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December 09, 2011

Grazing: Eat More Kale Chips

Kale_1Though 'Kalegate' may have grown quiet for the moment, soon hundreds — if not thousands — of people will be wandering around in brand-new Eat More Kale (and Team Kale) T-shirts made by Bo Muller-Moore, whose orders have exploded during his well-publicized ordeal with Chick-fil-A. 

In solidarity with Muller-Moore, or even just to live up to the slogan across their chests, some Vermonters might be trying to, well, eat more kale. But despite its wholesome image and wealth of vitamins and phytonutrients, the leafy cabbage also suffers from the stigma of tasting bitter. 

Fortunately, there's more than one way to cook a head of kale and capture its intensity while lessening its unsavory qualities. Gov. Peter Shumlin likes to cut kale's bitterness by sautéeing it in chicken broth, olive oil and garlic.

An even easier way is to bake its leaves into crispy, waferlike chips that are so addictive, you'll be tempted to eat most of them straight from the pan. Baking the leaves with olive oil and salt performs an alchemical act, transforming them into crunchy treats with an earthy, smoky flavor. Beats potato chips any day. I like to season baked kale the same way I do popcorn: with sea salt, garlic powder and cumin, or even a grating of fresh Parmesan cheese.

Baked Kale Chips

One head of kale (preferably curly, but Lacinato works, too)
Splash of extra-virgin olive oil 
Sea salt
Any other preferred seasoning, such as chile, cumin, garlic powder or grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Rinse and dry the kale, then tear the leaves into pieces with your fingers and pile onto a flat baking sheet. (With Lacinato, I tear the leaves away from the spine, as it can stay hard after being baked.) Splash two glugs of EVOO over the leaves and toss so they're evenly coated. Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet and sprinkle sea salt across the top. Bake until crispy, about 15 to 20 minutes. Once they're out of the oven, sprinkle the kale lightly with cumin and garlic powder, and crunch away.

Definitely take the leaves off the stems with any variety of kale; the stems are not good eats. No need for the oil, either, though I dose mine lightly with Braggs and red pepper flakes or southwest seasoning. Don't over-crowd the pan; the single layer is important otherwise they'll steam rather than bake, and you're looking to remove the moisture. I prefer 250°F for 30 minutes, less risk of burning the chips.

Kale chips ARE addictive. We use kale in soups, stir fries or steam it and eat it straight. Kale that has been through a frost or two gets a sweetness to it. Too much kale? Blanch and freeze! Go Bo!

Carmen, we actually skipped the blanching step with no ill effects. Put up about 30 bags of the stuff this year, which makes its way into soups and sides for many months. We heart kale!

We tried the recipe tonight and the kale chips were light and delicious.

Can't wait to try this recipe! Who knew?
Go Bo!

Thanks for the tips, Josh. Glad you liked them, David!

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