Twice-baked potatoes with black beans, veggies and “cheese” sauce (vegan/gf)

Potatoes are one of my winter staple foods – in fact, there is a farm at the local indoor market that specializes in supplying tasty taters all year round, and I tend to pick up a batch every week or two. Well, as much as I love potatoes, it can get boring having them just about the same (albeit delicious) way every week (roasting is my favorite, especially with some baked beans and veggies… yum!). I’ve seen several postings about either stuffed or topped baked potatoes lately on my favorite blogs, and as I gazed today into the sad eyes (yes literally, in some cases) of my neglected potatoes, I saw a tasty Mexican-inspired topping in their future.

IMG_3557SUCCESS. I licked my plate. ‘Nuff said.

Okay, let’s get right to this one, because it was truly a taste bud tickler, and quite versatile, to boot!

Twice-baked potatoes with black beans and “cheese” sauce

If you’re in a time-crunch, you could skip the filling and re-baking step – just slice open your baked taters and add plenty of topping! Sweet potatoes would also work GREAT, as would other vegetables and bean or lentil combinations. Have fun and enjoy! 

4 medium or large potatoes (I used a combination of red and gold)

Black bean topping:

1 TBS olive oil

1 small onion (or half a larger onion), diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp each: chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, oregano (ground if possible), salt, black pepper

1 tsp cumin

dash (or more, to taste) cayenne

about 1 TBS warm water or bean cooking liquid

1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (or 1 can, drained and rinsed)

1/4 cup frozen corn, rinsed

2 cups spinach, loosely packed, chopped

1 tomato, diced

1 TBS rice vinegar

juice of 1 lime

Filling:

scooped-out potato innards

1/4 cup salsa

1/4 cup vegan cheese sauce*

Possible extras (get creative!):

1 avocado, diced

cilantro

green onions

hot sauce

* I used the “cheese” sauce method found on Savvy Vegetarian’s blog – I substituted almond butter for the cashew butter and I added more nutritional yeast to thicken it up (although it did thicken when I let it rest). DELICIOUS!

Bake the potatoes – everyone has a preferred method, and whatever you like will work, but I did mine at 350 for about an hour. Meanwhile, prepare the “cheese” sauce according to Savvy Vegetarian’s recipe HERE (that’s the third time I’ve linked to it in this post… it’s not to be missed :). You can also prep the ingredients for the topping, and you can start cooking it now, and then just let it sit and simmer while you wait for everything else to come together (or if you’re not baking the potatoes twice). When the potatoes are done (the relative ease of a fork-poking test is a good indicator), take them out but leave the oven on. Let them cool a little, then slice them in half lengthwise. Scoop out the “innards” into a bowl, add salsa and 1/4 cup “cheese” sauce, and mash it all together.  Spoon it back into the potatoes and pop them back in the oven (on a bake sheet) for 15 minutes. Now for the bean topping: heat oil in a skillet on medium-high, then saute the onion for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and spices and heat for about 3 minutes, taking care not to burn either. Turn heat down to medium-low and add water or cooking water to “deglaze” the pan. Add beans, corn, spinach, and tomato and simmer until spinach is wilted and corn is warmed through. Add vinegar and lime juice right before serving. After the second baking, smother the potatoes in the bean topping and extra “cheese” sauce, then add any additional toppings before serving. Enjoy!

Serves 4.  There may be leftover bean topping and “cheese” sauce unless you use particularly large potatoes. The more the merrier, I say!

IMG_3548“CHEESE!” I was definitely eating this stuff out of the pan with a spoon. Good thing I wasn’t cooking for company…

IMG_3555Ready for a second bake…

IMG_3550The beans anxiously waiting for the potatoes to emerge from the oven…

IMG_3558…SO THEY CAN SMOTHER THEM WITH TASTINESS!

IMG_3561Vegan carnage.

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