We all need some comfort food once in a while. I was thinking of a friend when I prepared this recipe. She guiltily treats herself to cheesy fries every year at our local fair. Fat content aside, her food allergies make this an increasingly risky endeavor.
These cheesy fries are made with simple whole food ingredients. The fries are baked instead of, well, fried. And the “cheese” sauce is plant-based. The combination offers a healthier crispy, gooey, satisfying treat without the guilt!
Plant-based “Cheese” Sauce
When I decided to make cheesy fries I figured I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel by developing a cheese sauce. Why expend that kind of time and energy when there are already so many great recipes out there? A quick Google search brought me to Kathy Hester’s site Healthy Slow Cooking. Kathy shares my fondness for slow cooking. I have her cookbook The Vegan Slow Cooker.
However her site also offers recipes not made in a slow cooker. Her Creamy Vegetable-based Vegan Cheese Sauce appeared to be exactly what I was looking for. The main ingredients were a pleasant surprise:
The sauce was quick and easy to make. As per Kathy’s suggestion, I kicked it up a notch by adding a teaspoon of the same taco seasoning I use in my lentil taco salad. (Update: I have since shared my spicy version of this cheese sauce in my Plant-Based Nacho Cheese Sauce recipe post.)
The results? Yum! I have to confess I licked the spatula way more times than I really needed to. (Of course I rinsed it off between licks so as to not gross out my family.)
Baked Cheesy Fries
Plant-based “cheese” sauce is a much healthier alternative to the regular fat-laden variety. Baking the fries offers additional “fat-savings.”
The trick is to not use too much oil. Shaking the potato slices in a bag with just a bit of oil (1 tsp) allows you to lightly coat them with oil for added crispiness without using too much.
The light coating of oil also helps the spices stick to the potatoes, while lining the baking sheet with parchment paper resolves any concerns about things sticking where they shouldn’t.
Baked fries are crispy and delicious!
No Guilt Cheesy Fries - Vegan and Gluten Free
Preheat convection toaster oven on bake setting to 400 degrees.**
Scrub and slice potatoes into long strips. (Leave skin on.)
Place olive oil in a 1 gallon plastic bag and add potato slices.
Shake potatoes in bag until they are evenly coated with oil.
Add taco seasoning to bag and shake again until potatoes are evenly coated with spices.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet.
Pour potatoes onto baking sheet and arrange in a single layer.
Bake potatoes for 15 minutes, turn with a spatula and continue baking for another 15 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through and crispy on the outside.
Divide baked potato fries between two plates and spoon cheese sauce over them.
*You can prepare cheese sauce ahead of time and warm the portion needed just before the fries are done. Or you can chop all of the vegetables at once and prepare the cheese sauce while the fries are baking.
**If you are using a conventional oven instead of a convection toaster oven, you may need to allow more time for cooking.
Note: I do not include nutrition information with my recipes because I subscribe to the theories presented in the book Whole and believe we should focus on eating a variety of whole foods instead of counting calories or keeping track of individual nutrients.
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