Coming up with a crowd-pleasing entree every night of the week can be challenging. As a result, side dishes don’t always get the attention they deserve.
After mixing a marinade for a side of salmon and grilling it to perfection, do you merely steam a head of broccoli and leave it at that? (I often do—occasionally using a precut bag from the freezer.)
Or despite the delicious-looking recipe for roasted potato salad you’ve been meaning to serve with some juicy steaks, do you resort to plain old baked potatoes, sometimes hurried along in the microwave because you don’t have an hour to bake them?
At times, surviving dinnertime calls for shortcuts, and that’s okay. Keeping it simple can be healthy, delicious, and stress-free. But a recent reader request for easy side dishes prompted me to share a crafty alternative to the standard baked potato that I make regularly.
The fun recipe combines the best of a microwave’s speed and an oven’s ability to create golden brown crispness. Because all of the ingredients are easily kept on hand and some of the preparation may be done in advance, this recipe is one that you can fall back on again and again. Plus it’s simple enough to memorize.
A measure of the flavor comes from a few shakes of seasoned salt. Feel free to use the brand you prefer (Lawry’s, for example), although you likely have all the spices needed for a do-it-yourself version that will enhance much more than potatoes. The flavorful mix can be stored in an airtight container or extra spice jar for several months and used on everything from burgers and roasted veggies to hard-boiled eggs and homemade Chex mix.
- Baking potatoes
- Melted butter or olive or avocado oil
- Seasoned Salt
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Pierce the potatoes several times with a fork or sharp knife, and then cook them in the microwave until they are tender all the way through, about 6-7 minutes, depending on potato size and power of microwave. Flip the potatoes once or twice, and check with the tip of a sharp knife towards the end. (Tip: Poke the knife in the spot where you will later cut the potato in half.) Alternatively, you may bake the potatoes in the oven until tender. Potatoes may be cooked an hour or two in advance and left at room temperature until ready to proceed.
- Set the oven to broil. Cut the potatoes in half horizontally, and then score each half in a checkerboard fashion. Cut to the skin but not through the skin. (Don’t worry if they fall apart in a few places. Just push them back together as you place them on the baking sheet.)
- Brush the cubes with the melted butter or oil, getting some in the crevices, and then sprinkle all over with the Parmesan and seasoned salt. (I place the potatoes side-by-side on a foil-covered baking sheet. Keeping them close together and in an even layer ensures that most of the toppings land on the potatoes rather than the baking sheet and also allows for more even broiling.) Place the potatoes on the middle oven rack and broil for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Watch carefully towards the end until you know how long this takes in your oven.
After the potatoes are cooked–either in the microwave or oven–cut them in half and then score in a checkerboard fashion, cutting to but not through the skin. Then gently invert the halves so the little cubes separate. If the potatoes fall apart in places, just push them back together.
Brush the potatoes with melted butter or oil, getting some into the crevices, and then sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and your favorite seasoned salt–or use this easy DIY recipe.
Broil until golden brown…
Crispy, cheesy, salty & creamy…and so easy!