February 17, 2010
With the deadly back-to-back combo of Valentine’s Day, Chinese New Year, Presidents’ Day, & Mardi Gras, you might have overdone it the last few days. Fear not—I have vegetables for you. Vegetables you’ll actually WANT to eat.
The season of Lent begins in earnest at the exact moment Mardi Gras (known to the church-going as Shrove Tuesday) ends. While an abstemious season might not sound so appealing, the Episcopalian schoolgirl in me appreciates the opportunity to reflect and scale back. Blame it on the way I was raised, but I actually look forward to giving something up for Lent.
In the past, I’ve done without chocolate, meat, desserts, Diet Coke, and gossip. This year, I’m saying goodbye to alcohol for forty days—so long, margaritas, au revoir glasses of red wine, bye-bye beer.
What I appreciate about this discipline is that it forces some thoughtfulness into my daily life. During Lent, I have to work around the commitment I’ve made; I have to remind myself why I made the commitment in the first place.
For the past few months, Jill and I have been consciously working to integrate many more servings of vegetables into our regular diet. Seriously, when you look at the recommended amount of green (or purple) things one is supposed to eat in any given day, it’s kind of shocking. Shocking how rarely I meet those guidelines, that is.
Until kale chips came into my life. You’ve probably read about or at least seen these guys dancing around lots of blogs in the last few months, and I had, too, but somehow it took my stubborn self entirely too long to try them. I pray you won’t make the same mistake.
These damn things are so good they even passed the muster of my “fry everything!” Louisiana-in-laws. In the words of my friend John, “You just can’t understand how KALE could taste this good.” It’s true. These chips are now a regular in my kitchen, and whether I’m serving them to company or just for me and Jill, they disappear quickly. I know you won’t believe me until you try it yourself, but you can get the crunch & salt factor of potato chips without having to fry anything and with the satisfaction of, well, eating a vegetable.
Whether you’re giving up an indulgence for Lent, or are just tired of salad, I urge you to give these pretty kale chips a whirl. Just don’t blame me if they leave you dumbfounded.
This basic recipe calls only for salt, but you’re certainly welcome to add other seasonings—garlic powder, Creole seasoning, pepper—but they lack nothing as-is.
Prepping the kale takes a little work, but once you’ve done that, the chips are incredibly simple to make. If your grocery store sells pre-washed & bagged kale, feel free to cheat! I usually prep two bunches at once, storing the washed and dried leaves from one bunch in a Ziploc bag for future use.
1-2 bunches kale*
pan: baking sheets
Cut or tear the kale leaf off of the middle rib, then cut or tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Rinse the kale thoroughly in a sink full of cold water, then transfer into a colander to drain.
If you have a salad spinner, employ it here. If not, proceed straight to towel-stacking, which goes something like this:
On a clean kitchen counter, spread out a very absorbent kitchen towel. Line it with some paper towels. Top the paper towels with a few handfuls of kale leaves, distributed evenly into one layer. Place more paper towels on top of the kale, then another kitchen towel on top of all that. Repeat. Stack until the kale’s all hidden away, then press down lightly on the towel stack. Let the kale sit for 5-10 minutes.
[My method may seem extreme, and yes, it’s a little time-consuming, but having very dry kale leaves makes a big difference when it comes to getting your chips crunchy. Patience, grasshopper.]
Unwrap the kale and shake it into a big bowl (unless you’re reserving some of it for future use). Drizzle a few tablespoons of oil over the kale, then toss to coat. You don’t want to drown it, just barely cover each piece.
Spread the kale out onto two baking sheets—if you’re cooking two bunches at once, you’ll need to work in batches. Salt the kale just before you slide it into the oven.
Bake for10-12 minutes, or until the edges of the kale pieces have become crinkly and any remaining moisture has left the leaves. Serve warm.
Due to the inconsistency of ovens, please watch your kale closely! You might want to try the chips first on lower heat, to prevent burning.
*I’ve used both flat (Tuscan) and curly kale, but prefer the latter.