My daughter-in-law gave me a package of a Za’atar-seasoning blend which was intended for use as an olive oil dipping sauce. She loves Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine and had an extra packet to share. How thoughtful, and now I have a new cooking adventure! Rather than making a dipping sauce for pita bread, I used the Za’atar spice blend to flavor sweet potato wedges. The za’atar gave a totally different flavor profile to the sweet potatoes and it was a nice change from Cajun-type spices — which are typically “hot” and require a strong palate to eat. The “Za’atar Roasted Sweet Potato Fries” were delicious. Best of all, I successfully roasted the small batch of sweet potato wedges in my air fryer — yeah, go air fryer. This three-ingredient sweet potato recipe is so simple!
I was in the spirit for trying out new recipes and served the “Za’atar Roasted Sweet Potato Fries” as part of a “melting pot” meal which included my version of Southern-style “Raising Cane’s Fried Chicken Fingers” and an southwest-inspired orzo salad. Those recipes turned out well, too, and I’ll share them in future blog posts.
What is Za’artar?
Za’artar is a seasoning blend which usually includes oregano, marjoram or thyme, coriander, sesame seeds, salt and sumac. It is used extensively in Middle Eastern cooking. There are so many variations to za’artar seasoning blends, depending upon the proportions of ingredients such as thyme and sumac, that za’artar blends can look like totally different concoctions. When purchasing za’artar at a Middle Eastern grocery, I ask for assistance from the store’s proprietor who is always willing to give me lots of advice on types of za’artar.
One ingredient common to za’artar blends is sumac. Sumac’s flavor profile is somewhat tart like lemon but also somewhat fruity and floral without being noticeably sweet. In other words, there’s no good substitute for this ingredient in our American supermarkets. Sumac is the berry of a deciduous shrub and tree and grows in subtropical and temperate regions throughout the world, including the Mediterranean, East Asia, Africa and North America. Although edible sumac grows in this country, there is also a poisonous sumac plant — so I wouldn’t even try to figure out if I was picking the correct plant. I’ll go to a Middle Eastern grocery to purchase sumac.
Air Fryer Recipe
Now that I’ve figured out that my air fryer is a convection oven and not a deep fat fryer, I’ve had a lot more success using it. These roasted sweet potato fries were cooked perfectly in my small air fryer — tender and flavorful.
My air fryer is great for scaled down recipes where you just need a small batch. In this recipe, I used one sweet potato which weighted 12 oz. This large sweet potato actually made four servings. By crisscrossing the potato sticks in the air fryer so that the convection-blown air circulated, I was able to cook the entire potato at once. I did need to redistribute the sweet potato sticks halfway through the cooking process since my convection oven heats from the top down. When cooking multiple layers, the top layer of sweet potatoes cooks the fastest and the bottom layer really very little.
A Small Batch of “Roasted Sweet Potato Fries” Recipe
This recipe is so easy to make. It has only three ingredients: a sweet potato, olive oil and za’atar spice blend. (Salt is optional.)
To make the recipe, peel the sweet potato and cut lengthwise into sticks (or wedges). Blend the olive oil and za’artar blend. Toss the sweet potato sticks in the olive oil/seasoning mix until all of the sweet potatoes are coated. Sprinkle with salt, if desired.
Place in the air fryer basket like crosswise match sticks so that there is air between the pieces. Roast for15 minutes, carefully flipping and redistributing them halfway through the cooking time.
The sweet potatoes should be soft and easily pierced with a knife. Then they are ready to serve.
This is such a simple recipe! The sweet potatoes have a pleasing, mild flavor when cooked in this manner. Sort of a Middle Eastern taste. I’m glad I figured out how to make the roasted sweet potato wedges/sticks in my air fryer. This saves heating up the oven — and my husband and I only need a small batch! I’ll be making and serving this recipe again. Enjoy!
Za'atar Roasted Sweet Potato Fries in the Air Fryer
- 1 medium (approx 12 oz) sweet potato
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp za’atar spice blend (select one which is intended for an olive oil dipping sauce)
- 1/2 tsp salt, optional
Method and Steps:
- Peel sweet potato and cut lengthwise into 1/2″ sticks.
- In a large bowl, combine oil and za’artar spice blend. Toss sweet potato sticks until all sticks are coated.
- If desired, sprinkle on salt.
- Place sweet potato sticks in air fryer basket in a crisscross manner so that air can circulate.
- Place basket in air fryer. Turn temperature to 375 degrees and set timer for 15 minutes. Redistribute and flip the sweet potato sticks halfway through the cooking time.*
*NOTE: Some air fryers may need to be pre-heated. Follow manufacturer’s instructions.