Looking for a fun side dish that's quick and easy to make, and healthier than regular french fries? These baked pumpkin fries are one of our family favorites.
Last year, I showed you how I love to make baked sweet potato fries at home because my son loves them and gobbles them all up. Really, though, everybody in the family fully enjoys them.
This year I decided that I would try a few other fry varieties. I've recently discovered that I love parsnips and turnips after making myself try some new root veggies again later in life. So far I love them in soup, but I think that both would make great candidates for potato fry alternatives. Seeing as I had a couple of pumpkins in my fridge for Halloween pumpkin recipe elaboration, I started by making pumpkin fries first.
The result was love at first bite!
Pumpkin fries are really fun for this time of year now that Halloween and Thanksgiving are on the way. These fries could be easily decorated to look like mini jack-o-lanterns for Halloween, but refined enough to serve as a Thanksgiving side dish.
What's also great about them is that they can be easily customized to suit your taste. Want something spicy? Add a sprinkle of cayenne! Want a sweet dessert variety? Use a neutral flavored oil and sprinkle with sugar and pumpkin spice. Heck, they'd probably be great dipped in my pumpkin spice dip!
I loved them so much that I have made them several times by now and have used several different methods. By now I can tell you that the pumpkins you use makes a huge difference in your final dish. If you have a softer pumpkin, for example, the fries will hold up better if you actually deep fry them in an oil rather than try to bake them.
Here in Spain you can't find canned pumpkin- something I wouldn't use anymore anyway since it's so easy to make your own pumpkin puree. What is available, though, is vacuum sealed peeled and seeded pumpkin cut into sections for quick and easy vegetable soups. One day I decided to try buying a package out of curiosity and sliced up the pumpkin pieces for making pumpkin fries. Baked in the oven they became limp, and I ended up salvaging them by deep frying them.
Since then, I have tried making these pumpkin fries with both fresh butternut squash and a local round green pumpkin variety, and both have worked quite well for making baked fries. While the process is the same as with making sweet potato fries, I actually think that these are easier and quicker to make. Perhaps they brown a little quicker for me.
Let's make some baked pumpkin fries!
Paleo Pumpkin Fries
Preheat your oven broiler to high heat.
Prepare a baking sheet by adding either a sheet of parchment paper or a silicone matt or by just lightly greasing it to keep the pumpkin fries from sticking to the pan.
Peel and slice the pumpkin or butternut squash into slices that are around 1cm thick. Be careful when peeling the pumpkin as it can be hard to cut. You can either use a vegetable peeler or cut the pumpkin in half to get a solid base, and then with the cut side down on a cutting board, to keep the pumpkin stable, take a sharp knife and cut the peel off from top to bottom.
Cut the pumpkin slices into strips around 1cm thick.
Add the olive oil to a bowl with the strips of raw pumpkin. Combine them well until the pumpkin strips are completely covered with olive oil.
Place the pumpkin strips on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer, keeping a small space between them if possible. Lightly season them with salt, pepper, and/or any other sugar or spice combinations of your choice.
Put the pan in the oven on the top near the broiler and broil at high heat until the pumpkin strips start to brown and get crispy edges.
Remove the pan from the oven and flip the pumpkin strips over and broil on the other side until crispy.
If you find that the pumpkin you are using is starting to burn but still is hard on the inside, bring the pan down a little ways and lower the heat. Continue to bake until the fries have reached the desired consistency. (Using butternut squash, I have never had this happen. I like to keep the oven time to a minimum to keep the fries from getting too soft.)
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with more salt, pepper, and any other herbs and spices that appeal to you, if needed.
This post is also available in Español.