Curly fries hold a special place in my heart. They bring back memories of long 24-hour car rides with my family from Ohio to Florida for summer vacations. The vacations were fun, but the drives themselves were particularly memorable.
On these road trips, one of my three little brothers would always get sick. Always. Every year like clockwork we would have to pull over at some point in our tedious journey so that one of them could quietly do their thing on the side of the road. Meanwhile, I’d be sitting in the back seat of the minivan, snacking on crispy, savory curly fries from a certain fast food chain, getting grease all over the pages of my Harry Potter book. And I was pretty damn happy.
“Wow, that’s kind of gross,” you say. Yes, this is true. The car kind of smelled like grease and sick children, and I certainly felt bad for my brothers. But I had curly fries that I could eat without feeling like I had done something terrible to my body (mostly because I didn’t think about those things at that age). I had a good book that I could read without feeling obligated to take a driving shift (mostly because I was between the ages of 8 and 12, didn’t know how, and legally couldn’t). Those were the days.
There’s not really a moral to this story. But really, do we need a moral when curly fries are involved?
I’ve been wanting to create my own lightened version of these starchy calorie-bombs for quite awhile now, but wasn’t sure how. Then I remembered by best friend, the spiralizer. I spiralized sweet potatoes, cut them into fry-sized strands, and tossed them with olive oil and cheese. And while deep-frying does create a very specific flavor and texture in curly fries, I wasn’t about to go down that path after eating all the funfetti cake. I decided to take the “virtuous” route and bake the fries until crispy and slightly browned in some places, top them with more Parmigiano and herbs, and pair them with a tangy homemade honey mustard sauce.
The results were truly heart eyes emoji–inducing. While the thinness of the spiralized strands means that the fries themselves are delicate (perhaps best eaten with a fork, with the sauce poured over them—probably not while seated in a minivan), their flavor and texture is on point. They would make a great side dish for dinner, or an amazing breakfast with a fried egg plopped on top. You could go wild and put them on a burger. Or you could just eat them on their own while leaving grease stains all over the pages of your favorite Harry Potter book. I think you already know which option I went for.
- 2 sweet potatoes, spiralized, strands cut to desired length
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 4 Tbsp. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for topping
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Fresh parsley and basil, chopped, for topping
- 3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- 1 Tbsp. plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 400° F. In a large bowl, combine the spiralized sweet potatoes, olive oil, cheese, salt, and pepper; toss to coat. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and evenly distribute the sweet potato fries between the trays in a single layer (if they are too crowded, they will steam instead of getting crispy). Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the fries are crispy and browned in places.
- Meanwhile, make the honey mustard sauce. In a small bowl, combine the Dijon, honey, yogurt, and lemon juice and whisk together.
- Transfer the fries to a serving tray and top with parsley, basil, and more cheese. Serve with the honey mustard sauce.