Smashed potatoes topped with sauces, vegan cheese, and/or other vegetables are (at least) twice as easy to make as twice-baked potatoes. Here are some easy ideas for making tasty vegan smashed potatoes — all recipe-free — except one that needs more precise directions to make a yummy mushroom gravy.
The nooks and crannies created by simply smashing potatoes are nifty little receptacles for all manner of toppings. There’s no need for measuring or mixing, nor to be particularly neat. And take note that sweet potatoes are just as good for smashing as regular potatoes — maybe even better, with their smooth, malleable flesh.
Twice-baked potatoes, AKA stuffed potatoes, seem like they’d be an easy thing to prepare for quick meals. They have “comfort food” written all over them. But if you’re preparing them for several people, it can be a project. Let’s say you start with four big potatoes. You have to neatly scoop out eight centers just so, leaving not too thin or thick a shell.
Then, you need to mash and combine the scooped-out flesh with other ingredients that have been prepped and cooked. The resulting mixture must then be stuffed neatly back into the potato shells (with the hope that you didn’t add in too many or too few additional ingredients). And finally, it all needs to be heated up in some way, hence, “twice baked.” Smashed potatoes save you a lot of steps, and it the end taste just as good even if they’re not as picture-perfect visually.
Smashed potatoes can be the main event of a light meal. Adding a simple green salad with added chickpeas or a bean salad and you’re done. My family’s personal favorites are pizza potatoes (see further down in the post) and broccoli and (vegan) cheddar, shown at top.
Here are the basic steps:
1 Use large potatoes (golden potatoes are my favorite for this, though russets work, too) or sweet potatoes, allowing one whole potato per person. Scrub the potatoes well, because you’ll be serving them on the plate with their skins. Of course, you can eat the skins if the potatoes are organic and you can get the skins really clean.
2 Microwave the potatoes until easily pierced with a fork. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Arrange cut side up on a platter or in a baking dish, depending on whether you’ll be reheating in the microwave or in the oven. Or, if you’re making this just for one, simply arrange on a heatproof dinner plate.
3 Smash each half with a large fork, nearly all the way through. You can use a potato masher, but honestly, so much of the potato flesh gets stuck in the grooves. Some large potatoes, like russets, are a bit mealy, so drizzling a bit of nondairy milk over their surfaces before adding the toppings can improve the consistency. You can add extra richness by working some vegan buttery spread into the nooks (about 1/2 teaspoon per potato half is sufficient).
4 Now the fun begins — arrange toppings generously on each potato or sweet potato half. Finally, if need be, reheat in the microwave or in a 350º F oven before serving.
Here are some ideas to get you started. These smashed potato ideas are presented as semi-recipes, so that you can make a meal for one or several. Having your potatoes or sweet potatoes pre-baked means you can make a nearly-instant meal, just when you need it.
Pizza smashed potatoes
Using potatoes instead of a bread-based pizza can become a family favorite for kids of all ages, and a perfect emergency dinner. Also, do you love pizza flavors but not the heavy crust? Or are you gluten free? Pizza potatoes are a great alternative.
Simply spoon some marinara sauce over the surface of the potatoes, followed by a sprinkling of mozzarella-style grated vegan cheese. Then pile on your favorite pizza-compatible veggies (finely chopped and lightly steamed) — any combination of broccoli florets, mushrooms, bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini, or olives. Finish with a dusting of dried oregano.
Broccoli and cheddar smashed potatoes
Sprinkle grated vegan cheddar shreds over the surfaces of the smashed potatoes, followed by finely chopped and steamed broccoli florets. For a nice flavor boost, top with a sprinkling of scallions, chopped black olives, or sun-dried tomatoes.
Photo: Hannah Kaminsky; courtesy of VegKitchen.com
Chili smashed potatoes
Simply used leftover chili or a can of good-quality vegan chili (like Amy’s). Top with cilantro, a dollop of salsa, and/or a sprinkling of vegan cheddar cheese. This is excellent on sweet potatoes as well as golden potatoes.
Photo: Hannah Kaminsky; courtesy of VegKitchen.com
Pesto and mushrooms
This one works great on sweet potatoes! Spoon your favorite vegan pesto on the surface of the smashed potatoes and top with wilted mushrooms.
Mushroom Gravy smashed potatoes
This is the only one that does require more of a formal recipe because of the gravy. But it’s worth the tiny bit of extra effort because … mmmmmushroom gravy —such comfort! Here’s the recipe.
Photo: Hannah Kaminsky
The possibilities are endless! Just see what’s in your crisper and go to town.
Onion and peppers smashed potatoes
Follow the simple formula for making caramelized onions with bell peppers on page 000. This is wonderful on golden or sweet potatoes, topped with a sprinkling of chopped briny black olives.
Nut butter and veggie smashed sweet potatoes
Top smashed sweet potatoes with bottled peanut satay sauce or Coconut Peanut Sauce or Dressing and any kind of steamed leafy greens you have on hand — this is particularly good with spinach, baby kale, or any chard variety. For extra excitement, top with finely diced avocado and/or minced fresh hot chilies. This is a favorite of mine!
Curried greens smashed potatoes
Wilt a batch of baby greens, then drain well and envelope in your favorite Indian simmer sauce. Top smashed sweet or golden potatoes.
Use other veggies you’ve got in your crisper. Leeks, kale, collard greens, green cabbage — any of these, solo or paired up, can make great toppings for smashed potatoes.
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