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There’s nothing like a baked potato to evoke comfort and nostalgia, be it the quickest of lunches or the most leisurely of suppers. When I was growing up, my mother would often put potatoes cooked in their ‘jackets’ (as she called them) on the table, filled with whatever happened to be in the fridge and needed eating up at the time. Usually it would be something ultra simple like canned baked beans, or shrimps with ketchup-laced mayonnaise but they would always be gratefully received and eaten with huge satisfaction.
I wanted to switch the nutritional content up a notch by ensuring a plentiful helping of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, whilst recreating those cozy times gone by. And though my children aren’t as fond of sardines as I am, this recipe is a winner in our house because their flavor doesn’t dominate. Rather, the oily salinity of the olives and anchovies balances the potatoes’ natural sweetness, which I tend to find quite cloying on occasion.
What could be more time saving than leaving a scrubbed sweet potato in the oven, whilst you busy yourself doing something more interesting. Such as putting your feet up and snatching a bit of “me” time perhaps? You only need return for the final ten minutes to make your filling, set the table and enjoy!
- 4 medium sweet potatoes
- 1 tbsp solid fat (lard) + extra for the sweet potatoes
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 5 oz brown mushrooms, chopped
- 2 plump garlic cloves, minced
- 6 anchovy fillets (from a can, rinsed)
- 1 tbsp oregano, finely chopped
- ½ cup green pitted olives, chopped*
- ½ bunch green kale, roughly chopped
- 2 cans sardines, packed in spring water or olive oil and drained
- Small handful flat parsley, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prick each sweet potato several times and place them on a large baking sheet and bake for around 1 hour, depending on their size.
- Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan and add the fat.
- Throw in the onion and sweat on a low heat for 6-8 minutes, until soft and translucent.
- Now turn up the heat to medium, put the mushrooms into the pan, stir to coat them with the fat and cook for 3-4 minutes until golden around the edges.
- Add the garlic, anchovies and oregano and cook a further minute or two.
- Add the olives and kale to the pan, cook around 3-4 minutes until the kale wilts, then add the sardines and warm through, breaking them up into large mouthfuls with a wooden spoon.
- Finally, throw in the parsley and combine everything.
- Split the sweet potatoes lengthwise down the middle and drop a knob of solid fat into each one. Top with the sardine mixture and serve immediately.