Monday, June 6, 2011

Meatless Monday: Kale with a Crunch

Crispy, crispy kale leaves, artfully arranged
Kale reigns supreme in the produce aisle right now. Available in several varieties, kale occupies prominent shelf-space in supermarkets year-round, and buying the organic variety will not break the bank. 

My history with kale dates back only as far as September of last year when I bought my first bunch at the farmers’ market. My friend Maggie had been extolling the virtues of kale for some time, and I had finally decided to take the leap. You can read more about how I learned to deal with kale in this post

Kale is both remarkably dense in nutrients and remarkably low in calories. There are a number of links to kale’s health benefits in my earlier post, but to give you an idea of just how ”super” this food is, just compare the nutritional data for one serving of kale chips to that for one serving of potato chips

I have become something of a kale addict and usually pick up a bunch whenever I shop for veggies. Last week at Whole Foods I found a variety I had never seen before. The produce manager urged me to try Lacinato Kale (also known as Dinosaur kale), with long leaves reminiscent of Swiss chard, and passed on some cooking tips. He suggested I purchase a bunch and turn them into kale chips. 

I did. 

I began by googling “kale chips” and found a number of recipes, all virtually identical except for oven temperature, which ranged from 250° to 350°. I opted to try 300°. 

With that change, I pretty much followed this recipe for Tuscan Kale Chips found at Epicurious. [Salad spinner, use of hands, and parchment paper were all my tweaks.]

Preheat your oven to 300°

One bunch of large Dinosaur (AKA Lacinato or Tuscan) Kale 
(Approx. 24 leaves)
One tablespoon good quality olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper 

Carefully wash the kale leaves. 
Cut them lengthwise in half.
Remove all but the thinnest part of the stems. 
Dry thoroughly. (A salad spinner works great.)

In a large bowl, gently mix the kale (Using your hands is good.)
with the seasonings. 

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (if you have some).
Place the leaves on the paper in a single layer.
Bake until crisp, approximately 25 minutes. 
Check at 20 minutes to see how they are doing.
The leaves should be just crisp, and will retain a bit of their green color. 
Gently place the leaves on a rack to cool.

The leaves were tasty, but mild. Not bad at all for a first run. Next time I might try adding a bit of brown sugar as the Neelys do in their version. Additions suggested by other authors include smoked paprika and Parmesan cheese. These toppings should all be mixed in with the olive oil so the leaves absorb the flavors while baking.

My chips up close
Epicurious suggested serving these chips at a cocktail party, but I would nix this idea unless you are dining outside, and only then with good friends. You will find that the tasty leaves shatter on first bite, and that the little bits stick amazing well to your teeth. 

Kids would probably find this funny although I doubt most grownups would. A crispy kale experiment might be a good way to get the younger ones to try something totally new.

Have a good week, and please come back soon.

I try to blog on food or food issues each Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”


  1. Many thanks for the tooth alert!

  2. These are also great with nutritional yeast instead of the salt and pepper. Just sprinkle liberally! Cher