Monday, May 9, 2011

Kale Chips?

Green and leafy
Over Easter weekend, Miriam visited some friends of ours in Florida, and they made kale chips one night. Miriam thought they were great and immediately started bugging me to make them. I honestly wasn't super interested. Then, my mom sent me a recipe that she cut out of the newspaper - for kale chips. Apparently they're the new hot thing in the healthy eating circles. I still wasn't really interested. However, weeks of persistence on Miriam's part have finally paid off, because I buckled and made kale chips on Sunday.

Thanks to a combination of a dead car battery, other recipes going at the same time, and the fact that kale chips only take like three steps to make anyway, I didn't take many pictures for this post. Sorry about that.

Olive Oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 or 3 pinches of salt

Large Bowl
Cookie Sheet
Parchment Paper (recommended)

Preheat your oven to 350

Rinse and thoroughly dry the kale. You can use a salad spinner to dry it, or you can go at it with paper towels. Just get the water off.

Now, rip the leaves of the kale into chip-sized pieces. You have to rip them in a way that gets rid of the large central stem of each leaf, because it's fibrous and will make your chips horrible. It's not complicated or anything, you just hold the leaf by the stem and rip pieces off.

Put the leaf pieces into a large bowl and drizzle some olive oil over them. You don't have to measure it, but if I was pressed, I'd guess about 1-2 tablespoons is plenty for a large bowl of leaves. Add the juice of 1 lemon to the bowl as well, along with a few pinches of salt. Toss the leaves to coat them evenly.

Lay the leaves out in a single layer on a cookie sheet that you've covered with parchment paper. They have to be in a single layer to crisp properly. If you have a lot of kale, you'll either need to use two cookie sheets or bake them in two batches.

It was either this picture or a video of me tearing leaves for twenty minutes.

Bake the leaves for 10-15 minutes. They're done when they're crisp.

  • This is a really loose recipe. If you add a little too much olive oil, lemon juice, or salt, it's probably not a big deal, because only so much will stick to the leaves when you toss them.
  • You could substitute other spices for the lemon juice and salt. Chili powder would probably work pretty well.
  • Some of the leaves will probably be done before others. I handled this by checking the leaves every few minutes after the 10 minute mark, removing any that were done, and spreading the others out a little more before putting them back into the oven. The whole batch was done after 15 minutes.

In the interest of full disclosure, I feel like I should let you know that I have mixed feelings about this recipe. The kale chips definitely tasted good. They were salty and crunchy like a good snack food ought to be. Miriam thought they were excellent as well. My reservations have nothing to do with the result, they have to do with the process. This recipe is a lot of work to make a modest amount of chips.

There are two problem areas. First, tearing the leaves into chips takes forever. I don't think I have enough patience to make more than one cookie sheet's worth of this recipe.

Second, because the chips finish at different times, I literally had to touch every single chip to see if it was done. There is no visual difference between a kale chip that is done, and one that is still half-soggy. So, I had to spend several minutes sorting through the leaves by touch, which was less than fun.

I guess in the end, I'd say go ahead and give this recipe a try, but I wouldn't try it when you're rushed and trying to do several other things in the kitchen at the same time. The chips taste really good, but you're going to have to dedicate a solid half-hour to them if you want to try them out.

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