Baked Potato Bar — Meatless Monday

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Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell Prop Stylist: Pam Morris

Photo by: Kana Okada ©Kana Okada 2011

Kana Okada , Kana Okada 2011

Not merely a starchy side dish playing second string to the meaty entree, the everyday baked potato can be the star of your dinner simply by topping it with a few hearty ingredients. When it comes to stuffing baked potatoes, think of the spuds as blank canvases through which you can showcase your favorite flavors, textures and ingredient combinations inspired by some tried-and-true dishes. They’re plenty filling on their own, but when finished with fresh or roasted vegetables, creamy cheeses, eggs and more, baked potatoes are transformed into all-in-one suppers that are budget-friendly and quick to prepare.

When cooking for your family, particularly if you’re trying to cater to little ones’ picky palates while feeding your own adventurous appetite, it’s best to bake the potatoes first, then let everyone add their preferred toppings. Set up a baked potato bar complete with salsa, sour cream, roasted peppers, herbs, sauces and just about anything else you can imagine, so each person can assemble his or her own meal and get exactly what they like.

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Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell Prop Stylist: Pam Morris

Photo by: Kana Okada ©Kana Okada 2011

Kana Okada , Kana Okada 2011

Before you start experimenting with unique topping blends, check out Food Network Magazine’s ultimate roundup of 50 Stuffed Potatoes, packed with easy recipes that are ideal for Meatless Monday dinners as well as beefy entrees for the rest of the week. Are you a fan of traditional creamed spinach? If so, try topping a potato with an indulgent mixture of buttery shallots, spinach and half-and-half. To make the Mushroom-Onion potato (pictured above), start with a layer of tender sauteed mushrooms, then add soft caramelized onions, a spoonful of tangy sour cream and fragrant dill. Do you prefer sweet potatoes to white russets? Feature them as the base of the Mango Black Bean potato (pictured right), topped with a refreshing salsa-like combination of mango, tomato, cilantro and black beans.

Browse all of Food Network Magazine’s 50 Stuffed Potatoes to find more inspiration for Meatless Monday cooking and beyond.

Meatless Monday, an international movement, encourages people everywhere to cut meat one day a week for personal and planetary health. Browse more Meatless Monday recipes.

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