I could never get into kale. Heck, I’ve long been timid about greens in general — the delicate ones like baby spinach and arugula were easy but as soon as things got a little heavier, I got nervous. When I finally found a respectable green I found palatable — Swiss chard, which I think of as the green for spinach people — I went to town with it: a tart, a spaghetti dish and then gratin. But I still couldn’t warm to kale. Because I didn’t like the way it tasted. And I don’t care if something is chock-full of vitamin A, C and calcium, I don’t care if it makes you live longer or feel stronger or fixes the budget deficit, I’ve got this hang-up wherein I won’t eat food if it doesn’t taste good to me. (My offspring is a little less particular, it seems.) And kale just didn’t.
But in February, I began seeing a recipe for baked kale chips flitting about the internet. I’m not sure where it started (or re-started, as I see folks have actually been making this for years), but I’m guessing with a Dan Barber recipe in Bon Appetit that month. His version used whole leaves and arranged them daintily in a pitcher; the more rustic version I’d seen on blogs (and hooray for that) was simple to de-stem the kale, cut or tear it up, toss it with a bit of oil and bake it until crisp.
Yes, crisp. I would never lie to you when it comes to chips, as I take crackly crunch quite seriously. Baking kale transforms the qualities I always loathed in kale — the dense bitterness — into something impossibly light, with a nice depth of flavor from the oil and salt. This isn’t a stewy stick-to-your ribs kale braise and it is not something you eat because you ought to, it’s something you’d eat because you like it. Revolutionary stuff, people.
[Psst. And possibly even more so if you do this to it (hat tip):]
This week: We have flown the coop! We’re splashing in the Caribbean! Thus, comment responses will be slow and spotty. But new posts will appear, as if by magic, as I take you through my cooking backlog. Fun for everyone!
Baked Kale Chips
Adapted from a bunch of inspiring places
1 bunch (about 6 ounces) kale (I used Lacinato or “Dinosaur” Kale but I understand that the curlier stuff works, too, possibly even better)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 300°F. Rinse and dry the kale, then remove the stems and tough center ribs. Cut into large pieces, toss with olive oil in a bowl then sprinkle with salt. Arrange leaves in a single layer on a large baking sheet (I needed two because mine are tiny; I also lined mine with parchment for easy clean-up but there’s no reason that you must). Bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp. Place baking sheet on a rack to cool.
Kale-Dusted Popcorn If you’re making the chips with the intention to grind them up for popcorn, I’d use less oil — perhaps half — so they grind without the “powder” clumping. I ground a handful of my chips (about half) in a mortar and pestle (well, actually the “pestle” was MIA so I used the handle of an OXO reamer, not that anyone asked) and sprinkled it over popcorn (1/4 cup popcorn kernels I’d cooked in a covered pot with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil over medium heat, shaking it about with potholders frequently). I seasoned the popcorn with salt. I liked this snack, but I think Parmesan and Kale-Dusted Popcorn would be even more delicious. Next time!