We think everyone likes–-no, maybe loves, French fries. But we all pretty much try not to indulge—they are after all, salty, deep-fat-fried potatoes. Although we do love what our brother/son Michael says about them, “I love French fries, but how often are you going to cook them? It’s too hard and messy. So there’s something in the very nature of home cooking that keeps us from getting into trouble.”
So true, but here’s an even better solution—our French fry “cheat”, our Maple-Balsamic Root Vegetable “Fries” recipe. Root vegetables are so nutritionally dense, very affordable, and available year round–– for most, the peak season is fall through spring, so they are a great winter ingredient.
What’s great about this recipe is that you can really substitute any root vegetables that you like, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, turnips, red beets, yams… The slight sweetness from the maple syrup, the tanginess of the balsamic vinegar, the salt and thyme, give these “fries” such delicious flavor.
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into ¼-inch-thick sticks, 2 to 3 inches long
2 medium golden beets, peeled, each cut into 8 wedges
5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 425ºF. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.In a large mixing bowl, combine the carrots, celery root, parsnips, beets, and thyme sprigs. Add the oil and mix to thoroughly coat the vegetables.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the maple syrup, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper; mix well. Pour the mixture on the vegetables and toss to coat.
Arrange the vegetables in single layers on the two baking sheets. Roast on separate racks for 20 minutes.
Remove them from the oven and, using a spatula, flip the vegetables. Return the sheets to the oven, switching their positions (upper rack and lower rack). Roast until the vegetables are light brown and caramelized, an additional
15 to 20 minutes.
Discard the thyme sprigs, season with salt and pepper, and serve.