A golden crust is the magic that happens when a clever baking method meets olive oil and Parmesan cheese in this versatile recipe that takes five minutes to prep.
When I think of St. Patrick ‘s Day, I think of Leprechauns, four leaf clovers, and wearing green. I also think back to elementary school when a friend’s mother delivered Shamrock Shakes for the entire class every March 17th. It was most definitely a lucky day!
But since we can’t exist on green milkshakes alone, I have a few other Irish-inspired recipes that are especially fitting in the month of March. And what could be more Irish than potatoes?
The following recipe came about one weekend many years ago when I forgot to buy bread at the store. Grilled cheese and PB&Js, which were my boys’ top lunch picks at the time, were out. Undeterred (and hungry!), I figured I could do something creative with a few potatoes that needed to be used.
I borrowed a cheese crust concept I typically use in a baked mashed potato recipe and applied it to whole potatoes. The result was a crusty exterior, tender insides, and flavor similar to that of potato skins. Happily, the inventive lunch was enjoyed by all.
In the time since, the easy recipe has become a reader side dish favorite and a frequent request by my kids and husband alike.
The recipe is well-suited to entertaining too, because it’s quick to prep and complements a wide range of proteins and vegetables. For added convenience, you can prep the potatoes an hour or so in advance, let the baking dish sit at room temperature, and bake when ready.
Try it once, and this versatile side dish might just become a new favorite in your house too!
The easy steps for success are shown in the video, above, and photos below, along with some helpful tips:
- 3 small to medium baking potatoes, halved lengthwise (longer, thinner potatoes work well)
- 2½ tablespoons olive oil
- ⅓ cup (30g) grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt and a few turns of the pepper mill
- Fresh chives or parsley, optional
Preheat the oven to 400℉.
Coat the bottom of a 9×9 or 7×11 baking dish with the olive oil – the potatoes should fit in the dish with as little extra room as possible. (Helpful hint: Using a glass baking dish will allow you to accurately gauge how brown the potatoes are on the bottom.) Evenly distribute the grated Parmesan over the olive oil, and then sprinkle with the salt and pepper. (See notes.)
Place the potato halves, cut side down, on top of the cheese mixture and bake for 45-50 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Check a few minutes early, as all ovens vary. (Helpful hints: If using a dark coated pan, the Parmesan will brown quicker than with a light colored or glass dish. Precise baking time will also vary depending on the thickness of potatoes.)
Cool for 5 minutes before serving. Use a metal spatula to transfer to a serving platter or dinner plate, garnishing with snipped chives or parsley, if desired.
Want to make a bigger batch? If you wish to make enough to fit in a 9×13 pan, you will not need to fully double the olive oil. You want to just cover the bottom of the pan in a thin layer of oil, and then add enough Parmesan cheese to lightly cover the oil. After you have followed the recipe once or twice, you will be able to “eyeball” it.
Can I vary the type of potato? I tend to use small baking potatoes, although Yukon gold potatoes work well too. (Baking potatoes are starchier and fluffier compared to the creamier, denser gold potatoes.) Yukons are usually smaller and rounder, so you will need more to fill the pan and may need to reduce the cooking time.
Appetizer size: I sometimes make this recipe with bite-size new potatoes for use as an appetizer or salad topper. In that case, bake for approximately 30 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when a sharp knife poked through the skin meets no resistance.