Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bell Pepper-French Fry Impostors

Last week I curled up on the couch during one of my lunch breaks and watched an episode of "30 Minute Meals with Rachael Ray."

Wrapped up all cozy in a blanket, I watched Rachael make Baked Chili Fries with Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing. Typically, I would barely eye an episode like this. I'm not a fan of hot peppers, and I've never been wild about Ranch (yes, I know: it's completely un-American of me). Plus, even with the word "baked" tacked onto the beginning, "Chili Fries with Ranch Dressing" doesn't exactly sound like something that will be gracing the cover of Clean Eating Magazine anytime soon.

However, this was no ordinary day. A strange wave of baked-chili-fry fever came over me, and I haven't been able to shake it since. I've literally been fantasizing about this dish. Someone help me--I need some baked fries (or some cowbell) to cure my fever.

Tonight, fantasy became reality when I made them, ate them, and promptly added them to my list of favorite french fry impostors. We used green bell pepper instead of chilis (what can I say? I'm a hot-foods wimp). These guys were to-die-for! And no wonder I've never liked Ranch dressing--I've never had it homemade. My goodness. We gobbled these suckers up in no time.

Rachael made them as part of a tail-gating sports party theme, but you certainly don't need to. I watched Glee while I ate my fries...can you think of anything less athletic?

French Fry Impostors, here we come!

Baked Bell Pepper Fries with Buttermilk Ranch
(adapted from a Rachael Ray recipe)

Despite their healthy-baked cooking method, these guys will still cure your fried food craving. And the ranch dressing is just not optional. Unless of course you decide to make some blue cheese dressing, in which case I would totally approve.

Pepper Ingredients:
  • 2 green bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 cup flour, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 TBSP dijon mustard
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup Asiago cheese, grated
  • plenty of ground black pepper
  • salt to taste
Ranch Dressing Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup non-fat or low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 1 TBSP white wine vinegar
  • 1 - 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp. (or more to taste) dried dill weed
  • 3 TBSP fresh chives, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking sheet (or two) with cooking spray and set aside.

2) Set up three plates/bowl: one plate with flour only, one bowl with the egg, dijon mustard, and 2 TBSP flour (whisked well), and one plate with the breadcrumbs, cheese, salt and pepper mixed together.

3) For each slice of bell pepper, first dip it in the flour, then the egg mixture, then the bread crumb mixture. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until browned.

4) To prepare the dressing, combine all ingredients in a bowl.

5) Dip those tasted pepper slices into the dressing, and say "thank you" to dear Rachael Ray :)


  1. Wow--I've never heard of bell pepper fries, but I sure love the idea of it!!! Great adaptation on the original recipe :-]

  2. This is a great idea! I bet your version was better than Rachael's :)

  3. I have a love-hate relationship with Rachael Ray. But if those fries of her inspired this right here, then I'm totally on board. I can't wait to try these!

  4. I like to watch RR's old cooking shows, but I really haven't made much of her recipes. I think using bell pepper is a good idea -- I too am kind of a hot foods wimp :(

  5. Oh my gosh what a great idea. I totally think this could get my little brother to eat more vegies. Anything coated in bread he would eat Im pretty sure ;)

  6. Wow! To me, chili fries = regular french fries with chili on top (ground beef with chili seasonings and cheese). Maybe that's a TX thing? These sound amazing! I had "onion splinters" once and each was both a thin strip of onion and jalapeno fried. That was also served with ranch and I loved them, so I will have to try these!

  7. Those sound fab! I wanna try them!

    I can't lie to you though. I love ranch dressing...from a mix, bottle, wherever it comes from. I love it. I'm glad you didn't ax it out of your recipe! ;)

  8. Clever!

    I have a love/hate relationship with Rachael. Same goes for Oprah. I like her because she is down-to-earth, but sometimes her nasal-y voice gets to be too much and I hate the "EVOO" shouting matches. I love olive oil as much as the next person, but no need to yell about it. :P