Challenge of the kale chips

Confession: As a teenager, I did not know people ate kale. Kale repulsed me a bit. I worked at a steakhouse (ironic, eh?) and we used kale only to decorate the dessert case each day. I vaguely remember one of the older customers telling me that it was good to eat, and I probably looked at him like he had three heads. It was a thick leaved, large variety, maybe only sold for decoration purposes. Once in a while we found a big old slug in it, which further decreased my opinion of it.

So, twenty or so years later, I was intrigued about all the “buzz” about kale and how nutritious it is. Then I started reading about kale chips. I figured this was something I could find a way to eat! Here is my best method after several trials (and my usual tribulations)…

  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees. A fairly low temperature for the delicate leaves.
  • Start with 2-3 “stalks” of kale for one large cooking sheet. I use my jelly roll pan, ungreased. Rinse the kale well, tear into your desired chip-sized pieces, making sure to tear it off the center stalk. Discard the stalk.
  • Dry the kale fully. Feel free to use salad spinner, but then you may need quite a bit longer for it to finish air drying. Trust me, this takes a while (seemed like 1-2 hours). From now forward my plan is to wash early in day and cook in the afternoon!
  • In a bowl large enough for the kale (don’t add yet), mix 1-2 Tbsp olive oil–probably closer to the 1 Tbsp for this amount of kale, 1/4-1/2 tsp kosher salt, about 1/8 tsp black pepper, and maybe a dash of garlic powder, or paprika, or seasoned salt. I’ve seen many combinations in the recipes I have read.
  • This is the key–Now place the dry kale leaves in the bowl and mix the oil mixture and the kale with your hands until the leaves are well coated. I found that drizzling the oil over the kale leaves was very uneven and led to overly crispy chips, nearly burned in some places, when I made my first attempt a few months ago.
  • Place the kale leaves on the cookie sheet, without touching each other. Place in the middle rack of oven.
  • Turn the leaves over during cooking after 10 minutes. Cooking time is approximately 20 minutes.

This is the happily coated kale prior to being placed on the cooking sheet.

This was the kale just before cooking. Although it does shrink, I definitely had too much on the pan, which made the chips slightly less crispy.

Most importantly, it tasted quite good and I got a lot of healthful greens in as a late afternoon snack. My husband was eating them so quickly that I had to ask him to stop for a quick picture. So success was obvious there. Younger son was somewhat willing to try them. His comments were less than edifying…”Bad…Well, not that bad.” Hmmm, am I suddenly on American Idol’s premiere of a food episode?

I’ll admit, this is not the most artistic or enticing arrangement of chips. I had to rush an unappreciative child to soccer after all!

Please share if you have any tips for kale chips…any thoughts on how to store them?

P.S. I watched the episode of Dr. Oz from last Thursday. Chia seeds were not featured (see last week’s post). I think I must have seen a bowl of flax seeds in the promo ad. I don’t even know how to begin to summarize the episode (on fat burning). If you are interested, you could check out his website.

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