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45 mins

A Girl and Her Greens
At the end of a long winter, even my enthusiasm for root vegetables begins to flag a bit. And I’m an avowed root veg lover. That’s when I turn to these colourful crisps, which make of the same old carrots and beetroot something special and fun. They’re the most delicious things, these crisps. Every single one has its own character. Nibble a few at a time and you can still taste the earthy potato, the sweet beet. Not to mention they’re very cute. Particularly the parsnips, which when sliced into rounds, fry up like little flowers.
While they’re well worth the effort, crisps do require time and attention. Take care to slice the vegetables uniformly, applying even pressure as you work the mandoline. (In case you’re afraid for your fingers, buy a few extra veg so you’re not compelled to tempt fate.) The frying is quite simple, easier than many home cooks assume, though you’ll want to make sure to tweak the heat if necessary and not overload the oil with veg, in order to maintain a consistent temperature. Once you master frying, you’ll find yourself having a go with vegetables you didn’t plan to fry. That’s how I discovered fried beetroot leaves, which get a little lemony, almost like chard.

serves 4 to 8 as a snack

Posted by Canongate Published See Canongate's 6 projects » © 2021 April Bloomfield · Reproduced with permission.
  • Step 1

    Using the mandoline, slice the parsnip, carrot and beetroot into uniformly thin (you’re shooting for about 1.5-mm) pieces. Cut the parsnip into round slices and the carrot and beetroot into lengthwise slices. You might want to halve the carrots and beetroot lengthwise before slicing to make it easier to slice evenly. Five minutes or so before you’re ready to fry, slice the potatoes lengthwise, put them in a bowl of water and gently toss with your hands to wash off some of the starch. Leave the potatoes in the bowl until you’re ready to fry, but don’t keep them in the water for more than 5 minutes or they will absorb too much water, making it difficult to fry them properly. Remove the thick centre vein from the reserved beetroot leaves and tear the leaves into large pieces. Keep each type of vegetable separate.

  • Step 2

    Add the oil (the amount depends on your fryer’s capacity) to your electric deep-fryer and heat to 180 ̊C/350°F. Alternatively, clip a deep- frying thermometer to a heavy pot and add at least 8cm of oil. Heat the oil over high heat until it has reached 180 ̊C/350°F. Line a large mixing bowl with kitchen paper for draining.

  • Step 3

    Drain the potatoes, pat them dry and fry them in batches (a good handful at a time), using a long spoon to keep them moving in the oil so they fry evenly and tweaking the heat as necessary to maintain the temperature as best you can. Fry until they’re light golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. As each batch is done, use the fryer basket or a spider to transfer it to the kitchen-paper lined bowl. Immediately give the vegetables a gentle toss to help drain the oil, season with sea salt and transfer to a serving bowl.

  • Step 4

    Lower the heat to bring the oil temperature to a steady 170 ̊C/325 ̊F. One type at a time, fry the rest of the vegetables in batches the same way you fried the potatoes, until they’re crispy. Fry the beetroot last, because it’ll stain the oil. The frying will take about 3 minutes for the parsnips, about 5 minutes for the carrots, 1 minute for the beetroot leaves, and about 4 minutes for the beetroot. You’ll want to add the cover to the electric fryer or use a splatter screen when you’re frying the leaves, because they splatter.

  • Step 5

    The crisps will stay crispy for up to 1 hour. When you’re ready to eat, sprinkle on the za’atar and serve straightaway.

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