Although I know I’m so far behind in trending that I probably wear my pants backward when I “jump, jump,” I have finally crossed that scary barrier and eaten kale for real! Ok, maybe not in its true natural form, but kale chips are the oldest newest thing, so I finally gave in and gave chomping on green leaves a whirl.
I’ve been using kale in my green juice for over a year because it’s a superstar green for many reasons. Borecole (kale) has calcium, vitamins and fiber up the wazoo, anti-cancer properties (antioxidants), eye-health promoting lutein, and lowers blood cholesterol and the risk of heart disease when cooked. I really don’t think there’s anything bad to be said about kale… unless you have problems with over-abundant vitamin K or absorbing calcium (according to webMD, which also has great ideas for incorporating kale into the diet).
Since I had a chance to ravage the farmer’s market on Sunday, I picked up a ton of fabulously green, leafy kale among my other vegetables, bread, and cheeses. Wanting to do something unique with my organic curly find, I poured over many a blog to find just the right recipe for kale chips. All had the same ingredients – kale, olive oil, and sea salt. Great. The problem I found was that not one of the 7-10 recipes that I looked at had the same oven temperature or cook time… seriously, NOT ONE!!
In the end, you may or may not agree with my choice, but I will tell you why I made it anyway. I found two blogs who had posts just like mine. Not in the sense that they speak exactly like me, or that they post the same as I do all the time, but simply that they came off as, um, more real. Does that make sense? I am always an extremely honest blogger, sometimes to a fault. And if I have success in the kitchen, you’ll hear all about it. But if I completely fail in the kitchen… you’ll hear all about it. Because of that, I like a blog that gives a professional recipe, but I LOVE a blog that admits the first trial may have gotten a bit wonky and success wasn’t found until the second or third try. I’m not saying I want people to fail first! I’m just a fan of someone who can admit they are human, just like me.
move over spinach, there’s a new green in town…
So, Old World Garden Farms and millezille had my favorite posts about their adventures with making kale chips. Since even the two had differing opinions about the actual cooking of the chips, I decided to go with the “low and slow” approach, because I figured it would be really hard to screw it up that way. I took a bunch of kale stalks (like 4 or 5) and ripped pieces off of the big vein in the middle. Funny enough, all the blogs I read talk about chopping the kale, yet it seemed that the leaves themselves had been shaped into perfectly sized pieces that I simply needed to separate from its stalk. It was only at the top of each piece that I actually had to rip nature’s proportions in half in order to make more appropriate bite-size chips. Naturally, the way I discovered this, was after my first batch of chips when I had a few that I had to shove TOWARD my mouth while I hoped that at least half of the massive flaky chip landed INSIDE in spite of the crumble that went all over my hands, face, and shirt. Haha, live and learn.
rip it, rip it good
I did thoroughly wash the kale, and then happened to find a new friend (code for bug) in the ripping process, causing me to literally go back over everysinglestinkinginch of leaf that I had already thrown in the bowl and was about to from then on in order to avoid having an unwanted bug party on my midnight snack. My neuroticism paid off soooo very much, but to be fair, that’s what I get for going organic (give and take, as with anything). Sure, I’ll take a few creatures in the drain to avoid pesticides and other junk! Then, because most of the recipes said to “dry” the kale (which I found to be absolutely redonkulous because 1. leafy veggies are mostly made of water, and 2. I was about to drown them in liquid), I did take a paper towel to the cut pieces in the bowl and blotted away all the excess water. Some versions said to toss with 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil, so being the me that I am, I took my bottle and just drizzled “an exorbitant amount” of oil onto the leaves and tossed them well. Spread them neatly on my Large Bar Pan and as usual, fooled around with all my seasonings. ALL the recipes I read included sea salt so I took my Bamboo Grinder and grated fresh Himalayan and Sea Salt from The Pampered Chef onto the kale.
like a leafy puzzle
On my first batch (I separated the cut leaves into two portions), I also sprinkled a little garlic and herb seasoning (random store brand Kroger somebody, the kitchen now seems so far away to actually go look!), which was absolutely delicious! The second round had three sections with various Pampered Chef seasonings – Southwestern Seasoning, Barbecue, and Thai Red Curry (and a little H&S Salt as well). All three were delicious, but I wanted to lick the part of the pan with the barbecue ones (totally perfect as is), and I will definitely revisit the Red Curry with a few tweaks and additions. Weird that I thought the Southwestern would be my fave since I use it all the time, but maybe I just need to mess with the mix a bit for chips. I put the seasoned kale in my preheated oven at 200 degrees. Left them alone for 40 minutes (that’s not true; I peeked twice), and pulled them out when they weren’t soft and “leafy” to the touch. Although, I did get that fabulous chip-like quality that everyone talked about, mine seemed almost non-existent, like they kind of melted in my mouth with a happy flakiness that I can’t even try to describe. Perhaps I put too much olive oil or didn’t let them dry out enough first, because when cooked, they appeared greasy and flattened (stuck, even) to the Bar Pan. But I found that they slid off easily and weren’t very “greasy” tasting at all. I understand that since leafy vegetables ARE mostly water, once that water is removed, there’s very little left. So it made sense that the pieces shrank and felt so light and airy, but I guess I just assumed they’d be thick and crunchy, like when they’re raw. I did love that light, fluffy crunch, though!
the only shrinkage that’s ok
All I know is that according to the internet (which always tells the truth, right?) there are many ways to achieve the end result, and I believe 100% that it is worth trying. Yes, I’m so late in the game that 3 or 4 MONTHS ago even my favorite blogger The Ranting Chef felt that he was the last person on earth to try kale chips, so I KNOW I’m lagging, but I’m glad I finally caught up. I have always feared random freaky veggies, but there truly are ways to make them fun and tasty, and I am always open to trying something at least once. Sometimes that’s how you find a new favorite food, like I just did with kale chips! Or how you learn that you absolutely hate eggplant with a passion because it’s evil and disgusting, and wish it would become extinct and never grow on this planet again, or whatever happens to unloved plants and vegetables (but that’s another blog entry for another day). So go ahead, brave the unknown green. Dare to venture out and cook something new or try it in a new way, and then of course, don’t forget to share your adventure with all of us… 😉
I’d happily eat them, Sam I Am!