So I’m slightly obsessed with kale. No, not THIS obsessed. But I am definitely on the kale bandwagon of late. Almost overnight, I went from a maybe-Kale eater to a daily-Kale eater after watching this truly fascinating TED Talk about the health benefits of kale and other fibrous, sulfurous vegetables. (Go on … I’ll be quiet here for 17 minutes while you watch it.)
So now comes the hard part: making fibrous, sulfurous leafy greens taste good enough to eat on a regular basis. Lately, I’ve been enjoying kale in salads with a strong Dijon vinaigrette. If you let the salad marinate for 15 minutes or so, the kale softens, making it much more palatable.
The other way I’ve been serving kale lately is as chips. And as I’ve learned over the past two weeks, kale chips are easy to mess up. When making kale chips, you are going for airy crisps — like the lightest little potato chips you’ve ever laid fingers on — that give a satisfying *crunch* when you bite into them. As for things you want to avoid: soggy, chewy, tough or burned kale, as well as any thick kale stems.
Here are my seven secrets for making really good kale chips:
1. Buy the kale already washed and chopped.
This makes the whole process so much easier. Just transfer the cut and cleaned curly kale to a large rimmed baking sheet, and you’re half way there. Now, if you don’t trust the ol’ “triple washed” promise on the bag, wash it yourself and be sure to dry it thoroughly. If the kale is wet, the excess water will “steam” the kale and prevent the kale from crisping up properly.
2. Remove any stems.
At first I thought maybe the steams would be okay. Well, I was wrong. Even after being cooked, the stems are chewy and tough. Just pinch them off the leaves and discard.
3. Don’t overcrowd the baking sheet.
For the same reason Julia Child instructed us not to crowd the mushrooms, don’t overcrowd the kale, either. If you want to make a large quantity, you can pile on about 1/3 or 1/2 of the bag (about 3-4 ounces) onto a large baking sheet, but don’t try to do a full 10-ounce bag at once. Spread the kale evenly in one single layer on the baking sheet for best results.
4. Use a little extra virgin olive oil and a little salt.
The optimal amount of olive oil seems to be around 1 Tablespoon for 3-4 ounces of kale. Any more oil will result in chips that are too greasy. As for salt, a little goes a long way. Start with a pinch sprinkled over the whole pan, and then add more after baking if needed. Use clean hands to work the oil and salt into the raw kale pieces. (Some people call this technique “massaging” the kale. However, that word, along with “macerate” are both banned in my kitchen. Sorry.)
5. Get creative with your toppings!!
Thinking of different flavors for kale chips has been so much fun! So far, my favorites are Parmesan, Pesto, and Balsamic Glaze. We’ve also enjoyed Salt and Vinegar, and the “Trifecta” (garlic, Parmesan, and bacon). The one limitation on toppings is that you don’t want to use too much liquid; again, this can cause the kale to “steam” instead of crisp, so keep your liquids to about 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon per 3-4 ounces of kale. To make sure the toppings are evenly spread out, use clean hands to work the toppings into the raw kale, like you did with the olive oil and salt.
6. Bake at 300 for 20 minutes, or until dry and crispy.
Three-hundred degrees seems to be the optimal baking temp. Anything higher will cause some pieces to burn; anything lower will just take longer. After you put the pan in the oven, you don’t need to flip the chips or turn the pan or do anything else while they are baking. Just set a timer so you don’t forget em. The finished kale chips should be very dry (i.e., almost crumble to dust when you pick them up) with just enough salt and oil to make you think your eating potato chips (i.e., with a little on your lips and fingers after each bite).
7. Serve hot and enjoy!
I think kale chips taste best a few minutes after they come out of the oven. At that time, they are crispy and hot. Although I have stored leftovers in the refrigerator and eaten them the next day, they just aren’t as good … sort of like leftover French fries.
Hope you enjoy these! Let me know if you get a chance to try them, and for sure if you discover a new delicious topping!!
3-4 ounces curly kale (washed, dried and chopped with stems removed)
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
Optional toppings: 1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan; 1-2 Tablespoons Pesto; 1-2 cloves garlic, minced; 1/2 – 1 Tablespoon Balsamic Glaze
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Spread the kale pieces in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Remove any tough stems and discard. Drizzle the olive oil over the kale; then sprinkle the salt and add any toppings that you wish.
Using clean hands, work the oil, salt and toppings into and all over the kale pieces. Spread the kale leaves back out into a single, even layer. Bake at 300 for 20 minutes, or until kale pieces are dry and crispy.
Remove baking sheet from oven and cool for 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust salt if needed. Serve immediately.