The Gluten Free Vegan Challenge: Vegan Twice Baked Potato Recipe

potatoes.jpgveganmonth.jpgMany of you must be familiar with my favorite spinach pie recipe. It all began as a non-vegan recipe, and then as I got increasingly interested in making allergen-friendly recipes, I started playing with it in various vegan permutations. This weekend I hosted a CeliacSF Bay potluck, and we had a “holiday favorites” theme. Well, one of my holiday favorites is that spinach pie recipe. But, the original recipe is not vegan, and we have several members that avoid both eggs and dairy. I wanted to make a non-vegan version, which involved making a pie crust- rather labor intensive, and so I was trying to think of an easy way to make an allergen friendly version of this recipe. Luckily Whole Foods had the perfect solution. I was wandering dreamily around the produce section, one of my favorite places in the store, when I passed by these beautiful, ridiculously huge Russet Potatoes. I have a weakness for monster-truck-sized Russets, since they’re often the only thing I can have (or want) at certain American-style restaurants. Salt, pepper, and margarine can be the seasonings of the gods if the baked potato is baked just right- and luckily, I discovered the perfect baking technique for potatoes from a James McCairn book long ago. Bake them on a bed of kosher salt and it creates a flavor seal that makes the potato soft and fluffy on the inside and nicely textured on the outside. But when I looked at these babies, I didn’t see just a simple baked potato. No. I saw a monster-sized vegan twice-baked potato, with a spinach garlic white sauce complimented by soft, fluffy mashed potato- topped with savory portobello mushrooms to add the perfect “meaty” compliment. The potatoes came home with me- and I used them to make a vegan version of my beloved garlic spinach pie recipe. And- I do believe the recipe was a success! I tested it out on DH first, who can be skeptical of some vegan recipes. He pronounced it “good” and ate the whole thing, so I was encouraged. And, at our group, it went over quite well. In fact, I do believe people actually ate more of the twice baked potato version than the regular spinach pie. Yeah! Potatoes really are the best, and if you’ve been missing a twice baked potato due to complex allergies or the difficulty of making it vegan, why not try my recipe? And please, tell me what you think, or if you have your own vegan twice-baked recipe to share.

Here are some of my other riffs on spinach-garlic goodness:
Dairy Free Spinach Piecan be vegan with the right pie crust or the shepard’s pie topping
Spinach Pie or Shepard’s Spinach Pie Non-vegan
Spinach Tartlets using Chebe Non-vegan

This is my second entry for Tasty Palettes ‘one-off’ Vegan Challenge in honor of November, national vegan month.

Twice Baked Spinach Garlic Stuffed Potatoes
Ingredients
4 large russet potatoes, scrubbed and cleaned
kosher salt
canola or other vegan margarine, or favorite high quality flavorful oil like olive oil or coconut oil

1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp vegan margarine (or more olive oil)
1-2 tbsp fine brown rice flour
2 cups (more or less, to taste) rice milk, plain
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1+ package fresh spinach, cooked and drained, chopped
Garlic powder to taste

1 portobello mushroom, stemmed, thinly sliced
salt, pepper

Directions
Take baking dish and sprinkle with a layer of kosher salt (large grain). Cover the entire surface of the dish entire bottom of the dish. Prepare your potatoes, making sure to remove any eyes but keep the cuts shallow and leave as much of the skin intact as possible. Place your washed, dried potatoes on the salt covered baking sheet and bake them at 375 or 425 (your preferred temperature) for 1-2 hours, or until the potato squishes slightly when you press it. Rotate your potatoes a few times during that cooking process to make sure it bakes evenly. When potatoes are done, slice them in half horizontally and gently remove most of the baked potato flesh, leaving a nice potato skin boat. Rice the baked potatoes if possible and then fold into them some canola margarine or olive oil (or other favorite oil, coconut might be nice if you have it) and rice milk. Salt and pepper to taste. Make sure your mashed potatoes are not soupy- you want them to be fluffy and fairly dry. If you like, you can enjoy half or more of these mashed potatoes for a snack or side dish right away. You only need about half or a quarter of the recipe for the stuffed potatoes.

This step can be done the night before. Just keep your potato skins and mashed potatoes refrigerated.
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Preheat oven to 375.

Heat your oil and margarine (if using) in the pan until margarine has melted but not browned. Throw in your diced onions and let them start to get translucent. Add your pressed garlic. When the pan begins to release the fragrance of garlic, mix in your fine brown rice flour and let it begin to toast slightly. Add a little garlic powder and mix into the roux. Gradually add your rice milk (I used organic, brown rice milk) and create a light white sauce. Whisk often to avoid lumps. When you’ve created a nice white sauce, add your nutritional yeast (this adds both color and flavor) and your chopped, drained spinach. When dish has heated through, add a quarter of your mashed potato to the filling and combine. If desired, add more mashed potatoes to taste. Taste and add additional garlic powder as you like.

Heat cast iron pan with olive oil and a little margarine if desired. Add your thin portobello mushroom slices and add salt and pepper to taste. When they have softened, turn them over.

To prepare: Fill your potato boats with the spinach white sauce potato filling and top with portobello mushroom strips. Place in oven and bake until they are heated through and take on a golden brown tinge. Plate and enjoy!

Notes
When cooking for our celiac group, I try to avoid allergens as much as possible. Earth Balance is a Vegan, Gluten-Free margarine, but I don’t believe it is soy free, which is a must for some of our members. To make this recipe strictly vegan, you could use Earth Balance or a high quality olive oil or coconut oil. The margarine I used had minor amounts of whey flavoring (the very last ingredient, under flavorings, a sub-component of “flavoring”), making it not strictly Vegan, but it was 100% lactose free. Lactose is often a problem for (newly diagnosed) Celiacs.

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8 Responses to “The Gluten Free Vegan Challenge: Vegan Twice Baked Potato Recipe”

  1. I’ve yet to find a margarine that is soy-free and milk protein free (whey has lactose and dairy protein in it- ugh). Olive oil seems to be the best choice- for me.

    I wanted to tell you- I’ve been making a basic white sauce using nutritional yeast and a white rice milk I found. I am stoked. Lots of possibilities there. So thank you for your nutritional yeast enthusiasm.

    As for baked potatoes? They were my mainstay when I first went gluten-free. I top them with mounds of balsamic-roasted vegetables. Sometimes I add baby greens to the mix. Talk about yum. ;)

    Your twice baked recipe sounds intriguing.

    Karina

  2. Hey Sea,

    Thats one monstrous baked potato. I am yet to try nutritional yeast. I read it adds cheesy flavour to the dish. As for baking potatoes, I either microwave it, puncturing the skin few times. But for best results, I pressure cook it. It is a lot easier and faster. Thanks for participating again :)

  3. Heya Karina! Yup, I hear you on the margarine. It is rather shocking to me that all of the margarines on the market have either soy or milk- such a bummer. Oil does seem the way to go.

    I’m completely jazzed that you are enjoying the nutritional yeast! Yay!

    -Sea

    Hi Suganya, Unfortunately I don’t have a pressure cooker- but I love to bake potatoes in the oven for the extra flavor/ great texture. I usually do a big batch at a time and use the extras in recipes. I do like microwaved potatoes for recipes like hash browns, when I’m in a hurry. :)
    -Sea

  4. Thanks so much for this tasty recipe! Here is a link to my blog when I made your recipe and linked back to you. http://www.angelaskitchen.com/Angelas_Kitchen/Blog/Entries/2008/3/21_.html

    I used half yams and half russets. Potato heaven! Thanks again. This is a keeper!

  5. [...] nights dinner was so tasty!  Thanks, Book of Yum!  Back in the say, we were the vegan family, and we still don’t do dairy (because it doesn’t [...]

  6. [...] You probably already have ideas for preparing and dressing your b aked potatoes. If not, several sites have published recipes that will help get your creative juices flowing. Many of these recipes are for "twice baked potatoes, in which potatoes are baked, and the insides are carefully removed from the skins and mixed with other ingredients. The final steps are to return the mixture to the skins and complete the baking process. Try these recipes from The Baking Beauties, Gluten Free Kiwi, and The Book of Yum. [...]

  7. Hi! I tried your recipe today and I loved it! Thank you for sharing this. Do you mind if I link to your recipe on my blog? Thanks!

  8. Just thought I’d mention that Earth balance has a soy-free dairy-free option these days, so margarine is back as an option for allergen-free folks. :D

    -Sea
    3-28-2011

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