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When it comes to side dishes, especially if you’re making a hearty meal like perfectly grilled steaks, almost nothing can be the delicious simplicity of a baked potato. But there are a lot of ways that making this seemingly easy dish can go wrong, as anyone who has ever suffered through a brutally dry, tragically undercooked, or soggy-skinned baked potato can tell you. Thankfully, it’s just the type of recipe Ina Garten knows how to make perfectly, and her crusty baked potatoes aren’t just tasty in they’re own right — they’re also topped with a totally trendy whipped feta that you’ll want to slather on everything at your next dinner party.
The first thing that makes Ina Garten’s baked potato recipe from Make It Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook special is the flavorful, crusty skins. She makes them by first coating a foil-covered sheet pan with a blend of rosemary, thyme, lemon zest, and fleur de sel, then rolling the olive-oil rubbed potatoes in the mixture before placing the pan in the oven. As the potatoes cook, the fragrant herb and citrus salt blend infuses them with flavor, and also help the potato skins get extra-crispy.
Then comes the topping. Garten makes a luscious, tangy baked potato topping of whipped feta. The feta cheese is blended with a bit of cream cheese, olive oil, and lemon juice, then seasoned simply with salt and pepper, though we think it could be delicious with some fresh herbs added, too.
Whipped feta seems so fancy, but it’s really so easy to make, as Garten’s recipe shows. Once you make it for the first time, you’ll want to put it on everything! Serve it with warm bread and crackers, use it as a filling for stuffed chicken breasts or lasagna, spread it over flatbread with fresh sliced figs and a drizzle of honey — the options are basically endless.
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