Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Crispy Oven Fries and Roasted Summer Squash

Yep, it's another post about side dishes today! These are good ones, I promise you. The first one I'm going to tell you about is the Double-Baked Oven Fries I made the other night. I found this recipe over on Rachael Ray's website. I remember her making oven fries on her show once that were reportedly "crazy crisp," restaurant-quality french fries. Supposedly, you couldn't even tell they were baked instead of fried! I had to make them for myself to find out if this claim was true.

Even though Rachael Ray is not my favorite celebrity chef by any means, I have to admit that this whole concept is very clever. She uses cooling racks on top of the baking sheets, then spreads the potato slices on the racks. This allows for even heating all over the potato, so it doesn't have a chance to get soggy on the bottom. Then, she double-bakes the fries, at two different oven temperatures, with a brief re-toss in oil and spices in between. The fries do become very crispy, golden, and delicious after cooking them this way. I absolutely loved them; my seasoning of choice was Old Bay this time, but you could use virtually anything you particularly like. The only minor gripe I have with these is that you have to eat them right away, or they do eventually turn soggy. It's no biggie if you're making just enough to serve with no leftovers, though!

It's summer again, so of course that means the summer squash is in abundance around these parts. Sometimes, when I'm trying to figure out what to do with all of it, I become overly ambitious, coming up with ideas that are somewhat elaborate or time-consuming. Often, the easiest preparation is also among the most delicious.

This way of roasting squash just could not be simpler. Just toss sliced squash with some sliced onion, then add oil, salt, and pepper. As with the potatoes, any other spice of your choice could be added. Then you roast the veggies for about 15 minutes at 450 degrees, and you have sweet, juicy, tender summer squash that you barely exerted any effort in producing. Not bad for a lazy summer dinner!

Double-Baked Oven Fries
adapted from
makes about 1 1/2 lbs. fries

1 1/2 lbs. medium Idaho potatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Old Bay seasoning, to taste (any of your favorite spices can be used)
1-1 1/2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with foil, then place an oven-proof cooling rack over the foil on each sheet.

2. If desired, peel the potatoes. Cut each potato into thin fries, lengthwise: the thinner they are, the crispier they will be. Transfer each slice to a large bowl.

3. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, Old Bay seasoning, and olive oil over the potato slices. Toss well to coat all the slices. Transfer each slice to the cooling racks, taking care to leave space between each.

4. Place the fries in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and increase the heat to 425 degrees. Return the fries to the bowl, and toss again. You may add more seasonings at this point.

5. Return the fries to the baking sheets and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until crisp and brown. Serve immediately.

Roasted Summer Squash
recipe by Bri
makes 1 lb. squash

1 lb. yellow summer squash, ends cut off and thinly sliced into circles
1/2 large yellow onion, sliced into strips
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Toss squash and onion pieces in the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Arrange vegetables in a baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until veggies are tender and slightly brown. Serve immediately.

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