Tornado Potatoes with Spicy Basil Oil

It’s a BASIL challenge!

It’s been a hot (potato) minute since Daniel and I decided to do an ingredient challenge, since we’ve both been dabbling in the herb and veggie growing scene since the start of the pandemic. Truthfully, the basil challenge was my husband’s idea, since we’re both growing several types of basil, it just made sense for us to highlight this sweet, licorice-scented herb! So thanks Ellie!

In my outdoor patio garden, I’m growing sweet basil, purple basil and lemon basil so clearly I had enough to work with, though my plants are not as abundant as Mr. Peikes’, but he was kind enough to let me snag some of his sweet basil that was growing like crazy!

A Dish is Born

Any of you out there like me, that scour through cookbooks just to get inspired for my next dish? I could spend HOURS just reading 1 cookbook, thinking how I can re-invent this dish, or make it kosher, or spruce it up with different herbs or spices. And that’s exactly what I found with these Tornado Potatoes with Spicy Basil Oil.

Reading through one of BuzzFeed’s Tasty cookbooks, I found a recipe for tornado potatoes and thought “what a fun spin on curly fries!” But their recipe called for melted butter and different spices. And then it hit me. Instead of drizzling melted butter, why not slather on some garlicky-basil oil?! It’s such a great way to get inspiration for a recipe but switch it up and make it your own! humble potato – an oh-so-perfect vessel to highlight basil.  Oh and I ended up using a mix of all of my different basil types, but featured the sweet basil more prominently.

Also, I learned something new today! Tornado potatoes, or “twist potatoes” or “tornado fries” are a common street food in South Korea. And I mean, talk about the perfect street food eaten on a stick. Crispy potatoes – check. Basil oil (or butter) – check. Fresh grated Parmesan cheese – check!

Recipe Notes

As always, here are my notes for this recipe.

  1. You can use either Yukon gold or russet potatoes (see the notes in the recipe block below for details)
  2. I had to practice the “tornado” spiral a few times to get it (even remotely) looking right. I suggest looking up some YouTube videos of how to get the right technique. The trick is to go slow so you get hopefully even layers. Mine aren’t perfect, but that’s okay – they came out great anyway!
  3. And if you don’t really want to both with this fancy-looking technique, use a spiralizer instead and you’ll end up with curly fries! Definitely nothing wrong with that.

Want to kick up this basil challenge even more? Try these Tornado Potatoes with Spicy Basil Oil served alongside my Basil Garlic Dressing to dip! Just a word of caution, your significant other might ban you since you’ll stink of garlic, but it might just be worth it. 😛

Don’t forget to check out Daniel’s basil post: Spicy Thai Basil Chicken Tacos

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Tornado Potatoes with Spicy Basil Oil
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
31 mins
Course: Appetizer
Servings: 2 potatoes
Author: Rachel Katzman
Tornado Potatoes
  • 2 Medium-sized Yukon Gold Potatoes You can use russet potatoes either peeled or unpeeled, just be aware they will take longer to cook
  • 1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese I prefer to buy a block of Parm and keep it in the freezer, instead of buying expensive pre-shredded. Then I just shred it over a microplane when a recipe calls for it!
  • 1 handful Chopped Basil leaves, for garnishing I take my basil leaves and roll them up into a little cigar and slice into ribbons, or "chiffonade", which makes a beautiful presentation. You can also use chopped parsley if you prefer, or don't have enough basil for garnishing
Spicy Basil Oil
  • 1/4 cup Packed, fresh basil leaves, stemmed and washed
  • 1/8 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tbsp Water
  • 1 Clove of Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Crushed Red Pepper flakes Feel free to omit but it really does bring a nice heat to the basil oil and works great with the potatoes. You can always add more if you're feeling like you need a spice kick!
  • 1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika I happened to have smoked paprika on hand, but use what you got! Any type would work - Hungarian sweet, Spanish hot, or just your regular 'ole paprika!
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 325F

  2. Add the potatoes to a microwave-safe bowl and nuke for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes. Let stand for a few minutes to cool. If using russet potatoes, cook for 2 min in the microwave

  3. While the potatoes are cooking in the microwave, make the basil oil

  4. Add the basil, garlic, water, salt, red pepper flakes and paprika to the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times

  5. Add the olive oil and blend until a smooth saucy basil oil comes together

  6. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, insert a wooden skewer into the bottom of each potato and gently push all the way through to the top

  7. Using a spiral motion, hold a sharp knife at an angle, turn the potato the opposite direction of cutting and cut all the way to the skewer. Make sure to go slow and cut thin, even layers all the way down

  8. Carefully fan out the potato slices until you have even spacing throughout the "tornado" and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper

  9. Drizzle the basil oil all over the potatoes

  10. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese all over the oiled potatoes - make sure the potatoes are covered evenly with the basil oil and cheese

  11. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the potatoes are golden brown. If using russet potatoes, bake in 425F oven for 30-40 minutes until golden brown

  12. Garnish with additional basil oil and cheese and chopped fresh basil or parsley and sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese.