Thursday, 20 December 2012

Kale chips

I take extra pleasure in finding vegan foods that the most adamant of carnivores will eat. I have one friend who brings frozen chicken wings to every party I throw, as though eating a bit of hummus or rice would make his face melt off. But I did get him to admit that kale chips are "OK," and coming from him, that's a true success.

What's the best thing about kale chips? Is it that they're super crispy and delicious? Is it that they're made from the most beautiful, lush green leaves on earth? Is it that making them involves getting up to your elbows in oil just like you're a kid again? Or is it that they taste remarkably similar to potato chips but they're chock full of nutrients and you don't have to feel bad about eating them?

I would wager, based on my roommate's consistent kale chip consumption habits, that it's probably the latter...
Right when they come out of the oven.
5 minutes out of the oven.
7 minutes out of the oven.
10 minutes out of the oven.

Just look at those luscious leaves!
The thing that originally tempted me to make them this time was that I got kale in my organic produce basket this week, and it was just the most beautiful shade of green. I'm not sure why I've never bothered to try to grow it, though it might have something to do with how little I liked kale until I discovered the noble kale chip at a potluck about a year ago.

They're so simple to make. Start to finish, you can have these ready in under 30 minutes. And what's more, they're both nutritious and delicious, which means it'll only take about as long to polish them off as it took to make them. (Make a double batch if you actually need to hang onto them for a potluck or something. Trust me.)
This beautiful Greek spice blend makes the chips almost taste like sour cream and onion chips!

Finished kale chips are so light and crispy!

Kale chips
Makes about 6 cups

1 bunch kale (about 8 stalks)*
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon spice mix (I used a Greek blend)**

Measure oil and spice into a large mixing bowl. Wash kale well and pat dry. Slice the leaves off the stalks and tear into bite-sized pieces. Toss in the oil and spice mixture until well coated. They will be very shiny once properly oiled.

Spread the kale chips in a single layer on a baking sheet (I needed two). Be sure there isn't too much overlap, or the chips will become chewy rather than crispy. Bake in a 350°F oven for 9-12 minutes, or until they have just barely begun to brown around the edges. They burn very easily, so watch them carefully. I like to check after 8 minutes and taste a chip every minute until they're crispy, then remove them from the oven. Once they're cooked, remove from the pan right away and serve, or allow to cool first. Chips should be eaten within a day or two (though that has never been a problem for me!).

* I've tried this with any number of cooking greens (turnip tops, chard, collards...) with very similar results. If you haven't got kale, it's really not a big deal!
** I once read the recipe wrong and put table salt in instead of spice blend and it was very salty. If you plan to use regular salt, use only half a teaspoon and then adjust to taste.


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