Friday, September 5, 2014

Healthy Broccoli, Mushroom, and Cheese Potato "Skins"

In case you haven't noticed, fall is upon us, and that means football season.  I am not a football fan myself- the only football I have watched in the last couple of decades was the local high school's, and only because my son was in the marching band!  But I know that football season means football parties, and that means appetizers!  One of the most popular appetizers around is the potato skin...baked potatoes with the flesh scooped out, filled with butter, cheese, bacon, and topped with sour cream.  Holy cow, my arteries just clogged up typing that!  I have made a lazy version of this for years, in which I bake potatoes and then slice into rounds, which I then top with the typical toppings, and broil to complete.  They make great finger foods- nice little potato rounds full of everything you want on them!  Just...not very healthy, in fact, very UNhealthy.

So, I started thinking about this.  Could I use the same concept but decrease the unhealthy ingredients and up the healthier ones?  In thinking about potatoes, lots comes to mind: mostly, they are served fried, mashed with lots of fatty dairy ingredients, or topped with umpteen unhealthy toppings.  Maybe I could adjust a bit, keep some of the tasty stuff, but substitute something a bit less artery-clogging.  There are a ton of baked potato varieties out there- everything from meat lovers to vegetarian.  I have always enjoyed a broccoli-cheese topping on baked potatoes, and wondered if I could sort of twist this concept to what I had in mind.

There is a delicate balance to consider, so I couldn't omit the fat completely.  But I did reduce it quite a bit, and the result was very tasty!  This is a nice appetizer that would be great for any occasion.  Once the potatoes are baked, you just have to make the topping, and that can be made ahead of time if necessary.  There is some stove time involved, so factor that in, but it is worth it.  This is a nice, tasty, and WAY less fat-filled and greasy version of the traditional potato skin.  I would have no problem bringing this to a football party, or anywhere else for that matter.  The cheddar cheese compliments the potato and provides a bit of creamy goodness, while the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese give it a good bit of crispy/crunchy quality, as well as flavor.  If you're gluten free, go ahead and omit the bread crumbs- there will still be a tiny bit of crunch from the browned parmesan cheese.

Healthy Broccoli, Mushroom, and Cheese Potato "Skins"

The "skins" is in quotation marks because it's not just the skins.  Baked potatoes are cooled and sliced, then topped with yummy ingredients.

2 medium russet potatoes
Olive oil cooking spray
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup diced onion
1/2 cup broccoli, chopped small
1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped small
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp. shredded good-quality parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste

1. Prick potatoes with a fork and either bake in the oven, or microwave until tender.  Set aside and cool completely.

2. Heat a skillet on medium-high with 1 tbsp. olive oil.  Add onions, cook 5 minutes until translucent.  Add broccoli and cook another 5 minutes, until just tender.  Add mushrooms and cook 3 minutes.  Add garlic, salt and pepper, and cook 1 minute.  Set aside.

3. Spray a 9x9 square pan with olive oil cooking spray.  Preheat broiler in oven.

4. Slice potatoes into 1/2 inch rounds.  Place in a single layer in prepared square pan.  Spray top of potato rounds with olive oil spray.  Broil about 5 minutes.

5.Sprinkle cheddar cheese atop potato slices evenly.  Broil about 3 minutes or until cheese is melted and barely bubbling.

6.  Top potatoes and cheese with broccoli mixture in an even layer.  Combine bread crumbs and parmesan cheese and sprinkle over broccoli mixture.

7.  Broil 1-2 minutes until cheese browns on top.

8. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes before serving.

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