Sweet potatoes are full of vitamins and don't lack for flavor either. With a bit of attention to cutting them evenly, they bake up in the oven with a crispy brown exterior, fluffy sweet interior, and enough flavor to dress up the simplest of weeknight suppers. I like to serve them alongside various burgers for a healthful take on "fries" that no one ever complains about.
While this recipe calls for just a single large sweet potato, it can be easily doubled or tripled or more—the key is cutting the potatoes evenly and arranging them on baking sheets in single layers, ideally with space around each "fry" so the hot air can circulate around each one and bring as much flavorful browning power as possible to each one. Use large sheets or multiple sheets for large batches.
- 1 large sweet potato (often sold as "yams" at grocery stores), as uniformly shaped as you can find
- 1 teaspoon vegetable or grapeseed oil
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
- Sea salt to taste
- Preheat an oven to 425°F. Peel the sweet potato and cut off the tapered ends (you can reserve this part for another use if you like) so the entire vegetable is about the same width around.
- Cut the sweet potato in half lengthwise. Cut each half lengthwise into 1/8- to 1/4-inch slabs. The more evenly you can cut things, the better. Stack each half of the slabs and cut them lengthwise into 1/8- to 1/4-inch strips. Cut these "fries" as evenly as possible and cut off any noticeably tapered ends, since skinny bits will burn quite easily in the oven.
- Put the "fries" in a large bowl. Drizzle with the oil and toss thoroughly to coat the "fries" with the oil. Sprinkle with the cayenne, if you like a bit of spice, and salt. Toss to coat the "fries" as evenly as possible.
- Lay the "fries" on a large baking sheet. They can be quite close together, because they will shrink as they cook, but they should be in a single layer, if at all possible.
- Bake until the "fries" are tender and starting to brown on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Use a spatula to turn and rotate the "fries." Return them to the oven, increase the temperature to 450°F and continue to bake, turning the "fries" every few minutes to help them cook and brown evenly, until they are well browned, about 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle with more salt, if you like.
These are best served pretty much hot out of the oven, but if you want to make them ahead, just pull them out a bit early and reheat in a hot oven for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.