At our house, summer kale gets ignored when there are so many other vegetables to enjoy. Its flavour is a little strong until the cold weather hits and it sweetens up.
But kale chips are another story. These are tasty, crispy, salty, and the pungency only adds to the experience. We can never have too much kale now, and it’s a good thing we have a bed of winter kale coming along as well.
Step One: Wash and Dry the Kale
- Wash the kale well.
- If the leaves are large, strip out the thick rib by holding the end in one hand, and with the other hand, put your first and second fingers on either side of the rib. Pull along the rib and the leafy part will come off. Simple. Discard the ribs.
- Tear the leafy sections into chip-sized pieces and drop them in your salad spinner.
- Spin dry.
You can do all of this step the day before you bake the chips if it’s more convenient. If so, keep the spinner in the fridge until you’re ready for the next step.
Step Two: Coat the Kale with Oil
- Mix 1/2 teaspoon of salt (more or less to your taste) and a tablespoon of olive oil.
- Put the kale in a pile on your baking tray and pour the oil over top.
- Use your hands to massage the oil onto all of the kale pieces so that they are coated with the salty oil.
- Spread the kale in a single layer on the baking sheet. If you pile the pieces on top of each other, they won’t crisp up properly. One batch may require two or three trays.
Step Three: Bake
- Preheat the oven to 300 F. I try to make kale chips after I’ve done some other baking so the oven is already hot. That saves energy costs.
- Put the trays of kale in the heated oven and set the timer for 10 minutes.
- After the 10 minutes are up, without opening the oven door, shut off the heat and set the timer for 20 more minutes.
- Check for crispness. If any pieces overlapped and are still soft, separate them and put the tray back in for another five minutes. You shouldn’t need to turn the heat back on.
- Serve and enjoy your crispy, flaky, tangy, delicious, nutritious kale chips.
This Is Where You Get Creative
Once you know how to make basic kale chips, you can play with the flavors. You’ll do this for fun, but you also might do it because you find the chips taste a little too strong for your kids. Cool season kale is sweet, but summer kale can be a little pungent. Cold weather is what brings out the sweet flavor. No problem. Adding a little tang or spice to the oil solves that. Try any of these variations and see what you come up with:
- Use garlic or onion salt instead of regular salt.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar to the oil.
- Add 1 teaspoon lemon juice to the oil. Sprinkle the coated leaves with freshly ground black pepper.
- Add 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder to the oil. Throw in some lime zest if you want to.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of tamari soy sauce to the oil. Adjust the amount of salt if necessary.
- Add 1 teaspoon or more of your favorite Asian spice mixture to the oil.
- Sprinkle the oil-coated leaves with Parmesan or asiago cheese before they go in the oven.
- Sprinkle the oil-coated leaves with sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds before you bake them.
I think you get the idea. The possibilities are quite unlimited. So are the funky names you can think up to make them taste even better!
Here’s a twist I tried last night – Nutty Gold Kale Chips. It was wonderful!
In my food chopper, I ground up:
- 1/4 cup raw pecans
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric. (Ginger and turmeric have anti-inflammatory properties.)
I added this mix to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. I thought the paste might be too thick to work with, but it was actually easy to massage onto the kale. I baked this the same way as the basic kale chips. Warm from the oven these were unbelievably good.