These little nuggets of crunchy goodness came about in a what-to-serve-with-grilled-veggie-burgers quandary. I wanted a healthy vegetable side dish, but something that tasted as unhealthy as French fries. We made baked French fries over the weekend and they were amazing, but twice in one week seemed a little too often for something probably best eaten “in moderation,” especially since between the two of us, I think we at four whole potatoes worth!
While possibly a little more nutritious, baked sweet potato fries have always left me disappointed—they just don’t crisp like russets or Yukon golds do. And I refuse to deep-fry! The one time I made homemade tater tots they were pretty good, but I was afraid there’d be the same mush for texture if I tried “totting” sweet potatoes. Then I got to thinking about the crispy panko-coated eggplant in my Baked Eggplant Parmesan. Maybe panko-coated sweet potato tots!?!
So I gave it a shot. I undercooked the potatoes so they would be firm enough to shred, and included a small russet in the mix; just because. A pinch of cinnamon seemed like it might be a nice touch and I included a generous amount of sea salt to contrast with the sweetness of the taters. The panko bread crumbs stayed put and with a spritz of olive oil cooking spray, the result was a lovely crisp exterior and a firm, not mushy, interior.
We loved them! They went perfectly with the burgers and now I’m excited to make them for company as a cute little appetizer. My mind is going crazy thinking of delicious dipping sauces to serve them with like spicy curried ketchup, kimchi aioli or a Cajun concoction with a kick. Your suggestions always welcome. I hope you like them as much as we do!
Sweet Potato Tots
1 medium russet potato, about halfway cooked and peeled
½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon salt
A pinch of cinnamon
½ cup (or more if necessary) cup panko bread crumbs, seasoned with additional salt and some freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil cooking spray
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. You can cook the potatoes in the microwave or boil them, but only cook them about halfway so that they are still rather firm. Once they are peeled and cooled enough that they can be handled, shred them on the small side of a box grater.
Place shredded taters in a medium bowl and add parmesan, salt and cinnamon and stir with a fork to combine. Place panko that has been seasoned with salt & pepper into a flat dish. Form potatoes by the tablespoon into the shape of a tater tot. Roll in panko until coated on all sides. Place tots on prepared baking sheet (at this point you can freeze them, on pan until frozen, then placed in zip-lock plastic bag—can cook from frozen, just increase cooking time).
Lightly spray tots with olive oil cooking spray. Bake for about 12 minutes. Turn tots and spray again. Bake another 12 minutes or so. Turn the oven to broil, and broil until tots are golden and crisp, making sure not to burn them—it will probably only take a minutes or two. Serve immediately. Makes enough for 2-4 as a side dish.