Local Food and Seasonal Ingredients

A Healthy Obsession With Kale

By Seth Fera-Schanes

I have noticed a rise in kale related conversations over the past few years.  This hardy green isn’t new to the market but has found its way into menus across the city.

A standout feature of kale is its versatility.  The preparation range spans from raw in salad up to a soup where it is literally boiled for hours and still tastes good.  It is an amazing vegetable.

At a certain point someone must have asked just how far we can push the ‘kale envelop’ and started drying them into chips.  You can find these commercially produced snacks in markets around the city and always carrying a premium price.  Yet with an abundance of the raw ingredient reasonably priced at farmers markets and grocery stores, why not save a few dollars and make your own?

Making kale chips can be reduced to one simple step: dry them out at low heat in an oven for about 20-30 minutes.  To be fair, there is some initial work that I will detail below but for around $3 you can have a great snack you made and can control any additional ingredients.

Step 1: Choose your kale.  I like to use Red Russian and Tuscan Kale because they are relatively flat and dry evenly.  However, don’t hesitate to work with different kale varieties or whatever is fresh at the market.

Red Russian Kale Chips

Red Russian Kale Chips

Step 2: Wash and dry the kale.  Sometimes there will be residual dirt on the leaves (especially if it is local) but that is how food grows so simply take a minute to run it under cold water and remove any excess earth.  Then using a salad spinner or paper towels, dry the leaves.  Drying is important so take a few minutes to make sure it is done correctly.

Kale with Truffle Oil and Sea Salt

Kale Chips with Black Truffle Oil and Fumee De Sel

Step 3: Remove the stem.  You should cut off any of the lower stem without a leafy part.  You can take this further and remove the part of the stem that runs up the middle of the leaf.  An easy method is to fold a leaf in half lengthwise exposing the stem on the backside.  Then using a paring knife slice along the stem about 3/4 way up to remove.  You don’t have to make two separate pieces and can have one full leaf connected at the top.  I typically do this for leaves with thick stems, because it is easier to eat after drying.

Step 4: Preheat oven to 250 F degrees.

Step 5:  While oven is heating up place prepared kale leaves in a bowl and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.  You can substitute with a flavored oil such as Black Truffle Oil, Hot Sesame Oil, etc. depending on your preference.  With tongs or your hands, gently toss the leaves so they are evenly coated with the oil.

Step 6: Lay leaves out flat on a baking sheet.  Do not over overlap.  You will probably use two baking sheets for this.  Add a little salt (to taste.)  You can also use flavored salts.  I like a smoked sea salt which adds some great complimentary flavors to the chips.

Step 7:  Place in preheated oven and allow to dry for 20-30 minutes.

Step 8:  Remove and enjoy.  These are best eaten the day they are made but can last a day or two in a sealed container.

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