I’ll admit that I’ve never been a loaded-baked-potato-for-dinner kinda gal. When someone would tell me that was his or her dinner, I’d just be like that and…what else? It just never sounded like something that could fill me up, no matter how “loaded.” Plus, stuff! I like to eat different stuff, and so do my kids. If we’re only having two things for dinner (say pasta and salad) my kids are VERY adamant about the “missing” third thing, even if the pasta includes a protein. It appears the classic meat/starch/veg dinner is ingrained in all of our minds.
That all changed when we first ate these sausage-stuffed potatoes. Yes, though they do have spinach, we still pair them with a vegetable or a salad so they aren’t the only thing we eat. But man, are they both tasty and filling. Just think of a creamy sausage sauce (made creamy with mascarpone, *drool*) that you spoon over a baked potato instead of over pasta. Use chicken or turkey sausage (which we usually do) and these are also fairly healthy. I was hesitant about leftovers, but those are great, too.
The sausage sauce comes together in no time but obviously it takes a while to cook a baked potato. What I usually do if I’m making this on a weeknight is bake the potatoes the day before and then reheat them in a 400º oven the following day while I’m making the sausage filling (I often need to pop them in the microwave for a minute before doing this, just to make sure the inside gets hot in that time). These have become a family favorite and, despite their still-confusing dislike of mashed potatoes, my kids love these baked potatoes.
Creamy Sausage and Spinach-Stuffed Baked Potatoes
- 10 minutes
- 1 hour
- 6 servings
- 6 (~8 oz.) russet potatoes
- 2 Tbsp. olive or grapeseed oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/8 - 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 lb. sweet or spicy Italian sausage (we use chicken), removed from casings
- 2.25 cups marinara sauce
- 6 oz. baby spinach
- 1/2 cup Mascarpone cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, plus more for serving
- 3 Tbsp. chopped basil
- Preheat the oven to 350º. Scrub the potatoes under cold water and then dry them. Poke each potato several times with a fork, and then toss in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Season the potatoes generously with kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Bake directly on the oven rack for about 50 minutes, or until skin is crisp and the inside feels tender.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, a pinch of salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Cook, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Add the sausage, breaking it up into chunks as you brown it. Cook until browned and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Stir in the marinara sauce and spinach. Simmer until the spinach is wilted. Off the heat, stir in the Mascarpone, Parmesan, and 2 tablespoons of the basil. Taste and season if needed.
- Once they are cool enough to handle, cut a slit in the top of each potato and gently squeeze the ends to form an opening. Use a fork to break up the insides a bit, then season with salt and pepper.
- Spoon equal parts sausage sauce over each potato. Sprinkle with the remaining basil and serve with additional Parmesan.