Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Sausage Stuffed Baked Potatoes with Arugula. Not as weird as it sounds.
When Giada made this a couple of years ago on her show I thought - "Nope."
Granted it's hard to make sausage look pretty, particularly when thrown in a baked potato drowning in marinara. But more than that I just thought the whole idea was messy and weird. Arugula? Tomato Sauce? Sausage? Potato? It reminds me of something a pregnant person would crave after accidentally eating a pot brownie.
But as they say, time changes everything. I ordered her latest book (official cookbook hoarder - HELP!), saw this recipe again and went huh, that looks pretty good actually. Just for the record I'm not pregnant nor do I have a stash of pot brownies lying around. Sadly.
Just to blow your mind a little more, I subbed cottage cheese for the mascarpone because I didn't have any on hand. It sure as hell didn't make it prettier but it passed the husband test and my thighs were grateful for the little switcharoo. I also added a slice of fresh mozzarella to the split potatoes before covering them in sauce (sorry thighs.) The cheese melted like butter giving the sauce a nice little place to get cozy in.
Speaking of the sauce it's pretty dang great on its own and would be delish in a more traditional environment. Like say, pasta.
Cheers to facing our fears. And eating them.
Baked Potatoes with Sausage and Arugula
Lightly adapted from Giada De Laurentiis.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed or chopped
1/2 pound sweet or spicy Italian-style turkey sausage, casings removed
1 1/2 cups tomato-basil or marinara sauce
3 cups baby arugula or basil
freshly grated nutmeg (my addition, out of habit)
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese (4 ounces), at room temperature OR low fat cottage cheese or ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, or to taste
4 baked russet potatoes, 8 to 10 ounces each (see Cook's Note, below)
4 thin slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, optional
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or basil
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the sausage and break up the meat into 1/2-inch pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook until browned and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the marinara sauce and arugula (or basil). Stir in a good pinch fresh grated nutmeg. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until the arugula has wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the mascarpone cheese (or cottage cheese or ricotta) and stir until the mixture forms a creamy sauce. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.
Cut a slit in the top of each baked potato and gently squeeze the ends to form an opening in the top. Lay over the slices of mozzarella if using, then spoon the sausage sauce into each potato. Garnish with parsley or basil.
Cook's Note: To bake the potatoes: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using a fork, prick the skins of the potatoes all over. Wrap each potato in foil and bake until tender, about 1 hour. To cook the potatoes in a microwave: Using a fork, prick the skins of the potatoes all over. Place 2 potatoes at a time on a dinner plate. Microwave on high for 8 minutes. Turn the potatoes over and microwave until soft, 6 to 8 more minutes.