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I’ll admit it: I’m high on fall.
I’ve been sipping hot apple cider all week, and snuggling under fluffy blankets with the windows open at night.
How about you? Are you reveling in the change of seasons where you are? Are the leaves beginning to turn brilliant hues of crimson and scarlet and gold?
If you live anywhere like Chicagoland, you’ve probably started to see a lot of gourds and winter squash in grocery bins, on tables, and at the farmers market. I think they’re so pretty, with their autumnal color palette that serves as a reminder of the harvest.
It’s enough to make me want a pumpkin patch of my own (along with an herb garden, green pepper plants, more tomatoes…).
If you like sweet potatoes and you like french fries, it’s time to sit up and pay attention. Here’s what you can do with one of those pretty butternut squash when you find it:
It’s time to make fries. Butternut Squash Fries.
Golden, baked, and utterly delicious, the recipe for these could not be simpler, and the calorie intake won’t give you the slightest guilt.
They’re sweet, full of healthy fiber, and perfectly crisp. Plus, just look at the color!
Essentially, this is what you do:
Buy a medium-sized squash, chop off its ends, peel it, halve it, and scoop out the insides. Then slice the flesh into long strips, just like french fries.
Arrange on a baking sheet covered in cooking spray, sprinkle with salt, and bake. That’s it.
Well, I say, “That’s it,” like you’ll barely believe how easy it is. I have to be a little more honest here.
In truth, peeling a squash can be a little tricky. Or least peeling my squash was. The skin is thick! And tough!
My peeler is antiquated, and I’m not the most adept at using it. If you’re in the same boat and it’s time for a new one, you can find suggestions for some of our favorite models here.
Whatever the case, you’ll feel a sense of victory after peeling this thing, and that’s something. I think everything tastes better when you need to work at getting it on the table, just a little bit.
I should also say this: though quite tasty (incredibly delicious, in fact!) these are not quite the deep-fried fingers you may be used to. To obtain maximum flavor, you’ll want them to get very crispy, so watch them while they are in the oven, and pull out any small ones a little early if you need to.
And you’ll want to eat these right away, so don’t bring them over to someone’s house to enjoy them later (like I did…). Hot and fresh out of the oven is the way to go!
I did, however, hear from at least one reliable 12-year-old boy, and a high school sophomore, that these were delicious. So that’s something, too.
Now, I’ll have to leave you with these for a bit. Definitely take the opportunity to make these this season if you get a chance. As a snack, healthy side, or appetizer, enjoyed with friends and family around the table or in the front of the TV, they’re supremely satisfying with any types of dip that you want to dunk them into. I know I’ll be making them again as soon as I can.
With all of the flavors of fall in full force, I am headed north to even cooler weather and more vibrant colors. I’m going to visit a beautiful, dark-haired little girl who’s not yet one month old, her handsome brother who says adorable things like, “Hi Shanna,” on the phone now when I call, and their lovely parents, two of the nicest people I know.
This recipe was adapted from Hungry Girl.
Fall is good, life is good, and I hope I’ll see you again soon.Print
Satisfy your junk food craving with a healthier option: baked butternut squash fries, paired with your favorite dipping sauce.
- Preheat oven to 425˚F. Grease a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.
- Chop the ends off your butternut squash and peel it. Cut it in half and scoop out all the seeds; discard or save for roasting.
- Cut the flesh into wedges or sticks, whatever looks like french fries to you. Add the fries and oil to a large bowl, tossing to coat evenly. Place on the greased cookie sheet in a single, even layer, and sprinkle evenly with coarse sea salt.
- Bake for 40 minutes, flipping halfway through the baking process. The fries are done when they are browned on the edges and crispy.
- Serve with ketchup, or whatever dipping sauce you typically enjoy with potato or sweet potato fries.
Keywords: butternut squash, oven fries, squash, healthy, fall
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Preheat Oven and Prep Squash
Preheat oven to 425˚F. Lightly spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking oil spray.
Cut the ends off the squash, and remove the peel carefully.
Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.
Cut the flesh into wedges or thick sticks, approximately 1/2 by 4 inches. I like to cut my squash into quarters and then cut them into pieces that are 1/2 inch wide. Then you can easily cut them into 4-inch sticks.
Some of the fries at the base of the squash where it is thinner may be a bit shorter, but that’s okay.
I would recommend skipping the mandoline for this dish, as I’ve found thinly cut fries don’t bake up as crisply on the outside for this recipe.
Step 2 – Season
Add your fries to a large bowl with the vegetable oil.
If you prefer a touch of sweetness, you can use coconut oil instead. Be sure to melt the coconut oil in a small microwave-safe bowl in the microwave in 15-second bursts on half power until melted.
Toss to coat evenly. Spread the squash in an even layer on the baking sheet. Season with salt.
Step 3 – Bake
Bake the fries for 40 minutes, making sure to flip once halfway through. The fries should be browned on the edges and crispy when you remove them. A conventional oven works ok but a countertop convection toaster oven is a great alternative – especially one that has an air fryer option such as the Breville Smart Oven Air.
Keep an eye on your oven. If you have a window that you can see through and an oven light, great – you can be on the lookout without having to release any heat. If you notice any smaller, particularly dark pieces, grab your tons and remove them quickly to a serving platter before they burn.
Otherwise, pop the door open quickly during the last 10 minutes of cooking and pull out any pieces that are approaching the burnt end of the crispness spectrum.
What Sauce Should You Serve These Fries With?
Sometimes, you just want something other than ketchup to dip those fries in.
As much as I love the combination of squash and ketchup, there are so many other delicious sauces that you can experiment with. Here are some of my favorites:
- I am obsessed with this Alabama-Style White Barbecue Sauce and once you try it, you will see why. The tanginess of the sauce paired with these fries is a sweet and savory match made in heaven.
- If you want a vegan alternative to dip these into, check out our Vegan Cilantro and Cayenne Tahini Sauce. Cilantro and cayenne make a great combination that’s a bit herbal and spicy, playing nicely off of the sweetness of the squash. If you have had this vegetable in taco form before, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
- For a herbaceous combination, this Italian Pesto Sauce is definitely the way to go. The authentic flavors in the sauce really pop in every bite, and the fresh and umami-rich herbs and cheese pair naturally with the sweetness of the squash.
For another tasty appetizer or side that’s fun to eat, big on flavor, and a bit more nutritious than the traditional options, these Oven-Baked Green Bean Fries are not to be missed!
Which sauce would you try first with these lightened up fries? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to come back to rate the recipe once you try it.
And if you’re looking for more butternut squash recipes, be sure to try some of these out:
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on October 3, 2008. Last updated: November 18, 2018 at 13:18 pm. With additional writing and editing by Meghan Yager and Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.