Poor fries. This time of year, especially, they really get a bad rap. Everyone is trying to clean up their diets to recover from the holidays or start the new year off right, and poor fries are tossed aside like yesterday’s trash. While I totally get the logic behind laying off the traditional – starchy, white potato, well fried – french fries, the general format is a great way to get an extra serving of veggies on your plate.
If, that is, you swap the white potatoes for carrots and the fryer for the oven.
Yes, carrot fries.
You’ve enjoyed sweet potato fries before, right? Well these aren’t so different. A fellow root vegetable, they have all the right starches to roast up crispy on the outside and doughy on the inside, just like an oven fry should. They’re surprisingly delicious.
What are carrot fries?
Well, admittedly, carrot fries aren’t exactly a known side dish, but you are smart enough to deduce that these are made from carrots that are sliced thin and baked until crispy. You get the vitamin A, antioxidants, and dietary fiber of carrots in a crispy, delicious french fry-like package.
The secret to these fries isn’t so much in the basic prep, but (like most things) in the seasoning and dipping sauce.
The seasoning is simple enough. I toss the raw carrot sticks with olive oil and za’atar, a middle-eastern spice mix made from sumac, thyme, and sesame seeds. The za’atar toasts while the carrots crisp up in the oven.
Where to find Za’atar (or what to use instead)
If you’ve never heard of za’atar, you’re not alone. But you’ll be surprised to hear that it’s not as uncommon as you may think! I find it at my local supermarket, in the spice aisle. You can also find it at middle-eastern specialty stores and, of course, online.
You can also make it from scratch! There are plenty of recipes out there, and it’s very simple to make.
However, if you don’t want to use za’atar, you can simply sprinkle your fries with 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon of fine sea salt and, if you want, about 1/4 teaspoon each of garlic and chili powder (or, again, to taste).
So let’s talk about that sauce.
First of all, the dipping sauce is optional but, I mean, look at it. It’s rich, creamy, vibrant green, and so flavorful.
Despite how intensely creamy the dipping sauce is, it is, unbelievably, nut- and dairy free. The base of the sauce is tahini, which is blended with a zesty mix of garlic, parsley, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. It’s simple, but so, so addictive.
And since it’s green, I’m preeeeeeetty sure you can count this as salad.
The perfect weeknight side dish
If you struggle with getting enough veggies in your, or your family’s, meals, these fast and easy baked carrot fries are the perfect addition to your dinner plan!
Ingredients for the fries
- 1/3 lb carrots
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon za'atar spice blend (see note), divided
- Chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
Ingredients for the dipping sauce
- Preheat oven to 375F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick pad and set aside.
- Peel and cut carrots lengthwise into sticks.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss the carrots and oil, then add 1/4 teaspoon of the za'atar and toss to coat.
- Arrange the carrots in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes, until crispy, then sprinkle with the remaining za'atar and some chopped parsley (optional).
- While the carrot fries are baking, make the dipping sauce by combining all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Add an additional tablespoon of water if necessary to thin out the sauce if you want.
- Serve the carrots while still hot and crispy, alongside the dipping sauce.
- Za'atar is a middle eastern spice mix consisting primarily of sesame seeds, thyme, sumac that is far less exotic, and much easier to find than you'd think, thanks to the internet.
- Flatleaf or curly parsley both work for this recipe.
- Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
- Dipping sauce inspired by Ottolenghi
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 140 Saturated Fat: 1g Sodium: 181mg Carbohydrates: 8g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 1g Protein: 3g