Friday, September 30, 2011

Leafy green vegetables

After practically OD'ing on dessert recently*,  I went to Trader Joe's and filled up my cart with leafy green vegetables.  For once, I held my head up high at the checkout stand, instead of pointedly avoiding eye contact with the person scanning my piles of cheese, bacon, bread, margarita mix, and ice cream sandwiches**.   I was actually hoping they'd need to do a price check.

"KALE? Can I get a price on kale for this lovely, soon-to-be slender young lady who probably hates cookies?  She's got two bags of it here.  TWO BAGS OF KALE ON THREE!!"

Instead it was a private moment of victory. That was OK. I knew I had bought the kale.

I drove home and considered my kale. The epitome of leafy greenness. Nature's health food, on my counter. The veggie-est of veggies.

So naturally, I turned it into crispy, salty snack chips, and ate an entire bowl while watching TV.

I need help.

Kale Chips
These seem to be terribly "in" at the moment, popping up on numerous blogs, in friends' facebook posts, and at parties.  I can see why.  They are absolutely addictive, and unbelievably easy to make.   This recipe would make a great afternoon mini science experiment with your kids.   Raw kale is quite heavy and thick, and very tough to eat, almost like rubber or plastic. (All that fiber and all those vitamins = lots of chewing)  When baked, all the liquid stored in the dense green leaves evaporates, and the texture is transformed into something almost feathery, ultra light, and super crispy, making these melt-in-your mouth wonderful chips.  They practically float.

1 large head (or bag) of leafy green kale (the cavalo nero variety looks nicest, but any kind will do)
Olive oil spray
Kosher salt, about 1 tsp, or to taste

Other seasoning options you can add:
Chili flakes (~1/2 tsp)
Lemon juice (~1 Tbs)
Parmesan cheese (~2-3 Tbs.)

A friend also just let me know that subbing in Tamari soy sauce for the salt in this recipe is a really, really good idea.

Preheat oven to 300.

Trim the leaves of the kale, and discard the tough stems and center ribs.  Tear or cut the leaves into smaller pieces if needed.  Place the kale in a large mixing bowl, spray generously with the olive oil spray, and toss to coat.  Sprinkle with the salt (or soy sauce), and any other flavorings you choose, then toss again.  Spread the kale out in a single layer on a large baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, until crisp and slightly golden brown.

Allow to cool, then serve immediately.

Click to print this recipe!

* Last few posts:  pudding, pie, cookies, pie.  Up next: cake.  The kale chips gave me energy to get back to baking.
** Even though I never personally ate any of the ice cream sandwiches, I still cringed.  I've taken to stocking up on carrots and lettuce for the guinea pigs every time I go, just so the helpful guy in the Hawaiian shirt doesn't call a cardiologist (that's four bells, I think?) to help me out to the parking lot with my bags.

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