health

Spruce up your spud

I have a few staple lunch time meals that I end up having most days. It’s usually either a cheese salad sandwich of some sort with a snack, soup with a roll, a salad or the classic jacket potato with beans and cheese. Soup or a spud tends to be my cold day lunch with salads and sandwiches being more of an all rounder/summer lunch.

Being the impatient student that I was (and still am), I used to ‘bake‘ jacket potatoes in the microwave for 4 minutes on either side and be done with it. Usually this meant that the spud had a very uncooked texture with lumpy bits that I tended to overlook.

Now that I am a strong, independent renter with tonnes of time on my hand from my lack of lectures I took a stab at doing spuds the correct way. Baking them in the oven! This as well as a few twists along the way that I thought I would share with you. Because of course, you need to know how to spruce up your spud!

First off, you’ll need to pick out your very own favourite chosen spud/jacket potato from your collection and give it a quick wash and scrub over under some running water.

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You’re then going to want to place your budding spud onto a lined oven tray. I use greaseproof paper because i’m definitely not just lazy and it stops the spud from sticking to the tray. I then prove i’m even lazier by dousing the spud with sunflower oil (or fry-light for a syn free option to slimming world-ers!) to stop EVEN MORE sticking (but also to crisp up the skin of course).

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Next I crack out the big guns. This is where the ‘sprucing‘ really goes down you see. HERBS! It sounds so simple?! So easy?! Too good to be true?! Honestly, a few sprinkles of italian herb mix and garlic granules go a long way for me. Also, if you ever have the option to get a built-in herb and spice rack, go for it. This thing is amazing and brings so much more flavour to our bog standard student meals.

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The precise placement of italian herbs in stages. Take notes.
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Less stages but no less flavour here

Then you end up with a perfectly seasoned spud ready for it’s baking …

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Then it’s into the oven at ~220 degrees (428F) for the first 30 minutes and then down to ~180 degrees (356F) for another year hour. Or you can miss the timings like I clearly did based on my oven clock… To be honest, if you’re getting hungry by 45 minutes you can opt for a less fluffy potato. It wont hurt. During all of this waiting you can waste away your life over a mid-morning coffee trying to get your uni work to actually work or just aimlessly stare at black screens like I do.

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Finally you can open up that oven to get smacked in the face by a heat wave so that your glasses fog up and you can’t see anything. In all seriousness, be careful not to burn yourself if you wear glasses…

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You’ll want to transfer the tray onto a heatproof mat and then jab it with a fork and quickly transfer the fluffy potato to a plate to be severed for optimum topping placement. I opted for some light mayonnaise (2 syns per tbsp) paired with EVEN MORE herbs and some paprika for good measure! I had run out of baked beans so this is what I go for in times of need…

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Then you can relax with your favourite YouTube show or blog and indulge in the luxury that is the spruced up spud.

Plus look at this minimal cleaning afterwards? A student’s dream!

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Don’t worry if you don’t get it right first time. Baking a spruced spud takes years of mastery and fine tuning with your oven… Happy sprucing!

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