Oven fries offer flavor without as much of the guilt

Kelli Dunn

Fries don’t really come to mind when you think about eating healthy, but these are baked in the oven and served with a light, yet creamy, garlic dip. Plus, they’re loaded with big flavor from a spice that’s having a moment right now.

I recently tried a similar dish at Semiramis, a Lebanese restaurant in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood. I was eying a fava bean appetizer, but when I ordered it the wise server glanced at my dining companion, not a big fan of legumes, and quickly said, “You should get the fries. They’re really good.”

And so it was decided.

Turned out, she was right — they were really good. Dusted with lemony sumac, a spice that features widely in the Mediterranean and Turkish cuisine that seems to be everywhere right now, and served with a garlic mousse, they disappeared very quickly. When our server returned, I had to ask about the dip. It was obviously packed with garlic, but what gave it the slightly creamy texture? “Potatoes,” she replied. Genius!

I’ve thickened soups with pureed vegetables before, but I hadn’t thought of doing it with a dip. It’s a great trick and a great way to cut out some of the fat when snacking.

Sumac-Dusted Oven Fries with Garlic Spread

4 medium-sized russet potatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil


1 head garlic

2 tablespoons sumac

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel potatoes. Cut one potato in half and set aside one of the halves. Slice the remaining potatoes into 1/2-inch strips. Toss with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Roughly chop the reserved potato in half. Cook in salted boiling water until soft. Drain and roughly mash with a fork.

Meanwhile, make a paste with the head of garlic. Follow Emma’s instructions at thekitchn.com/diy-garlic-paste-56087. Place garlic into a food processor or blender and add 2 tablespoons of mashed potatoes and 2 tablespoons of water. Add a little more potato or water as necessary. You want the spread to come together, but it won’t be super creamy.

When the fries are done, remove from oven and toss with sumac. Serve with spread on the side. Serves 2.

Recipes notes: You could skip the garlic paste process and toss the whole cloves into the blender.

Per serving: 372 calories; 7 g fat (1 g saturated fat; 17 percent calories from fat); 72 g carbohydrates; 5 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 158 mg sodium; 7 g protein; 5 g fiber.