how to make crispy kale chips (a gluten-free, dairy-free recipe for healthy, crunchy snacks)

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Last week our neighbor gave us a huge bunch of kale, and Jafta immediately begged me to make some kale chips.  He is in love with this veggie-based savory snack, so I was happy to oblige.

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My neighbor’s kale variety is called dinosaur kale.  Personally, I’m more a fan of the curly kale variety . . . I find it less bitter and a bit more sweet.  But for kale chips, any kind will do.

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Step one – remove the kale from the stalk.

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Step 2: destem the kale.  This step isn’t mandatory – I just prefer the light, crispy texture of the leaf.  To destem, simply cut the large part of the stem out of the middle.  It’s so easy even a child can do it.  Really.

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Jafta was so excited to be using a “grown-up” knife for the first time.  He cut and destemmed that entire bunch of kale, stopping occasionally to thank me sincerely for giving him that privilege. 

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Once the kale is destemmed and cut into bite-size pieces, you want to wash it well AND THEN DRY IT.  That last step is crucial to avoid soggy kale.  I use a salad spinner and blot the kale with paper towels, and if it’s a warm day I’ll set it in the sun for a half hour to make sure it’s dry.

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Once dry, the hard part is over.  Spread a single layer of kale onto a cookie sheet lined with Silpat Non-Stick Silicone If you don’t have Silpat, you can oil the pan or cook on wax paper.  (But really, why don’t you have Silpat?  Such a worthy investment that makes baking so much easier.)  Spray each kale piece lightly with olive oil.  You can use an Oval Oil Sprayer Bottle,.or Pam has an organic olive oil spray found in grocery stores. This should be a very light spray – too much and you risk them being soggy.  Flip, and spray again.  EVER SO LIGHTLY salt the kale.  It will really shrink as it cooks so it’s easy to oversalt.  I prefer using garlic salt.  If you want, you can also sprinkle it with grated parmesan or nutrional yeast.

Pop it into an oven preheated to 350.  It’s hard to give an exact time because it depends on the size of the kale pieces, so check at 5 minutes and then every 2 minutes thereafter.  You’ll know it’s done when the kale feels papery to the touch.

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Confession: my kids ate that entire stalk of kale chips in one sitting.  They really are that good. 

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Just a tip, though.  If you send some to school with your kids, you might want to label the baggie so it’s not mistaken for something illegal.

Getting kale chips right can take some trial and error.  If it doesn’t work out the first time, keep trying.  It’s a delicate vegetable and getting the oil and salt and cook time perfectly balanced can take some experience, but it will be worth it for the salty, crunchy, guilt-free taste!


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