery might get a little out of hand. (Like, I wouldn’t be surprised if I just start toasting up a ton of garlic and sprinkling it on everything.) And this coupled with the fact that I had an everything soft pretzel the other day (soft pretzels with bagel toppings — whaa?!?!) has me dreaming crazy dreams involving toasted garlic soft pretzels. Ahhh!

  2. says

    Mmm! This looks like just our kind of meal! I never make baked potatoes, and that has got to stop. Always looking for ways to make chard feel less like punishment food, and I think that toasted garlic, buttery potatoes and ricotta are just the ticket. Looking forward to giving these a try! Here’s to happy kitchen accidents!

    • says

      Hehehe, I totally hear the chard = punishment food. It’s got that weird texture that you need to be distracted from, preferably with some spice and some cheese!

      Baked potatoes are one of those things that I don’t think to make all that often. But when I do, I wonder why I don’t make them all the time! They’re the ultimate, simple comfort food. :)

  3. says

    I am just now discovering Swiss chard and kale and all of those scary, tough, leafy greens (not sure how or why it took me so long)… and I can’t get enough of them! And potatoes, well, I’m from the west so those are just a given. This might be weird, but I also put sunflower seeds on my baked potatoes; it gives a salty little nutty crunch, kind of like bacon bits, but obviously a lot better for you. And garlic… let’s just say I have a garlic problem too. If I didn’t care about what other people thought about how I smelled, I would live off the stuff!

      • says

        Thanks, Tracey! It might sound crazy, but I do mean a whole bulb. :) (A small bulb, but definitely still the whole thing.) Once the garlic toasts up, the intense flavor of the garlic becomes much more subdued, and you mostly get a crisp toastiness with the garlic flavor lingering in the background.

    • says

      Oooo, I totally love the idea of adding sunflower seeds to baked potatoes! Lately, I’ve found myself throwing sesame seeds into random things I never would have added them to before, just for the crunch and the slight nuttiness. I’m going to explore this a lot more, now that I know there are other people out there doing similar things. :)

  4. says

    haha, I love how you had a private eureka moment. I would totally try to pass off a happy accident as intentional too. The idea of crisping garlic sounds so enticing—like I imagine all of its flavor (and more, because frying is awesome!) condensed in a tiny flake. Like a garlic chip! But not, because you mixed it up with all sorts of goodness (like Swiss chard, which, admittedly, I don’t like but I think it’s because I never know what to do with it—and it’s so healthy too dammit!) and put it all in a baked potato. Yum. Total comfort food right there.

    And I totally know what you mean about going home just to see your childhood dentist. My dentist, who I can’t claim to have seen since childhood, unfortunately, is so awesome that I make sure to book an appointment to see him whenever I’m home. He’s this really no-nonsense guy, who, the last time I saw him for a check-up, pulled out my wisdom teeth just because. Well, not really, because that would just be needlessly sadistic, but because he noticed they were growing out. It was the most painless procedure ever. A couple injections of local anesthesia, some knocking around in my mouth, and bam! Two cracked wisdom teeth lying on the bottom of a plastic cup. Sorry to gross you out, but I’m trying to illustrate how great he is! And a good dentist is hard to find! :)

    Oh, and I’m so glad your mom is doing well!

    • says

      Oh man, I cannot even explain to you how jealous I am of your wisdom teeth experience!! (Get ready for grossness. :D) Three out of four of mine were impacted, I actually needed anesthesia for the surgery. They had to break my jaw on both sides of my mouth just to get the bottom teeth out, and then pretty much break apart and dig out those bottom teeth and the top one that was coming in sideways. After it was over, I couldn’t talk for the first 24 hours, and my face swelled up and was bruised on both sides. Then the second day, my parents left me alone for a few hours, and I took one of my pain pills and planned to have a nice morning relaxing and laughing at everything on tv. I then proceeded to vomit for the next couple hours, and started freaking out because I was alone and had no idea what was going on (especially since the pain pills hadn’t done that to me the day before). When my parents finally got back, my mom immediately called the doctor, and then consoled me by telling me, “the doctor said that’s no big deal, it’s just the codeine mixing with all the blood in your stomach from the surgery.” And I promptly vomited again. I also couldn’t eat anything but mush for about a month. I never wanted a bagel so bad in my life!

      OK, now I’m going to talk about food, which probably doesn’t sound appealing any more! But swiss chard is one of those weird greens that needs a lot of help because its texture isn’t the greatest. It definitely helps when you mix it with a plethora of other delicious things! My other favorite thing to do with it is to stir fry it up with some garlic, then put it on pizza with rosemary and goat cheese. So good!

      • says

        oh my gosh! That sounds horrible! I actually had a similar experience when I got my first set of wisdom teeth taken out. Actually, not really. Not by far. My face just puffed up to the point where everyone on my dorm floor started calling me Kirby, you know, that little pink flying ball thing in Super Smash Bros.? (I understand if you have no idea what I’m talking about, haha.)

        Anyway, this makes for interesting blog conversation. Aren’t you glad the whole wisdom teeth ordeal is now behind us? :)

        • says

          Ahahaha! I played Kirby’s Dreamland non-stop on my Gameboy when I was young, so I totally know what you’re talking about. :)

          I SO glad it’s all over. When my teeth were coming in, there’d be periods of several days where the pain was so bad, my jaw would lock up and I could barely eat anything! They did manage to push all of my other teeth closer together, which closed the gap in my top front teeth. So I can’t say there weren’t some fringe benefits!

          I love how this turned into dental horror talk. It’s definitely an excellent blog sidebar. :D

          • says

            I had impacted wisdom teeth, general anesthesia, and a similar (though shorter-lived) adverse reaction to vicodin. And I played Kirby’s Dreamland, too. I totally feel you.

            On a happier note, sauteed garlicky chard on goat cheese-rosemary pizza sounds amazing!

          • says

            Hehe! I never beat that stupid end thing (I don’t even remember what it was — only the frustration I felt). That game will haunt me forever!

            And that pizza is so good. It’s one of my most prized creations, because I found the recipe online many years ago, and then spent several months perfecting it. (It was originally just garlic, swiss chard, and goat cheese, which was tasty, but a little flat as far as flavor goes. Then I started adding Greek yoghurt as a base, and then some rosemary. And then the thing that really brought it all together was dotting agave around on the base, then using it on the crust with some sesame seeds! Man, why have I not done a post on this?) :)

  5. says

    Just found your blog via yesterday’s Delicious Links on The Kitchn, and I’m loving it!

    Baked potatoes are my favorite vessel for pretty much any leftover I only have a little of — they have a way of making hodge-podge things feel like a real, full meal. Last time I made chicken pot pie I had too much filling, so the next night I served it over baked potatoes … much better than crust. I’ll have to try your greens soon!

    • says

      Thank you, Amineh! So happy you found me via The Kitchn. :) And wow, I am so loving that idea of using baked potatoes in place of crust in a pot pie. That kind of blew my mind. I must eat it.

  6. says

    Ok, first of all, now I’m (we’re all) craving a baked potato, like, STAT. Second, this may sound stupid, but there’s a potato season? I thought potatoes were meant to be stored for 12 months, or something… seems I need to do some book-learnin’ here. Third, pass the salt, would you? These are (I’m imagining really, really hard) delicious.

    • says

      Oh my god, I am so glad I’m not the only one who wondered, is there really a potato “season”? !! I had to look it up, just to be sure. :) They’re definitely good for 12 months, but when they sit, some…things…start to happen with the starches and the sugars, and they can turn a little sweet. Or just simply taste a little less awesome than they were when they were first harvested. There’s nothing I love more than a freshly harvested potato in the late summer. I could probably eat them plain! But butter and salt definitely make everything better. :)

  7. says

    Swiss chard is my favorite of all the greens. It’s not too light, it’s not too heavy, but it’s JUUUUUUST right :) Cooking garlic is not one of my favorite things, however. I’ve gotten better at it, but when minced, it’s so easy to burn! I’m really curious about this toasting concept, and I love that you discovered it by accident! I’m huge into baked potatoes. The guy isn’t into baked potatoes as much as I am, though. These potatoes are a super creative twist, and one that I can’t wait to try.

    Also, I wish I could go home just to see my dentist. He’s the greatest. He’s also pretty hot. But that’s a long trip. And I’m so happy that your mom is doing so well!

    • says

      Hehe! Maybe I’d be better about flossing if I had a hot dentist. :P

      It’s true, garlic is definitely one of those things that burns pretty easily. I love using it for everything, but sometimes I get pretty annoyed over the thought of having to mince it. (I’m lazy — probably also why I’m such a bad flosser too.) Definitely give this a try! I’m guessing that keeping the lid on the pan for most of the time is what gets the garlic nice and toasty without totally burning it to a crisp.

  8. says

    These potatoes look so delicious! I just found your site through Pinterest and it’s beautiful. I love your photographs…they are really gorgeous! So happy to have found you!

    • says

      Thank you, Caroline! I actually just discovered your blog through foodgawker the other day, and your site and photos are lovely as well. :) Hurray for synchronicity!

  9. says

    I think your toasted garlic is what I call fried garlic, but toasted garlic sounds way better. I love browning garlic until nice and crisp and throwing into soups (it is an absolute requirement for arroz caldo). I found your blog through Lan of Angry Asian Creations and I love it here! Your photos are gorgeous — do you use film? They have that same soft, dreamy film quality that I love.

    • says

      Hi Jacqui! Yes, I definitely think they must be one and the same. :) (I think “fried” probably makes more sense as far as technique goes too. I’m trying to figure out why I decided to call it “toasted,” and the only reason I can come up with is the fact that the smell instantly brought to mind garlic bagels…and toasting them. Hehe!) Also, that arroz caldo looks stellar!

      And the fact that you asked me if I shoot with film is a huge compliment (since I don’t, but I love the look of it). I’m pretty handy with programs like Lightroom and Photoshop, so I’ve been gradually refining my technique for getting those moody, slightly faded pictures that I love. :)

  10. says

    Your description is so enthralling, I feel like I can smell it in my own house! And now I am dying for some garlic. My Dad makes a Greek version of mashed potatoes, it’s called scorthalia and it’s used as a spread on top of other things rather than a dish on its own, but it’s basically just a TON of garlic, potatoes, salt, and a lot of olive oil mixed up until smooth and spreadable like hummus. Spreading it on freshly toasted pita is heavenly!

    • says

      Hehe! I got really into the potato mindset when I was writing this — I’m glad it showed! :D

      And oh my god, scorthalia sounds AMAZING. Smooth garlic potatoes that I can just put on everything?! Ahhhh!!! I need to eat that.

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