Stuffed Potatoes with Cypriot flavours

I’ve long been an admirer of potatoes. I never used to eat them much, at the height of low carbing, and then I realised that they were much maligned, along with the larger sized among us. I still feel a pang of naughty when I eat them, but it’s a mere wisp of a pang, and easily squashed, usually with butter and salt.

I saw a recipe on Ottolenghi’s Test Kitchen for Twice baked feta potatoes with za’atar pesto, and it sat in my brain for a few days until I worked out what I wanted. I love feta, don’t get me wrong, but I wanted more herbs, something a little lighter.

This is Twice Baked Halloumi Potatoes with a Mint and Pistachio Pesto.

You will need a blender for the pesto, probably, or a spice grinder, but do feel free to use a pestle and mortar if you are up to it!

2 large baking potatoes
1 250g block of halloumi, finely grated – set aside 4 or 5 tbs to go in the pesto
The same amount of cheddar, finely grated
4 tbs chopped fresh mint
4 tbs fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbs dried mint
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped (optional)
1 egg

Pesto
4 tbs pistachios
4 tbs chopped fresh mint
4 tbs fresh parsley, chopped
5 tbs olive oil extra virgin PLEASE
1 clove garlic

Bake your potatoes.
I have 2 ways of doing this.
As I was at home, doing nothing, I just popped them in a 200C oven for an hour until a skewer went all the way through easily.
A weeknight jacket is 5 minutes in the microwave – pierce that skin! – until the middle is just tender, then coat with oil, and bake them at 200C in an oven proof tray until golden brown and crispy all over.

Allow to cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthways and scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Leave enough on the skin so that it holds a shape.
Mix the potato fluff with the cheese, herbs plus a decent glug of olive oil. A couple of tablespoons I’d say.
Taste it. Add salt here if you need it.
Then mix in the one egg.

Spoon the filling back into the potato skins, then bake at 200C again until the tops are browned.

Pesto (yes yes, I know, it’s got no basil in it but means just means paste.)

Put all the herbs, oil, garlic, cheese and nuts into a blender or food processor.
BLITZ.
If it’s too thick to pour, thin it with a little water at a time until you get it to how you want it.
You can add chile to this as well if you like, it’s up to you.

This is best eaten when it’s cooled a little, and you can just pick it up, plunge into the dip and munch.

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