Crispy Sweet Potato Fries and Roasted Broccoli with Almonds

It’s a lifelong (okay adulthood anyway) quest that’s taken me to many a restaurant in search of the most delicious of crispy sweet potato fries. Easily achieved, albeit less heart healthy, when dipped in vats of boiling hot vegetable oil. It was with this realization that I let myself become defeated and settled on always having a slightly soggy at-home version of my favourite burger side dish.

Well no more my loyal readers!

I have finally devised a way to make these flavourful, vitamin packed delights remain that way and still come out crispy and tasty. It’s taken a few years of experimenting and a lot of taste testing, though all that hard work was definitely worth it. Please, spare the accolades, I am simply a humble cook. Remember to mention me though when your family is swooning over their favourite “guilty” side dish, unaware that they are truly fat free and healthy. *Insert evil cackle here*

Today’s recipes are also a completely vegetarian meal, although there is a somewhat gaping hole where protein would normally be save for a small addition of almonds. The crisy, delicious Sweet Potato Fries are served alongside a dish my mother often made when I was a child. Tender crowns of broccoli were pan roasted with garlic and sliced almonds until tender crisp and then quickly sprinkled with finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano and served immediately. Always a favourite, I decided to figure out the recipe for myself. My parents are currently on their 6 month annual sojourn in Mexico at the moment and are nearly impossible to contact on the fly, so I had to make due with a slightly foggy memory, though I think I got it pretty much perfect.

Served alongside a small serving of fish or chicken, this would be a perfectly balanced meal!

Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries

3-4 small sweet potatoes (orange flesh)
2 egg whites
2-3 Tbsp all purpose flour
1-2 Tbsp of spices (Any combination of curry, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, seasoning salt, etc.)

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a large (or two smaller ones) oven safe cooling rack with baking spray and set on top of a baking tray.
2. Cut washed, unpeeled sweet potatoes into fries about 3/4 cm x 3/4 cm or slightly larger than shoestring size.
3. Soak in a large bowl of cold water for 10-20 minutes. Remove to kitchen towels and pat dry or allow to air dry and then pat dry to make sure there is very little moisture left.
4. In large deep bowl, whisk egg whites until very frothy, almost to soft peaks. Toss cut, dried fries into egg whites until fully coated. Add flour one tablespoon at a time to coat and then spices. Be sure to fully coat and distribute. You will have very coated fries at this point, which is fine. A thick coating means crispy fries!
5. Lay on greased rack in one layer, do not allow fries to touch or become crowded. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until lightly browned on ends and crispy. Begin checking fries after 30 minutes and continue to check every couple of minutes or so to ensure they do not burn.
6. Serve with side of Curried Aïoli (recipe follows).

Curried Aïoli

1 clove garlic
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp curry powder
2 Tbsp buttermilk

1. Roughly chop garlic and place in mortar. Grind garlic, unsing the pestle, until it becomes a paste.
2. Add in mayonnaise, curry and buttermilk (to thin out consistency).
3. Set aside until needed.

Pan Roasted Broccoli with Almonds

1 large head broccoli (or three smaller heads), stalks peeled and diced, florets chopped
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 clove garlic, grated or minced
1/3 cup sliced almonds
salt and pepper
1/3-1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oil on medium high in heavy bottomed pan (cast iron works great here). Add almonds and allow to brown slightly.
2. Add in broccoli and garlic and stir for 2-3 minutes.
3. Add in 1/4 cup of water and place lid on pan. Cook for about 5 minutes and then remove lid and allow water to cook off. Continue to sauté until broccoli is becoming tender but still crisp and beginning to brown slightly on edges.
4. Add in Parmesan just before removing from heat, allowing it to brown slightly.
5. Serve immediately.

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