It wasn’t until this past weekend that I even gave a second thought to the fact that I rarely serve you side dishes. It’s been a hair over a year and I’ve barely given you a french fry.
So Saturday I found myself staring deep into the freezer case of Whole Foods, half my life savings stacked neatly in the carriage to my left, and there they were: frozen french fries. You’d have thought I was marveling at a modern art installation. There were tater tots, waffle fries, and those of a curly persuasion. White ones, yellow ones, sweet orange ones.
I wanted each and every one of them, sprinkled with two days’ worth of recommended sodium intake, dipped in ketchup, and in my belly.
I do like frozen fries. I like how easy and fast they are. How much they remind me of fish sticks and fries and the Gorton’s fisherman and being eleven. But what I don’t like is paying upwards of $4 for a bag of potatoes cut bluntly into sticks and coated with god-knows-what from heaven-knows-where.
I could make these, I say to myself. Yes I could. I could buy a big russet, or garnet yam, heck I could buy a bulbous butternut squash, peel it, cut it up, bake it, and have a heaping plate’s worth of fresh hot fries for a fraction of the calories of the pre-made kind. I could also organize my cabinets so I wouldn’t buy a new jar of relish every week of my life. Some things are easier said than done.
What did I do with these thoughts? I made fries.
I’d like to say it was an iron will that tore me from those frosty glass doors and back to the produce for a smooth-skinned winter squash, but really, it was the low-grade hypothermia just setting in.
Either way, I’m glad I brought that butternut home and made friends, then fries, with her. They’re such a deliciously different take on traditional crispy white ones. These come out of the oven soft and tender, mashy in the middle with a slight crusty coating. I’d call their slight sogginess a plus, along the same lines as how good those last few fries in a McDonad’s bag are, warm and mushy with oil and salt.
Butternut squash fries are nutty and sweet, and when generously salted, the play of flavors is just lovely. They’re light and wholesome. This is not much of a recipe, given that there are three ingredients and minimal effort involved, but I want you to know how to make healthy fries at home. Feel free to substitute white potatoes or sweet potatoes, both work equally as well!
Baked Butternut Squash Fries
1 2-pound butternut squash
2 tablespoons canola oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Peel and cut the squash into long, thin french fry shapes (roughly 1/4-inch thick). In a large bowl, toss the squash with oil, using your hands to evenly coat each one. Lay them on a wire rack set on top of a baking sheet and salt them generously. Bake for about 40 minutes, flipping halfway for even crispness. Serve immediately with extra salt and ketchup.
Nutrition info for 1/4 of the entire recipe:
Calories: 151.9, Fat: 7.2g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Carb: 23.6g, Fiber: 6.6g, Protein: 2.0g