Although I generally like many leafy greens which are so important to our diet, I can’t say kale was one of my favourites until I discovered kale chips. Now I could enjoy a whole bunch, get my crunchy-salty snack fix in, and feel good about it!
Dietitian Leslie Beck named kale January 2011’s “featured food” because it’s a nutrition powerhouse: good for your heart, eyes, mind, bones, and more!
You can use any kind of kale for this recipe. The most commonly found variety in the grocery store produce section is curly kale, sold fresh by the bunch. I have also made it with the flat-leaved dinosaur kale that I have grown, which is a little stronger-tasting. Use organic if you can find it.
Fold each piece of kale in half, holding the stem in one hand. With the other hand, rip the leaves off the stem, then tear them into pieces about 2″ x 2″. Pile into a large bowl. Note: If you tear it much smaller, it may burn since it cooks so quickly! Save little bits to toss in with soups or a stir fry. (And you can boil up the stems and strain to get some nutritious vegetable broth. I store the water used to cook my vegetables in small jars in the freezer to use in soup bases).
Preheat the oven to 350 F. If you use a convection oven, you may want to lower that by 15-25 degrees.
Sprinkle with a little garlic powder (about 1/4 tsp) and about 1/2 tsp of other seasonings. I like Club House Roasted Peppers & Garlic, or you can try cumin and curry powder — experiment! Add a dash or two of salt if desired, but remember that its high mineral content actually gives kale a bit of natural salty taste. Toss the spices around a bit through the kale with your hands.
Then drizzle with about 2 tsp light exta-virgin olive oil. Toss the leaves around and massage the oil evenly into the leaves. Add up to 2 tsp more oil if you think it needs it, but you really only want a very light coating on the leaves. The amount of oil really depends on how big your head of kale is.
Spread the coated leaves out onto two large cookie sheets. I prefer to line mine with parchment paper to prevent the chips from sticking to the pan and I think it results in less burning. Try not to overlap the pieces and spread out any curled-up leaves if possible. Be prepared: they are going to shrink quite a bit!
Put the baking sheets in the oven, staggering them on the racks. Bake for about 5 minutes. Then take them out and flip the chips around, shifting pieces from the middle to the outside and try to lay any curled-up bits flat. You may even need to remove some small pieces now if they are done. You want them crisp but not brown.
Put the trays back in the oven, switching them on the racks. Cook for another couple of minutes. They will cook faster and more evenly in a convection oven. Watch them carefully because at this point they can burn quickly!
Take them out and cool for a few minutes before sliding the chips off into a bowl. Enjoy! If you can resist eating them all at once, they will keep in an air-tight plastic container for a day or two, but they may soften a bit.
They are good crumbled as a topping on a casserole (after cooking it) or as a crunchy side dish with a meal too.
We were so eager to dig in, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product until we’d eaten half of them. This is what was left.