One of the first things my 17 year old son asks after school is, “what are we having for dinner? His second question is invariably, “what are we having with it?” The side dish has become almost as important as the main meal in our household.
Sweet potato fries are a side dish that is easy to make, inexpensive, healthy and flavorful.
There are three varieties of sweet potatoes and yams available where I shop, so I choose to make tricolor fries to give a little variety to the flavor.
Start by peeling the sweet potatoes and trimming the ends. Cut into fairly uniform 1/4 inch wide fries about 3″ long. Keeping the sizes consistent will allow the fries to finish baking at the same time.
Toss in a small amount of olive oil. This keeps the fries from sticking to the pan and helps the seasoning to adhere to the surface.
Sprinkle with the seasonings of your choice and toss again. Below are the seasonings I use:
• Finely ground sea salt • Fresh ground black pepper • Garlic powder • Paprika
Although sweet potatoes and yams have a natural sweetness, if you wish to steer the flavor more toward the traditional candied yams, add brown sugar to the rest of the seasonings. If you decide to use brown sugar, take special care when baking. The sugar makes the fries easier to burn.
Spread the fries in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a 450 degree oven, turning occasionally. Remove when tender. I also like a hint of charing on a few of the fries for extra flavor. Let sit for at least 5 minutes to cool.
What do sweet potato fries go with? Start with almost anything you would have french fries with: Burgers, steak, chicken and so on. Add to that, anything that might sound like a good pairing with SPFs. How about trying the fries with a turkey burger? Ground turkey has less fat than ground beef, and with the turkey and sweet potatoes you’re not far from a Thanksgiving day feast.
A couple interesting facts about sweet potatoes:
• The Center for Public Interest rates sweet potatoes as the number one nutritional vegetable. Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin C, copper, fiber, vitamin B-6, potassium and iron as well as an impressive list of antioxidants.
• Is the sweet potato really a vegetable? Yes and no. When viewed from a botanical perspective, the standard potato, sweet potato and the yam are vegetables, but from a nutritional standpoint, they are categorized as (complex) carbohydrates, not a vegetables.
• It may seem like the potato, the yam and the sweet potato are all slight variations of the same thing. In fact, they are quite different. Botanically the potato is from the family which includes tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. However, the sweet potato is part of the family that contains morning glory, and yams are from the lily family.