A recipe for spicy baked sweet potato fries, drizzled with a vegan cilantro-lime cashew sauce. Plus, learn my trick for making ultra crispy sweet potato fries in the oven!
It's sad to think back on all the mediocre food I regularly ate in college, simply because I thought it was healthy. Soggy turkey subs (with lite mayo of course) were low fat, therefore the panacea of health. My dinnertime standard of sugary jarred spaghetti sauce over a pile of white noodles was vegetarian, so, obviously nutritious. I snacked on high fiber granola bars, fat free yogurt, and big bags of baked barbecue chips. And when I went out to dinner, it was always a turkey burger with sweet potato fries instead of regular.
For most people, I'm sure it's fairly obvious sweet potato fries are still fries. But at the time, with my lack of knowledge and disordered relationship with food, I put sweet potato fries in the same category as celery sticks and salad with fat free dressing - kinda gross, but neccessary. For the record, I absolutely do not categorize food anymore, and if I did, definitely wouldn't be eating anything from that category!
But yeah, I was chowing down on sweet potato fries in an attempt to get flat abs, and I didn't even enjoy them. Sigh.
I know sweet potato fries are one of those things most people geek out over, my husband included. It's the whole cinnamon-sugar topping thing that weirds me out. You want dessert after your burger, not next to it!
It wasn't until I tasted spicy sweet potato fries that I got what all the fuss is about. Sweet and spicy? Now that's a flavor combo I can get down with.
If I was forced to make a choice, classic deep-fried, hand cut French fries made from starchy Russets are my top pick. I just love the fry nubbins - the super crispy, mangled little bits of potato that everyone else leaves behind so I get to steal them. But these baked sweet potato fries definitely give them a run for the money, especially when slathered in a creamy, tangy cilantro-cashew cream.
The biggest problem with baked sweet potato fries is that they often turn into a soggy mess. Getting that crispy exterior and creamy interior is tricky, but after some trial and error and a couple batches of seriously charred fries, I finally found the trick - cornstarch! Toss the fries in a little bit of cornstarch before drizzling with olive oil and spices and they'll crisp right up in the oven.
These would be perfect served alongside my spicy tofu burger or beet and quinoa burger. You could also top it with black beans and avocado or vegan chili and serve it with a side salad for a main dish. Or hey, I hear there's this sporting event going on this weekend that you might need some healthy appetizers for ;)
Spicy Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Cilantro-Lime Cashew Dipping Sauce
4 as a main, 8 as an appetizer
- 6 medium sweet potatoes, cut into fries
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Cilantro-Lime Cashew Dipping Sauce:
- 1/2 cup cashews, soaked in water 2 hours
- 1/4 cup water
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/3 cup cilantro, packed
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Green onion
- Preheat oven to 425 degres.
- In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with cornstarch to coat evenly. Drizzle in olive oil and toss evenly to combine.
- Mix spices together in a small bowl. Sprinkle over potatoes and toss together until evenly coated. Spread evenly over 2 large baking sheets, leaving plenty of room between fries. Overcrowding causes them to be soggy. Place in the oven and roast 12-15 minutes. Flip, and change positions of the potatoes in the oven, and continue roasting an additional 10 minutes.
- While the potatoes are baking, add the sauce ingredients to a blender and blend until cashews are completely broken down and the sauce is creamy, about 4-5 minutes.
- Serve sweet potato fries with dipping sauce. Garnish with green onions and cilantro.
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