I got home from work one day this past week to find a letter in the mail from mom. Well, no "letter" exactly - sometimes she'll scribble a brief note on a scrap piece of paper, but this one was more like what I get from mom - just a clipped out article folded up and stuffed in the envelop. And this one was a real interesting one - a recipe for kale chips! I'd mentioned to my folks recently that I still have a surplus of kale and Swiss chard growing in the garden - I don't know if mom remembered that when she saw the article, or if she just thought I'd find it interesting. Either way, super handy timing!
So the author of the article had compared a bunch of different recipes she'd heard about for making kale chips, and boiled them down to her own version. You start with fresh, clean, dry kale...easy enough - I ran out to the garden and collected a bowl full of leaves. Did I wash 'em? Nahhhh...we've had a lot of rain this week, and I know my kale's never been exposed to any chemicals. I cut out the midribs, per the instructions, and used that time to also do a bug check. Nope, no bugs! The kale is then cut or torn to whatever size you like.
You want to make sure your kale is really dry - so if you washed it, toss it in a salad spinner, or blot it really well with kitchen towels. Then drizzle some olive oil over it, and keep tossing and turning it in the bowl until the leaves are lightly coated - it really doesn't take much oil to do this!
Let's pretend I already told you to get that oven pre-heated to 350. You've done that, right? Good.
Lay your glistening kale leaves out on a pan in a single layer. Can they touch? Yup! Should they overlap? Nope! They're going to shrink, but you want to make sure they cook fairly evenly. Trust me, if you try to chew a piece that DIDN'T cook right, you'll know it - it'll be chewy. It's like getting an undercooked tortilla chip when you go out for Mexican - not cool.
Now you can season the kale leaves however you like - kosher salt is a must. The article also listed other options like sea salt, Parmesan cheese, bee pollen (yeah, right), garlic salt, maple syrup, etc... Seriously, the sky's the limit. For my first tray I just did salt. With the second I did salt and chili powder, which was a nice combo!
Now bake these suckers for about 10-15 minutes - I think it depends on the thickness of the leaves more than anything? Oh, and their curliness - my leaves that were more curly/bumpy/savoy didn't cook nearly as fast as the flatter parts... And you definitely don't want this stuff to overcook - it turns a little bitter (voice of experience!). Start checking around 10 minutes...my first batch took close to 15 minutes, my second was a LITTLE overdone at 13.
Here's a trays worth of kale chips - these things are SO crispy and crackly. They cool almost as soon as you take them out of the oven - so you can start eating right away. Doogie heard me crunching on them from the other room, came running, and loooved them.
Like I said, these are really crackly crisp - extremely fragile, so don't expect to find these for sale in the grocery store already cooked up. You're either gonna love 'em or you're gonna hate 'em! I'd say they're reminiscent of the nori seaweed used to wrap sushi rolls.... Oh, and the flavor/texture will most likely also vary depending on the variety of kale you use. I have dinosaur kale, which just has a very earthy-tasting look to it...
I have to warn you - if you DO like kale chips, they go down REAL easy. Just be careful with how much fiber you're snacking on! ;-)
Thanks for the recipe mom!