When I was little, my family went to TGI Friday’s often due to my sheer adoration of the “broccoli cheese”, making it for don’t-know-what-else-to-get weeknights, as well as birthdays, completely with a balloon tied to the back of the chair, and post-dance recital celebrations. But perhaps more than the broccoli cheese soup, my memories are of the potato skins–crisp and crunchy, topped with melty cheesy and salty bacon, dunked into cool sour cream laden with sweet green onions that lent a lightening taste of the garden.
So now, twenty years later, I still crave those little crispy boats whenever any football-related event begs for junk food. The only problem is that deep frying potatoes and layering them with butter, cheese, bacon, and sour cream makes them anything but healthy.. and certainly anything but vegan. But that doesn’t keep me from indulging! Except, of course, making them my way.
Instead of swapping out every animal product with a processed vegan alternative, I decided to opt for a rich and creamy topping that’s full of flavor and festivity–guacamole. Everything is better with guacamole, as we all well know, and potato skins are most certainly included! You know what else makes everything better? Ranch dressing. And this vegan recipe does not disappoint. So while you wouldn’t mistake these bad boys for their bar food originals, you might just prefer them to their less-than-healthy counterparts. Why?
The skins are crisp and buttery and crunchy and a bit earthy, which makes for the perfect potatoey bed for the guacamole–creamy and rich and tart and spicy and smoky, it might just be the best guacamole you’ve had. Topped with a thin slice of fresh jalapeño and a sprig of cilantro, dipped in a cool, herbaceous vegan ranch, these guacamole potato skins are fit for company but simple enough to make for Sunday afternoon football, like O and I made for the atrocious Titans vs. Browns game.
And seriously, if there’s any team that can blow such a huge lead, it’s the Titans. I’ve threatened divorcing them for a shinier, less-losing of a team, like the Seahawks, for a while now. I mean, hey, my paternal family is from Seattle and said family has been keeping us in the Seahawks merch loop for decades now (though the Seahawks green in the 90s was not quite so um… fancy). That counts, right? I also have a painful crush (though I can determine whether it’s a friend crush, a bodyguard crush, or a crush-crush) on Richard Sherman, of which O is fully aware.. and I think pretty approving. Then again, he paid quite a lot to get Marshawn Lynch on his fantasy team, and the boy doesn’t disappoint. Does this mean I’m officially adopting the Seahawks? Maybe… just maybe.
- 5-6 small Russet potatoes, about 3" long
- 2-3 tablespoons Earth Balance (vegan butter), melted
- Kosher salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 3 ripe avocados, halved, seeded, and flesh scooped out
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- ½ medium onion, diced
- ½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 green onions, sliced thin
- 1 jalapeño, sliced thin, optional, for garnish
- fresh cilantro, chopped, optional, for garnish
- Ranch dressing:
- ¼ teaspoon lemon juice
- about ¼ cup unsweetened unflavored almond milk
- 1-2 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed, and minced
- Kosher salt, to taste
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
- 1 cup Just Mayo vegan mayonnaise
- ½ cup Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream
- A couple drops of white vinegar
- Fresh dill, to taste, optional
- Cayenne pepper, to taste, optional
- Paprika, to taste, optional
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Make ranch dressing: Make the "buttermilk": pour lemon juice into a measuring cup then fill to ¼ cup level with almond milk. Set aside and allow to curdle, about 10 minutes.
- On a cutting board, sprinkle some kosher salt on the minced garlic cloves and then, with the back of a fork, begin to smush and mash the garlic and salt into a paste. Combine garlic-salt paste, parsley, chives, Just Mayo vegan mayonnaise, and Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream in a medium bowl; whisk until smooth. Add "buttermilk" mixture, as necessary to thin to desired consistency. When desired consistency is reached, add a couple drops of white vinegar and any other additional ingredients, as desired. Taste and correct seasonings, adding more salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Chill in the refrigerator and allow flavors to meld while you make the potato skins.
- Make the potato skins: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Wash potatoes well and pierce all over with fork. Place potatoes directly on middle oven rack and bake until skins are crisp and a knife or fork pierces the potatoes easily, about 50 minutes. Meanwhile, make guacamole.
- In a large bowl combine the avocado meat and lime juice and toss to coat. Drain the lime juice off and reserve in a small bowl. Add smoked paprika, salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash with a potato masher, leaving some chunks for texture. Fold in the onions, jalapeño, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, and 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Set aside while you finish the potatoes.
- Once the potatoes are ready, remove and let cool about 10 minutes on a wire rack, or until the potatoes can be handled. Set oven to broil.
- Slice each potato in half, lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, leaving about ¼" of the flesh intact. Reserve the potato flesh for another use, like my tarragon mashed potato soup! Using a pastry brush, brush the insides of the potatoes with the melted butter and season well with salt and pepper. Turn the potatoes over and brush the skin sides with butter, and again season well with salt and pepper. Place potato halves skin-side up on a baking sheet and broil 'til the skin begin to brown and crisp, about 2 - 3 minutes (watch carefully so they don't burn!). Flip skins over and broil another 2 - 3 minutes, or until beginning to brown and crisp.
- Remove potato skins from oven and place on serving platter. Spoon dollops of guacamole on the potato skins and garnish with sliced green onions, sliced jalapeños, and chopped cilantro. Serve with ranch dressing immediately.