Without going into too much detail, I was turned off of mayonnaise by an unfortunate bout of childhood lice and its use in said affliction.* (The best part about that entire experience was the book of washable Star Wars tattoos that my sister and I used up all over our bodies, and all of the photos my parents took of those moments that we now get to laugh at.) It may not come as a surprise, therefore, that I am not a fan of Ranch dressing, unlike most people I know. But I do love anything with tahini in it, so when I saw a recipe for Tahini Ranch in Andy Baraghani’s fantastic book, The Cook You Want to Be, and I didn’t see mayo on the ingredients list, I knew I had to try it.
Andy mentioned in his recipe that the ranch would go well with any roasted vegetable; my immediate thought was sweet potato fries, since so often restaurants pair sweet potato fries with creamy, mayo-esque dips. I’m also a big fan of sweet potatoes in general; when Jonji and I were first dating, we sang a famous duet from Moulin Rouge over a bin of sweet potatoes at the Davis food co-op. We got some weird looks, but since new love does crazy things to your brain, the looks didn’t bother us. And the roasted sweet potatoes we made that night at his college-clean rental house were excellent. But back to the recipe at hand. When I finally tested my hunch one night, I was pleasantly rewarded: I couldn’t stop dipping slabs of sweet potato into the decadent Tahini Ranch throughout the meal, almost ignoring everything else on my plate. It goes without saying (but I’m saying it anyway) that you can use Tahini Ranch in place of classic Ranch in any other meal. And if you’re so delighted with this dish that you’re moved to sing a love song over it, I won’t judge.
*I do still enjoy the occasional mayonnaise-containing recipe, like Tuna Melts. I am a nuanced human being, after all.
Sweet Potato Fries with Tahini Ranch
makes enough fries for 4-5 people and about 1 cup of tahini ranch
/ Ranch recipe adapted from Andy Baraghani’s recipe in The Cook You Want to Be
4-5 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 lbs), ideally different kinds
a few tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
1/3 cup tahini
2 garlic cloves, either finely grated or mashed in a mortar and pestle
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup cold water
Preheat your oven to 400°F.
Slice your sweet potatoes* into roughly 3 inch long, 1/2 inch wide strips. Toss on a large baking sheet with a few tbsp of olive oil, 1 tbsp kosher salt, and several cracks of black pepper (if your baking sheet is too crowded, divide the sweet potato fries between two baking sheets—if they’re too close, they will steam rather than brown). Bake for 15 minutes, then flip the fries and bake for another 10 minutes. If you’re using two sheets, rotate them so they bake more evenly. Set aside to cool slightly.
While the fries bake, make the tahini ranch. In a small bowl, whisk 1/3 cup Greek yogurt, 1/3 cup tahini, 2 mashed or grated garlic cloves, 3 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp salt. Drizzle 1/4 cup cold water into the mixture, whisking as you pour (set the bowl on a kitchen towel to make this easier). The ranch will seize up at first, but keep mixing and it will eventually become smooth. Taste, and add more lemon juice, salt, or some black pepper if you’d like.
Serve the sweet potatoes with the tahini ranch on the side. Enjoy!
*You can peel them if you want, but it’s so much easier to keep the skin on. Plus, the skin of any vegetable is where most of the nutrients are stored.