~ Mmmmmmm … Pizza Fries … without the guilt! These baked french fries are so easy to make, and always a total hit! They’re loaded with awesome, cheesy pizza flavor! Bonus: because they’re baked (and you’re gonna pile ’em high with lots of veggies), they’re healthy, too! ~
This Recipe Is (depending on your choice of optional toppings): • Vegetarian • Gluten Free •
You probably don’t envision me spending much time hanging out in mall food courts. Just doesn’t quite jive with the whole “Two Healthy Kitchens” thing, does it?
But, you know what’s located at the heart of every food court everywhere? Yup … restrooms!
And so, after a marathon shopping expedition with my kids last year, I was a woman on a mission. Racing across the food court … you know … every.step.counts …
But suddenly … I skidded to a halt.
What is this sign? You are in my way, but you are beautiful. I think you are my next obsession …
You are Pizza Fries!
I think my heart skipped a beat. I’d like to say it was because I was falling madly in love, but I’m pretty sure my arteries were slamming shut from simply looking at the fried potatoes, globbed with full-fat pepperoni and cheese, the grease practically clogging my veins just because I was standing too close to the cardboard sign.
But I saw through all that. I saw the potential. Mmmmm … possibilities.
I raced onward through the food court (you know … on a mission …), but I didn’t forget that moment. I knew I
wanted needed Pizza Fries in my life! I was determined to find a way to recreate them … healthier but still jaw-droppingly drool-worthy …
Nutritional Mods for Healthier Pizza Fries
Roast ’em, Don’t Fry ’em – The first thing I had to do was just ditch the frying. Obvious, right?!? And totally easy! Roasting potatoes at a high heat in the oven produces a wonderful, crispy, golden-brown exterior and a fluffy interior. So much great flavor and texture without the frying!
Load ’em Up (the Right Way) – These Pizza Fries get a big wallop of flavor from antioxidant-rich spices. Yum! Tasty little antioxidants! And, dipping your fries in pizza sauce offers up even more layers of awesome pizza-y flavor, plus great lycopene from the cooked tomatoes.
Plus … mmmmmmmm … all those pretty veggies! One of the best ways to healthify practically anything is to start by looking for ways to add in more veggies. With these loaded, uber-deluxe Pizza Fries, that’s a cinch! Colorful peppers and onions are fantastic additions, and you can add anything else you like, too – think mushrooms, tomatoes and olives. And sure, you can add some pepperoni or sausage if you’d like. Just be sure you go with reduced-fat options like turkey pepperoni, and try to focus more on the veggies than the meats!
How to Be a Potato Rock Star
Making the Cut – It’s really up to you how you’d like to cut your potatoes – have ’em your way, for sure! But if you start with jumbo (restaurant-sized) russets, or want to try thin shoestrings or round wafer fries … all of those things will affect your baking time slightly, so just keep an eye on your potatoes while they’re in the oven. For this recipe, we used standard-sized (not restaurant “jumbo”) russets, and cut each into 12 fries that were thin enough to offer lots of golden, crispy exterior, but thick enough (kind of like steak fries) to have satisfyingly fluffy insides, too. Here’s how we cut our potatoes:
Potato Equality – What’s most important when cutting your potatoes is ensuring that – whatever size and shape you decide on – you make all your potato pieces as similar in size and shape to each other as possible, so they all bake evenly in the oven.
Potatoes Like Their Space! – You know why potatoes are grown on big, spacious farms? Because they definitely like their real estate, especially when it comes to oven-baked taters! Another big key to Pizza Fry success (or success in roasting any veggie) is spreading your veggies out on the baking sheet. Our big 14×17″ baking sheet is at maximum capacity with about 1 1/2 pounds of potatoes, but you can see that there’s still just a little space between each french fry. That’s critical for good roasting.
If veggies are piled on top of each other or closely touching, they tend to steam more than roast, and you’ll miss out on that crispy-crunchy-golden exterior we’re going for here. If you feel like your baking sheet is too crowded or you want to make a double batch, just use two baking sheets instead of thinking you’ll be ok cruising by with only one.
Because really … would you want to skimp on this to save yourself digging out a second baking sheet:
Nope! I didn’t think so! 😀 See those crispy-golden edges? Real estate, friends. Potato real estate.
So there you have it. My mission to have pizza fries in my life (and my belly!) is now complete. And with the momentous, star-studded, commercial-laden, appetizers-needed occasion of Super Bowl 50 just days away … well, I thought this was the perfect time to share these with you!
Because trust me … you
want need these in your life, too!
But let’s be honest for a moment. This isn’t really about the Super Bowl (just like the Super Bowls’ only kinda-sorta about the football game itself). You’ll want these fries in your life long, long beyond game day, friends.
And hey – you don’t even have to make an artery-clogging trip to the mall food court to find them!
More Oven-Baked, Loaded Up Snacks for Super Bowl Sunday (or ANY day) …
- 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup shredded, reduced-fat Italian cheese blend
- Your favorite pizza sauce, warmed, for dipping
Finely chopped pizza toppings of your choice (remember – pile on lots of great veggies!) (see note). Here are some ideas
- green, red and yellow peppers
- banana or jalapeño peppers
- black or green olives
- turkey pepperoni or cooked and crumbled Italian turkey sausage
- Preheat oven to 475ºF.
- Cut each potato into 12 long, thin slices by first cutting each potato in half lengthwise, and then cutting each half lengthwise again to yield four quarters. Cut each quarter into three slices.
- In a medium bowl, toss potatoes with olive oil to thoroughly coat, and then add oregano, basil, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper, tossing again to distribute spices evenly.
- Place potatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spreading them out and making sure they don't touch or overlap (see note).
- Bake potatoes for about 10-12 minutes, then stir and spread them out again. Bake for about 8-12 minutes more. The exact baking times may vary depending on how your potatoes are shaped and how thick the slices are. Check them periodically: you're looking for a warm, browned, toasty bit of color on both sides of your fries, and a roasted exterior with a fluffy interior. You want a good roasted color but you don't want them to burn.
- Push your fries into a pile in the center of the baking sheet, layering them as you do so with cheese and your other toppings. Return the fries to the oven for about 5 more minutes, to allow the toppings to warm and the cheese to melt.
- Serve with pizza sauce for dipping.
Toppings: The combination of toppings we used in the photos throughout this post includes (all finely chopped): ⅓ cup turkey pepperoni, ¼ cup green pepper, ¼ cup red pepper and 3 tablespoons red onion
Spreading out the potatoes: As noted in the post, spreading the potatoes out is key to getting them to roast properly. It they're baked in a pile or with too much overlap, they won't develop a toasty, crispy, beautifully browned, roasted exterior. If your baking pan isn't big enough or you want to make a double batch, don't try to squeeze all your fries onto one baking sheet – simply use two baking sheets, and you'll get a much better result.