Baked Sweet Potato Fries
These ‘fries’ are so yummy and easy. They make a great snack or a nice side that goes with many dishes. We just had them for dinner with simple scrambled eggs and wilted spinach (dressed with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice). Healthy and satisfying, and only 45 minutes total kitchen time from start to served.
You can get very creative with a meal like this. What three items would you put side-by-side in a bowl for dinner?
I have yet to see an orange-fleshed yam here in Argentina. Based on what I have found in my research online, what I am buying at the market here is a true sweet potato. They have pink/purple/brownish skins with off-white flesh and sometimes a little purple mottling inside. In Argentina they are called ‘batatas’. They tend to be pretty sweet tasting, and cook up on the dry side- so I pretty much always prepare them with some oil (unless I steam them). In other recipes (not this one) I add lemon juice while cooking which helps keeps them moist without having to use crazy amounts of oil.
Either sweet potatoes or yams (or regular potatoes, or other root vegetables) work great in this recipe, and it doesn’t matter if you know the difference or not! If you’re curious, here’s a good guide that explains the difference between yams and sweet potatoes.
Baked carrot, parsnip, and beet 'fries'
The sweet potatoes here start to oxidize immediately when peeled and cut. So I keep a bowl of salted water standing by to drop them into immediately after peeling. Then I can take one out at a time to cut into wedges. The wedges then go straight into the olive oil mix. These steps prevent discoloring, but might not be needed depending on what sweet potatoes you are using.
A couple of tips for making crispy ‘fries’ versus soft, baked sweet potatoes:
1. Spread the wedges in the pan so that there is a little space around each 'fry'. They will shrink as they cook, so they can be almost touching to start. This space is what allows them to get crispy. Otherwise, they will still taste good but will stay soft. I like them golden brown and crispy.
2. Use a hot oven. In general, I bake everything somewhere between 350 and 400 F (175 and 200 C). For baked sweet potato fries I use the upper end of this range to make them crisp.
The oven is my favorite way to cook. Roasting and baking do take a little time... but it’s not active time. Around 7pm each evening I start dinner. Often that means cutting up veggies of some sort and popping them in the oven (with olive oil and salt, at least). Then they can roast for 30-60 minutes (depending on what it is) while I do other things to wind up my day. At the end, I can come back to the kitchen and prepare the rest of the meal. Yes, I like fancy meals, but I’m not going to take the time to cook them every night! We usually eat dinner around 8 or 8:30pm.
In my opinion, sweet potato dishes don’t store very well in the fridge. If you do end up with leftovers (which I doubt!), you can put them in the fridge and then reheat them in a little oil on the stove.
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Recipe for Baked Sweet Potato Fries
This makes one large cookie sheet or baking tray of sweet potatoes. It's the perfect amount for me and my husband to eat in one sitting. Adjust the quantities to make more or less. Depending on your oven, you could cook two or more trays at a time.
3 Sweet Potatoes or Yams (peeled and cut into fry-size wedges or sticks)
1 teaspoon Salt (plus more to taste at the end)
1/2 teaspoon Chili powder (optional, or add more if you love spice)
Heat oven to 400 F (200 C).
Toss the washed and prepped sweet potatoes or yams with a few glugs of olive oil, the 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder. Toss well so that each wedge is lightly and completely coated. You can do this in a bowl, or I usually do it in the same pan I will baking them in. (I hate to make extra dishes to wash!)
Spread the wedges out into one even layer with a little space around each piece.
Bake 15 minutes. Toss and spread them out evenly again with space around each fry. Bake another +/-10 minutes until fully cooked and turning brown and crispy. Turn off the heat and keep them warm in the oven until ready to serve. They will continue to get a little bit crispier, so keep an eye on them.
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