Kale chips can satisfy junk food cravings

Posted Nov. 02, 2010, at 6:26 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:52 p.m.

You probably won’t convince a teenager or die-hard couch-potato-chip snacker that these are as good as classic out-of-the-bag junk food, but I have fallen pretty hard for kale chips. They satisfy my longing for crunchy, oily and salty, and look, Ma, no carbohydrates! Plus, as I suspect many gardeners do at this time of year, we sure have kale.

We grow Russian kale with a purple stem. A long-leafed one nicknamed dinosaur kale, which looks like the kind of plants you’d expect a T. rex to prowl among, has the proper name of ‘Nero di Toscana Lacinato kale’ (must’ve been an Italian dinosaur). Then we also have a standard curly leafed kale variety named Winterbor. My neighbor Peigi Cole-Joliffe first told me how she made kale chips and since then I have encountered them elsewhere, most recently at Nebo Lodge on North Haven where I ordered them as an appetizer. Then the next day I visited Turner Farm where the lodge’s kale was grown and Jen Porter, the farm manager, described how she makes them.

When I got home, I combined all the advice from these good folks with my personal observations and came up with the directions below. I make crispy kale out of all the kinds of kale we grow, but I agree with Jen that the standard curly edged kale makes the best version. Just as well because that is the sort that is easiest for you to acquire if you aren’t growing it.

Start with dry kale leaves. If you wash them, make sure you spin them in a salad spinner then pat them dry between dish itowels. Remove the thickest stems and ribs from the leaves and tear them into fairly large pieces because they do shrink.
Yes, the flavor is kalelike, but the texture is so different. What a treat. Serve as an appetizer, or garnish on salad or a plate of food. I just eat them straight off the baking sheet.

Crispy Kale Chips

Yields variable servings

A bunch of kale
Olive oil
Salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the kale leaves by removing the stems and heavy ribs. Tear into large pieces and put into a large bowl. Dribble only a little olive oil, less than a tablespoon, over the leaves and toss them, then massage the leaves to spread the oil all over them. Sprinkle in salt. Spread the leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet and put into the oven for eight to 10 minutes, taking them out once halfway through and turning them over gently. Remove to a serving bowl and repeat until all the kale has been toasted until crisp.

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