February 2: Root Vegetable Fries

Looking for simple, tasty and local snacks for this weekend’s gatherings? French fries are surprisingly easy to make from scratch, and versatile.  For the old standby: cut local potatoes into strips, toss with oil and salt, and bake in a hot oven until crispy brown on the outside and soft on the inside.  Add paprika for mild fries, and chili or garlic for spice.  Don’t stop at potatoes: try rutabagas, parsnips, sweet potatoes, celeriac and butternut squash.  Serve a fry medley to enjoy the full complement of sweet winter flavors.

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Recipes and Cooking Tips

Here are a couple of simple fry recipes: Root Vegetable Fries from Whole Foods and Parsnip Fries from Red Fire Farm.

Different roots have different sugar and water content – both of which affect cooking time and ideal temperature.  As a general rule of thumb, roots that are less sweet (potatoes, celeriac, rutabagas) can handle a higher cooking temperature (425+ degrees F) without burning, whereas sweet winter carrots, squash, sweet potatoes and parsnips are more prone to burning, and a lower temperature can be easier to manage (375-400 degrees F).  Generous use of oil leads to crispier (and arguably tastier!) fries that are less likely to stick to the pan and burn – less oil requires more careful monitoring.  Flipping the fries once or twice during cooking (every 10-20 minutes) will allow them to cook more evenly.

Dipping options are endless. For a quick, basic dip, puree a cup of mayonnaise or yogurt with dill, garlic, and generous squirt of mustard, and a touch of maple syrup or honey to taste.  Red Fire Farm offers two other tasty seasonal dip recipes: Curried Carrot Dip and Yogurt Raita with Shallots.