whole food ~ well made

Assorted baked potato bar at

Dinner 911: Make Your Own Winning Baked Potato Bar

Right this very moment, while I am inside staying warm and dry, all the growers I know are putting in overtime (as if there’s anything else) to bring in the harvest.

Every morning we wake to the glitter of frost and think, “How lovely!” They are thinking, “Hurry up!”

A few Sunday’s ago, my whole family pitched in at Backyard Gardens (BYG)  to unearth those tubers we so love in so many ways. {Hello, old friend stuffed baked potato.} Honestly, I thought Molly & Cece would last all of 13 1/2 minutes at the task.

Yes, it’s backbreaking, it’s dirty, it’s tedious… It’s also a treasure hunt. One that even hooks adults.

potato harvest 2

I was astounded to see the undying enthusiasm among everyone who helped out on that day to find every single one in the ground, to yelp with delight at the discovery of an especially humongous spud {the biggest weighed 1 3/4 pounds} and to groan when a poor helpless potato got stabbed with the garden fork.

As the sun slanted toward Chief Joseph Mountain, the girls helped BYG owner Beth weigh up the 100-pound bags that she’ll store and sell in bulk to her faithful customers and CSA members.

The Potato Bar Toppings

I think the crew would have worked ’til sundown (we harvested 650 pounds but didn’t even get to fork up those darlin’ fingerlings) if I didn’t call them all to supper.

Baked potato bar at

A potato bar with all the fixin’s: sautéed chard, caramelized onions, chili, homemade salsa, goat cheese, cheddar cheese, feta cheese–and all the butter and sour cream you could stand–was laid out on a table in the field.

With hands scrubbed as best we could, we sat on overturned buckets and feasted on those fresh-dug potatoes. Each person made their own combination of toppings for a personalized loaded potato to love.

Molly went for the classic butter and sour cream, Cece ventured into the black bean territory while I piled on chard with those onions and goat cheese.

Assorted baked potato bar at

In my searching for good toppings, I found few items you cannot put on top of a boiled/baked/microwaved/steamed whole potato in its jacket.

A Leftovers Party

They’re ideal for leftovers from curried vegetables to beef stew or even thick soups. And when the fridge is bare but for limp broccoli and a lump of cheese? Put it on a hot potato.

We’re officially adopting this “happy meal” into our dinner rotation when homework and sports put a premium on quick and easy or what we parents call Dinner 911. I’m even thinking that this is the ideal menu for a Halloween Party.

What’s atop your fresh-dug spud?


and become a forager

Baked Potato Bar with Three Topping Ideas

A versatile meal that makes use of leftovers: what’s not to love? Along with russets, try yukon gold, purple, blue or other heirloom potatoes. Baking is best, but if you are pressed for time, the microwave cooks a baker through in just 6 minutes, barely enough time to assemble the toppings! These ideas for broccoli-cheese, bacon-sour cream and chili-onion are just starting places. Go with your gut and scour your fridge for tasty bits. You cannot go wrong.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Lynne Curry


  • 4 large baking potatoes organic
  • vegetable oil, for baking
  • 4 tablespoons butter pastured

Broccoli-cheddar topping:

  • 1 cup broccoli florets, steamed save stems for stir fry
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Bacon-sour cream topping:

  • 4 strips bacon, chopped and cooked until crisp
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Chili-onion topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups chili homemade or canned
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion


  • To bake the potatoes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Stab the well-scrubbed potatoes with a fork in several places, then rub with oil. For a tender skin, wrap the potatoes in foil, or for a drier skin, skip this step.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, then turn and bake until fork tender, about 20 minutes more. When cool enough to handle, split the potatoes in half, arrange them on a platter cut side up and add a pat of butter to melt into the flesh.
  • Top the potatoes with the broccoli-cheese, bacon-sour cream and chili-onion as desired. Or, you can put out all the toppings and let everyone make their own.


To save time, you can boil, steam or microwave the potatoes instead of baking them, which can take nearly an hour.
To boil: Cut the potatoes in half and cover them with cool water. Bring the water to a boil, cover and adjust heat to simmer potatoes steadily until you can pierce the easily with a fork, about 25 minutes.
To steam: Add about 2 inches of water to a large pot with a steamer insert and cover. Add the potatoes and bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat to steam potatoes until you can pierce them easily with a fork–but be sure to hold your face away when you lift the lid to check them–about 30 minutes.
To microwave: Do you really need instructions? I didn’t think so.


  1. Harvesting the potato must be so much fun.

  2. It’s a treasure hunt for young and old alike!

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