Saturday, April 16, 2011

0 Recipe #263: Oven-Baked Kale Chips, Six Different Ways

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Wanna get your kids to eat their veggies... willingly? ;) Then, make these.

I know, I know. It's kale. :) It's all tough, bitter, and broccoli-cabbage-y tasting. I bet right about now, some of you are probably thinking, "Yuck. How can that taste good as a chip?" To all the naysayers, I say this: I'm telling you, try them before you set your mind against the idea.

Just because you might not like kale in its other forms (raw, steamed, etc.), doesn't mean that you won't like baked kale chips. :) That's because kale tastes totally different after it's been baked to a crisp in the oven. Once baked, they transform into something magnificent. Light and crunchy, and totally "un-kale-like." :) Believe it or not, they taste amazingly similar to a potato chip. I kid you not!

Even those of you who've professed an undying hatred for kale will probably like these. :) So give this recipe a try. Who knows.... After tasting them, you might have to recant your position on this vegetable. ;) You might even become, perish the thought, a kale chip convert, and then, dare I say it, turn into a complete kale chip-a-holic. ;)

So, grab these healthy green chips next time you're looking for a snack, instead of a potato chip. ;) Not only does kale have loads of nutrients and a lot less fat than the average potato chip, but it tastes surprisingly good in chip form. Mind-blowing, even. :)

And, I should probably caution you now: Like potato chips, it's impossible to eat just one. Yeah, they are just a bit addictive. :)

I'd like to thank my mom for this recipe idea. She mentioned it to me the last time I came for a visit, and now I'm really happy that she did.

Oven-Baked Kale Chips, Six Different Ways

Make all six different kinds or just one; it's up to you. Please note that each of the below recipes makes enough for 32 oz. of kale. So, depending on how many different kinds you plan to make at once, you'll need to adjust the amounts for each corresponding recipe accordingly, i.e., in their proper ratios. For example, if you'll be making two of the flavored kinds of chips, like say the za'atar chips and the mesquite chips, first follow the basic recipe template to combine the initial ingredients (i.e., kale, salt, & olive oil), then split the 32 oz. of kale into 2 equal portions, and halve the ingredient amounts for both the za'atar and the mesquite recipes. However, if you wish to make the original, basic template PLUS another chip recipe for a flavored kind, like the salt and vinegar chips recipe, for example, (which will require additional ingredients for only 16 oz. of kale), you'll need to follow the basic template, then halve the 32 oz. of kale into 2 equal portions, and halve only the ingredient amounts for the salt & vinegar chips recipe, since the basic template is supposed to be used for the entire batch. Got it?! :)

If you find all of this divying up to be too complicated, the other way to do this is the following: Buy a 32 oz. bag for each different kind of kale chips you'd like to make. :-D Then, you won't have to worry about modifying recipe amounts. ;) That might sound like a lot of kale, but the kale will shrink a lot after it bakes in the oven. Plus, you'll be surprised how quickly the chips will disappear. :) You'll want to eat more before you know it. ;)

If you are making more than one type of kale chips at a time, be sure to put each different kind on a separate tray, and bake them in batches. If you're lucky enough to have a double oven (i.e., a top & bottom configuration of two ovens), then you'll be able to bake the chips in a lot less batches. Or, if simply you have a standard single oven configuration with two racks, just bake two batches at a time until all of the kale has been used up. It just depends on how many trays you can fit into the oven at once. ;)

Basic Recipe Template (Lightly Salted Kale Chips):
32 oz. bag fresh kale, rinsed, stems & center ribs removed, torn into bite-sized (2") pieces, then spun in a salad spinner until dry, & patted (bone) dry with paper towels*
3/4 tsp. kosher (or sea) salt
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

Za'atar Kale Chips: (Add the following to the basic template):
3 Tbsp. za'atar

Mesquite BBQ Kale Chips: (Add the following to the basic template):
1 1/2 Tbsp. paprika
1/2 Tbsp. cumin powder
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. onion powder
3/4 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
3/4 tsp. tomato powder (if you can find it - optional)
3/4 tsp. dried, crushed rosemary leaves
3/4 tsp. dried marjoram leaves
3/8 tsp. dried sage leaves
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground (dry) mustard
1/2 Tbsp. (dry) palm sugar or jaggery* (if unavailable, use brown sugar as a last resort)

Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips: (Add the following to the basic template):
1 1/2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

Garlic-Parmesan Kale Chips: (Add the following to the basic template):
3 Tbsp. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (and not shredded!)
3 tsp. garlic powder

"Kettle Corn" Kale Chips: (Add the following to the basic template):
2 Tbsp. (dry) palm sugar or jaggery* (if unavailable, use brown sugar as a last resort)

Directions: Add kale to a large bowl. Drizzle with oil and then sprinkle evenly with salt. If you're making one of the flavored kale chip recipes (versus just the basic template), add these additional recipe ingredients now. Using your bare hands (or wear rubber/latex gloves), toss together the ingredients in large, deep bowl. Thoroughly massage salt & oil into the leaves until leaves have been completely coated.

Spread out kale leaves in a single layer onto two large (12" x 17") baking sheets lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper (for easy cleanup). Try not to let the kale pieces touch, as this will create crispier edges. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 15 minutes, or until crisp, completely dry, and brown around the edges. IMPORTANT: If you're making the salt and vinegar chips, you might need to bake the chips for a minute or two longer (16 minutes is probably long enough), since they're going to be a bit wet. Also, watch the garlic-Parmesan chips carefully, as the cheese has a tendency to burn; pull them out a few minutes (or seconds) early if it looks like the cheese is on the verge of burning. Same goes for the "kettle corn" chips. The palm sugar coating tends to burn easily when baked, so you'll probably want to check on them frequently and reduce the baking time to about 12 minutes or so.

Kale chips bake quickly and can burn easily, so watch them carefully as they bake. Since each oven conducts heat a little differently, it's best to play it safe and check the kale chips about half-way through, and then again after around the 12-minute marker, just to make sure they don't burn. When finished, chips should be dark green and not brown. (Kale becomes bitter when it turns brown.)

IMPORTANT: Be sure the chips are completely dry -- not just crisp -- after they are removed from the oven. Otherwise, the chips will become soggy and unpalatable. The drier the chips, the better!

To test for doneness, gentle shake the tray back and forth (horizontally!) after removing chips from the oven; if the chips make a rattling noise and easily release from the tray when shook, they are done. (The mesquite, "kettle corn," and salt and vinegar flavored chips might not rattle as much, as sticky or wet ingredients tend to congeal and thereby cause the chips to the pan. The garlic-Parmesan chips might also stick a little bit, so this is why it's important to use grated Parmesan versus the shredded stuff. ;) )

Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack to cool. Allow chips to completely cool before transferring into any kind of closed storage container. Otherwise, they'll become soggy. Serve and enjoy!

Yield: About 8 c. per 32 oz. bag of kale.

Chef's Notes: A 32 oz. bag might sounds like a lot to eat, but the kale will bake down a lot. And trust me, they'll be gone in no time at all. ;)

These chips are super-addictive, and should probably come with a special advisory. You'll be tempted to stock your fridge with large bags of kale until it bursts. LOL.

Also, if you buy kale packaged in a large bag, you'll still have to remove some of the stalks and tough stem areas first before baking them. You can use a pair of kitchen shears, but in this case, since the kale is already chopped up into minute pices, I find that using your own two hands work best.

Instead of chucking the kale stems and ribs, you can reserve them for future use. Use them for soup, or season them with herbs and spices, steam, and serve as a vegetable side dish. As you can tell, I don't like to let perfectly decent food go to waste. :)

*It's really important to dry the kale as much as possible before putting the leaves into the oven. Wet kale will steam instead of bake. And that's not what you're trying to do in this instance. ;)

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