Many 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 Pie – can 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
4 large russet potatoes, scrubbed and cleaned
canola or other vegan margarine, or favorite high quality flavorful oil like olive oil or coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 portobello mushroom, stemmed, thinly sliced
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.
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!
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.