By Laura Hogg
From the Laura's Culinary Adventures Blog Series
For the longest time, I thought of kale as some mysterious, exotic food - the sort of vegetable you hear about in trendy blogs and health-food stores. Any recipe, I thought, could sound more alluring if you added the word "kale" to the name. To wit: "Black Bean Curry Kale Burgers," "Kale Almond Milk," "Banana Kale Ice Cream."
...okay, maybe that wouldn't work out so well. But my first experience with this gorgeous leafy green did happen to be in a delicious soup my mom made that had "African" in the name of the recipe - so, to me, it has always had exotic connotations. I have since learned that the recipe had nothing to do with Africa, but first impressions die hard, I suppose. I have also learned that, far from being exotic, kale was once one of the most common green veggies in the whole European continent. It was introduced to Canada and then the U.S. by Russian traders (yep, this had nothing to do with Africa) back in the 1800's.
And thank goodness for that, because it's pretty amazing. I won't bore you with kale's complete nutritional profile, but I will give you this quick rundown. One cup of kale gives you 88% of your Vitamin C for the day, over 190% of your Vitamin A, and a whopping 1327% of your Vitamin K. It helps regulate digestion. It is packed with antioxidants and helps to fight against the inflammation in arthritis, autoimmune disorders, and asthma. Oh, and it has cancer-preventing and cholesterol-lowering properties.
Interested? Yeah, I thought so. No wonder it's been called the most nutritious vegetable in the world.
However, for kale newbies, the flavor might be a bit intense; it can taste a little bit bitter at times. So I figured we'd start out with this recipe for a great little snack to introduce you to this nutritional powerhouse! Full disclosure: this recipe is easy. Like, really easy.
- 1 bunch kale (I used curly kale, and I actually used 3 bunches. So if you want more chips, like you'll see in the pictures, you can double or triple the recipe!)
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil (I hear that you can use PAM or a similar cooking spray but I have not tried this.)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Parchment paper (optional)
First, preheat the oven to 300. I have seen a lot of different recipes for kale chips, and it seems that they all use a different temperature. Personally, I'd rather bake on a lower temperature for longer than a high temperature for a short time - that way, there's less of a chance it will burn!
What you start out with doesn't look very chip-y. So first of all, you need to tear it into bite-sized pieces, making sure to throw away or compost the tough stems as you go. That will turn this:
Please note - the kale will shrink a lot when baked, so what looks bite-size now will look really tiny when it's all done! I probably made mine too small, but of course, it doesn't affect the taste at all.
When the kale is all torn up, rinse and dry it thoroughly, using a salad spinner if desired. Once dry, toss it in a bowl with the olive oil and salt so it gets all shiny and beautiful, and then spread it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Then step back and admire how lovely and fresh it looks. Seriously, isn't kale pretty?
Then comes the waiting game. The kale should probably stay in the oven for around 25 minutes, but I would start checking it after 15 since it has the potential to burn. Take it out too early and you'll be left with chewy leaves, but leave it in too long and you'll be stuck with a charred mess. I recommend popping one in your mouth to check the consistency every 3-5 minutes after the 15 minute mark.
That's it! Easy, no?
Love it/like it/lesson learned?
This one is a hearty love it with a dash of lesson learned, but it wasn't the fault of the recipe. I didn't really measure out the olive oil, salt, or pepper, so I think I used too much on all counts. Next time I'm going to try to follow the recipe more carefully, and try some different spices - I've seen some people recommend curry or garlic. Yum!
But despite my mistakes, these chips were a big hit at my house. My mom loved them, and Chris and I enjoyed a bowl of them while we watched an episode of Pushing Daisies, and let me tell you - they didn't last past the opening credits. I'll definitely be making them again!