Kale. Its a vegetable we all know we should be eating more of, one of those superfoods that frequent top 10 lists for cancer fighting vegetables, pictured on nutritional charts and in countless magazine articles. But I've noticed a lot of people aren't real comfortable with kale, not really sure what to do with it. If you are a fan of the 100 mile diet or a regular farmers market shopper you have already come up close and personal at some point in the year when this is only green in a sea of root vegetables. But if you are shopping at the supermarket, you are likely grabbing the familiar spinach than the curly strange bunches of kale at the back of the produce case. Maybe you know you should be eating more of it, but not really sure what to do with it? Well, tomorrow pick yourself up a fresh, healthy looking bunch or two and make some of these! You'll find yourself devouring an entire bunch alone and for the parents out there, you might even convince your kids these are better than potato chips. Let this be your gateway to these beautiful winter greens.
Baking these hardy greens produces that satisfying crunch that manufactures of snack products all over the world constantly try to create. A slight rub of olive oil, a scattering of seasoning and these are better than popcorn to me. In fact some people grind and sprinkle it on popcorn. The fact that this is indeed health food is beside the fact. These are tasty tasty greens. Each time I roast a batch of these I'm amazed at the way they shatter in my mouth and my need to devour handfuls of them. They are smokey and savoury and slightly unexpected but definitely additive and I've found a sure way to get any hater of green vegetables to turn over a new leaf. Pun intended!
This recipe can easily be doubled, but use one baking tray per bunch. Rotate sheets during baking.
While any variety of kale will work, the curly varieties takes particularly well to the crisping technique; more edges to crisp up.
1 bunch curly kale
~4 tsp olive oil
3/4 tsp kosher salt
pepper, preferably white or optional spices, see below
Fill the sink with cold water and swish it around really well, checking the curls of the leaves for unwanted critters. Drain the water. With the underside of the leaves upright, pinch back the leaves on either side of the stem using your thumb and forefinger and pull in the direction of the bottom of the stem. The leaves should strip away quite easily. This can also be done by running the point of a pairing knife along the side of the ste, but by hand works faster.
Lay the leaves in a single layer on a towel and roll up. Leave on the counter for 10-15 minutes to get rid of as much water on the leaves as possible.
Preheat oven to 325. Lay the dried leaves on a unlined baking sheet and pour the olive oil on top. Using your hands rub the leaves with the olive oil to get a good coating. You don't need alot of oil here, just a consistent coating. Sprinkle on the salt and pepper.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes. Check on them periodically and move around any leaves that are on top of each other to stop steaming and encourage crisping. They are done when nicely curled, dark green and just starting to brown in places and they feel dry and crispy. Use your hands to check for doneness. Cool on the pan on a cooling rack and serve in a bowl. These are best eaten within a couple hours of baking.
Salt : This is a great recipe to try some of those specialty salts you might have. I usually make these with hickory smoked salt which enhances the roasted flavour of the vegetable. Or use any salts blended with herbs or spices.
Oil: This is also a great place to play around with flavoured oils, such as garlic or lemon.
Spices: Be creative and toss on some spice blends, such as harissa or ground chiles along with the salt. Even a sprinkling of this would be lovely with kale.
And if you find yourself taking a liking to kale, try this other kale recipe: