Years ago when I lived in England, I sat in a pub and looked up at the chalk board to see what I wanted to order for lunch. Most pubs I visited wrote the menu onto chalkboards each day. One of the items listed on a large chalkboard that day was "jacket potatoes". Next to the jacket potatoes was a list of ingredients: bacon and cheese, beans and cheese, sour cream and chives, cheese and onion, Bolognese sauce with cheese, etc...
I had no idea what a jacket potato was. I asked my waiter and he told me, "jacket potatoes are potatoes baked with the jacket (or skin) on." Oh, baked potatoes. I get it. Instead of a side dish, which is what I was used to, these baked potatoes were so jam packed that they were a meal in themselves. So, I ordered a jacket potato with bacon and cheese. It was delicious... and filling.
So far, we have had busy summer with visitors from all over. Whenever I have someone flying in, I go to the store and try to plan what I will be cooking for my guests while they are here. I usually plan to do most of the cooking for whoever comes here. However, lots of times, we end up eating out.
Photo by Wendy Monro
I take people to the Hermann The German Monument, the Schell's Brewery tour, and on the walkway through The Way of the Cross. Sometimes, it becomes more convenient to grab a bite at one of the great New Ulm restaurants rather than to drive home and wait while I cook something. So, more than once, my family or friends leave to head back to their homes, and I am stuck with a refrigerator full of uneaten food. This very thing happened to me last week.
I absolutely do whatever I can to not waste food. I always use everything in my fridge. I don't even throw away scraps of vegetables. I put them into the freezer to make homemade stock for sauces and soups. When I looked into my vegetable drawer the other day and saw that it was full of vegetables that didn't look like they would last a couple more days without going bad, I needed a plan. It wasn't that I lacked people to feed. I had a house full of at least five children who needed to eat lunch.
Now, I know that kids aren't usually in the mood for an all vegetable lunch. I knew I could not just steam all of the vegetables and have them gobbled up by the kids. I needed to come up with a clever way to serve them. What is the point of making all of the vegetables just to pour them into a Tupperware dish and placed back into the fridge? I wanted this food to get eaten.
Veggie jacket potatoes
Time: one hour
4 large red potatoes
one large bunch of asparagus, cut into one inch pieces
one head cauliflower, cut into florets
two onions, cut into wedges
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 can cannelini beans, drained, rinsed and heated
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Poke holes into each potato with a fork. Wrap the potatoes in foil. Bake in the oven for about an hour. Once you can cut through the potato easily and the inside is fluffy, the potato is ready.
Place the veggies onto a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over the veggies. Add salt and pepper to taste. Roast for about 40 minutes. Heat the beans in a pan over medium heat for about five minutes. Once the vegetables are cooked all of the way through and slightly browned, they are ready.
Cut the potatoes in half and place each one onto a plate. Set out the vegetables, beans, shredded cheese and sour cream. Everyone can fill their jackets however they wish.
I looked around the kitchen and in the pantry to try to decide how to make the vegetables appealing to kids. I could make it into a pasta dish. I could place the vegetables over rice. Then, I spotted all of my potatoes in a basket and I remembered jacket potatoes. These large red potatoes would work perfectly as jackets for my vegetables.
I baked the potatoes, roasted the vegetables, and heated up some beans. Then, once all of this was cooked and ready to eat, I placed shredded cheese and sour cream out on the counter. This way the kids could decide what they wanted to fill their jacket potatoes with. I put beans and veggies into mine and decided to choose between sour cream and cheese. I didn't want to be gluttonous. I chose cheese.
Mine was huge and definitely a meal in itself. I was delighted and surprised to see that most of the kids chose to add roasted vegetables to theirs. We ended up finishing all of the vegetables that day while filling up all of our tummies.