Monday, July 18, 2011

All Hail the Mighty Kale

According to Wikipedia, "kale is considered to be the most nutritious vegetable in the world." It is also pretty easy to grow, and was a popular plant to cultivate in little box gardens when I lived in San Francisco. (It thrived on our patio despite my roommates' best efforts to the contrary.) Even so, I don't believe I had ever actually tried kale until a wine tasting at work during which we were served kale chips. 

"Kale chips?" I thought. "Who on earth thinks of these things?" The same people who thought to dry seaweed and wrap it around rice, I suppose, as kale chips are quite similar in taste and texture to dried strips of nori

The first step to making kale chips is getting yourself some kale. Some grocery stores sell it in bags much like pre-cut lettuce for salads, but if you buy it from the farmers market like I did, or pick it from your own garden, you will need to rinse and chop the leaves yourself. (Not hard.) 

Once you have the chopped kale all together in a large mixing bowl, drizzle on enough olive oil to coat the leaves, but do not saturate them. Then sprinkle on some salt, toss, sprinkle on a little more salt (salt to taste), and toss again. 

Next comes the tricky part: baking. Spread the kale thinly on a cookie sheet. Thinly is the key here. If the leaves are too bunched together, they won't crisp. Do bear in mind, though, that the kale will shrink some as it loses moisture. Bake at 350 degrees for between 10 and 15 minutes. The edges should be slightly brown. 

Another word of warning. When I made these, they were crispy and delicious fresh from the oven and for some time after. Once I put them in Tupperware and transported them to another location, however, they turned soggy and were slightly less tasty. If you make kale chips, I suggest baking them at the location where you intend to consume them.

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