Editor’s Note: A complete step-by-step guide to making kale chips is available on this recent post: Our Favorite Thing to do with Kale: Chips
By Analiese Paik
A member of my CSA sent around a recipe for Tuscan kale chips that had run in Bon Appetit magazine and recommended making them for an unusual yet crispy and satifsying alternative to the usual sauteed or braised kale. I took a quick look at the recipe, and upon discovering that it was by Dan Barber, the chef at Blue Hill, I knew it had to be special. He’s all about fresh, local foods that are minimally manipulated yet incredibly delicious. And I had just been to a tour of Stone Barns and gotten a taste of his food at lunch. The lure was irresistible.
The one crop, other than lettuce, that did well in my backyard garden this summer was Lacinato kale, the very kind the recipe called for. Having lost my entire crop to the bunnies last year, I had my husband build a special wire cage to sit on top of the raised bed to keep them out! So I headed in the backyard, harvested some of my Tuscan Kale (aka dinosaur or black kale), and got to work. Technically, this is the easiest recipe to make, yet it yields an end product that belies its simplicity.
The roasted whole kale leaves, dressed with olive oil and salt, are a beauty to behold, fun to eat, and taste like nothing you’ve had before. The work is in the prep – removing the leaves from them stem. Get your largest kitchen knife and sharpen or hone it before running it down each side of the center rib to remove the leaves.
My only advice on the roasting is that the recipe calls for a 30 minute cooking time and I consistently cook them for only 20 in a convection oven. So set your timer for 20 minutes and if they feel light and crispy and you can smell them, they’re done. The leaves will turn amber and taste bitter if overcooked.
After they cook, pick one up with your fingers, crunch off a piece and enjoy the burst of nutty, salty flavor. Serve them with dinner, snack on them, or pack them in a lunch box. I promise you’ll enjoy them and make them again and again. Maybe you’ll even grow some kale next year! It’s the crop that keeps on giving since you can harvest the leaves from the bottom up and continue to harvest as new leaves emerge from the top.
Interesting variations I haven’t tried yet include sprinkling the kale chips with Parmesan cheese as they finish cooking and dressing them with sesame oil and soy sauce for an Asian rendition. Here’s a link to the original recipe. Store at room temperature and I don’t recommend reheating; they’re too easy to ruin.