Garlic Parmesan Sweet Potato Fries with Pesto Mayo by Chelsea Zwieg

Now that you've got your burger from Monday, it's time for some fries, right? Sweet potato fries are one of my very favorite things in the world. If they are on a menu, I will be ordering them. Additional charges, be damned. And why is it that they always cost more? Is it because sweet potatoes are really more expensive? Or is it because the menu making head honchos know that sweet potato suckers like me will shell out that extra dollar every single time. Well, jokes on you kids, because I can make my own. 

Way, way back in the day, when The Whole Bite was just a baby of a blog, I posted my method for making truly crispy oven baked sweet potato fries. I would link back to that, but blog posts from 2 years ago are maybe not my best work. So I'll just hit you with some french fry making tips all over again. 

There are 3 keys to crispy sweet potato fries (or any oven fries): Cut. Soak. Starch. 

First, the cutting. The fries need to be thin and uniform. If they are thicker than 1/4" they will never get crispy. And if you have some really fat ones and some little nubs, they will cook unevenly which means you will have half burnt and half mushy. And maybe two crispy ones, to be fair. I like to cut a bit off the side of a potato so that it stands without wobbling, and then slice the potato lengthwise at about 1'4". This will leave you with several long 'boards' that are the length and height of the potato but the width of a fry. I then lay those flat and cut them into thin matchsticks. It might take a little bit of time, but trust me: it's so worth it. 

Next, the soak. Once you have your even, uniform, beautiful little matchsticks, submerge them in a bowl of cold water and let them sit for at least an hour. This pulls out the excess starch and sugars that will keep the potatoes form crisping.

Finally, the starch. Once the fries are drained and dried, they get a very light coating of cornstarch. This will help the outside crisp faster while keeping the inside tender. 

From there you can take it anywhere you want it with seasoning, spices and dips. Like tossed with garlic, parmesan and pesto mayo. Yes, take it there. 


Garlic Parmesan Sweet Potato Fries with Pesto Mayo

Serves 4 

| Ingredients

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. oil (see note above) 
  • 2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. garlic (more or less depending on your garlic love) 
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp. parsley, finely chopped (optional) 

Pesto Mayo: 

  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1 tbsp. homemade or store bought pesto

| Instructions

  • Peel potatoes and cut into matchsticks, no thicker than 1/4 inch. Submerge potatoes in a bowl of cold water and let sit for at least 1 hour
  • Preheat oven to 425. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray 
  •  Drain potatoes and dry with a paper towel. Place potatoes in a large ziploc bag and add cornstarch. Leave the bag full of air, seal and shake so that the potatoes get a thin, even coating of cornstarch. Depending on the size of your potatoes you may not need the full tbsp. I add the cornstarch in small amounts until the potatoes are just dusted. They should not be white, just a light coating that you need to look closely to see.
  • Add the oil to the bag and shake again, until fries are evenly coated. Again, add this in small amounts to account for difference in potato size. They should not be drenched, just a light coat of oil. Add the black pepper and shake again.
  • Pour fries onto prepared baking sheets and spread into an even later. Make sure that no fries are overlapping or touching each other. The more space they have, the better they crisp.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, remove pans from oven and flip fries with a spatula. Switch the pans so that the one that was on the bottom rack is now on the top. Bake for 15 more minutes. At this point, flip the fries again and bake in 5 minute increments until they are crispy as you would like. Some batches have only needed 5 more minutes and some have needed 15, depending on the potatoes I used. 
  • Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. To make the pesto mayo, mix the two ingredients until combined. Add salt and pepper, to taste. 
  • Place fries in a large bowl and add the olive oil. Toss to coat. Add the garlic, salt and parmesan and toss until the fries are coated. Transfer to a serving plate and top with parsley, if desired and extra parmesan cheese. If any garlic or cheese is left in the bottom of the bowl, sprinkle that on as well. 

Caprese Stuffed Veggie Burgers by Chelsea Zwieg

Ok, let's talk about burgers. Specifically burgers that are stuffed with creamy, melty cheese that oozes from the center when you eat it kind of like a giant, burger mozzarella stick. Because is there anything better than that? I think not. 

It turns out that burgers, even veggie ones, are kind of ideal for stuffing. Since they are sturdy enough to shape into a patty, the logical next step seemed to be making a well in that patty, filling it with cheese and sealing the top up with a little bit more burger. As the burger cooks, the cheese melts and what you are left with is true perfection on a bun. 

I decided to make these stuffed burgers caprese inspired because if there ever was a time to eat tomatoes it is this very moment of summer. The burgers are a variation of my favorite veggie burger recipe, which I posted here, but I subbed in lentils for the sweet potato and mixed in some pesto. They are stuffed with a slice of fresh mozz, topped with slow roasted, garlicky tomatoes and topped with some more pesto. Absolutely insane. In the best, garlicky, cheesy, way possible. 

Just a few tips. Letting the burger mixture cool completely before shaping the patties will save you from a whole world of pain. If it seems to stick to your fingers even after it cooled, you may need more binder. Just mix in a few more spoonfuls of lentils until it is shapeable, and you are good to go. Also, if veggie burgers are not your thing, this cheese filled, tomato topped situation can also happen on a meaty burger. Mix a a tbsp. of pesto into the burger meat, stuff that bad boy with some cheese and continue on with the recipe. Lastly, I am all about the garlic in these burgers, in the tomatoes, in the pesto. Kind of my ideal situation. That being said, if you plan to interact with humans shortly after this or have some sort of hot kissing date later in the evening, you can cut the garlic or pesto out of one or more places and it will still be delicious. Just not as delicious. You know? 

And of course, burgers always, always, always need fries. The sweet potato fries creeping in on these photos are coming to you later this week. Spoiler alert: they have garlic. Are you even a little surprised? 

Caprese Stuffed Veggie Burgers

Makes 4 burgers

Note: These burgers use a mixture of cooked quinoa and lentils. The fastest way is to just cook them all in the same pot. I like to cook a bit of extra lentils. In case the burgers are not sticking together, adding more will help them bind.

| Ingredients | 

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 zucchini
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup cooked lentils
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tbsp. pesto
  • 4 thick slices fresh mozzarella
  • 4 buns, split and toasted

| Instructions | 

  • Preheat oven to 425. Arrange tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and add 1 clove minced garlic. Toss to combine. Roast tomatoes 20-25 minutes until they release their juices and begin to shrivel. 
  • Pulse the mushrooms in a food processor until finely ground. Switch to the grating attachment and shred the zucchini (you can also use a box grater). Use a kitchen towel or paper towel to wring any excess moisture from the mushroom and zucchini. 
  • Heat a tbsp. of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and remaining garlic and cook until the shallot is soft and slightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the zucchini and mushrooms and cook for 2 more minutes. 
  • Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the quinoa and lentils. Let cool.
  • Once cooled, stir in the breadcrumbs, lime juice and pesto. Squeeze a clump in your hand. If it does not hold it's shape stir in a spoonful or two more lentils. 
  • Divide the patty mixture in half. Form half into 4 small patties, and make a well in the center. Place a slice of cheese in each. Top each with the remaining mixture and shape into a patty,  pressing at the sides to make sure there are not holes. 
  • Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium-heat. Add two of the burgers and cook, flipping once, until brown and crispy on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining burgers.
  • To serve, place each burger on a bun and top with the roasted tomatoes and a dollop of pesto. If you like a more saucy burger, you can make a quick pesto mayo using 1 tbsp. pesto per 1/4 cup mayo. If the burgers are not going straight from pan to plate, reheat them before serving to get that whole gooey cheese situation going on.