Remember eating Potato Stix, those crunchy things that sort of resembled french fries but rattled around in a vacuum sealed can? My grandmother always kept a container tucked away in her arsenal of pantry snacks for when my sisters and I visited. I clearly remember, as a kid, the feeling of triumph to peel back and pop open the aluminium lid, afterwards camping out in front of the television while crunching away. Dehydrated potatoes sure were the best.
But now, being older and wiser and much more conscious of what I’m putting into my body, I no longer hail to the dehydrated potato and instead, relish real, unadulterated foods. I’ve been on a bit of a sweet potato/yam kick lately since, as a part of my gym’s Fitness Challenge, I am making the valiant attempt to delete refined sugars and processed carbohydrates from my diet. With the abundance of fresh produce available in Spain (fresh, non-refrigerated eggs!), it’s been quite easy to be good.
However, back to the potato sticks. The sweet potato has become a staple for me. It takes care of any forthcoming sugar cravings, and serves as a great natural and nutritional (go beta-carotene!) carbohydrate source. Yet, I wanted to try something a bit different, rather than make my go-to cubed then baked sweet potatoes. So instead of cutting the potatoes into square sized bites, I julienned the potatoes into one-and-a-half inch skinny matchsticks, hoping that the potatoes would crisp up in the oven just like my favorite childhood snack.
Baked Sweet Potato Stix (2-3 side servings)
1 large sweet potato, julienned to 1.5 inch matchsticks
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large pinches salt
2 large pinches pepper
After cutting the sweet potato, place onto a foil lined baking sheet or into a foil lined dish. Add olive oil and seasoning, toss, and spread into a single layer. Use enough olive oil to provide a thin, even coat over the potatoes. Bake at 180 degrees C (~350 degrees F) for ~30 minutes (or until crisp), mixing once in between to ensure that the potatoes do not stick to the foil. As the sweet potatoes burn very easily, keep an eye out. The potato I had on hand was quite large so I ended up using two baking dishes, dividing the potatoes between in order to get a nice single layer in each. I also made use of both racks in my tiny oven. For some extra seasoning, I sprinkled a bit of Sal d’ Herbes, a blend of Mallorcan sea salt and spices (finely ground thyme, parsley, oregano, rosemary, lavender, estragon, laurel, etc). Seasoning, of course, can be varied – cumin, curry powder, pimenton, sea salt blends, etc.
With the given cook time, the potatoes were slightly crispy, right on the cusp of being burned. The potatoes can be cut in different ways but cooked using the same method to vary the results. Cutting it into cube sizes bites, rather than a julienne, yields more of a hash; cutting thicker wedges makes nice country french fries. But for now, I prefer the “stix.”
I fried two eggs; topped it with my potato sticks; and brightened everything by adding some beautiful chopped parsley fresh from a friend’s garden.
And just like when I was a kid, I planted myself on the couch, turned on the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy, and crunched away.