You may or may recall that one of my personal goals for this year was to learn to eat (and enjoy) kale, the ultimate nutritional powerhouse vegetable. Kale is a strong and frilly leafy green. Its flavor is bold and a bit bitter, and its texture is tough, almost rubbery. Kale makes most lettuce look like wilted onion layers. For these reasons, kale can be intimidating to many, but kale fans rave about it, so I had to find out what all the buzz was about.
I started out by putting some in my favorite everyday salad. Sometimes I use half kale, half spinach, other times entirely kale! It’s quite good with all the vegetables and homemade dressing, once I let it sit for five or ten minutes to marinate and soften.
Ah, but now a wonderful new world has been opened to me by the vegan Twitter community: the world of easy, homemade, vegan “junk” food. I’m talking, of course, about kale chips. I threw a batch of them together on impulse before heading to work yesterday, and we devoured them all within minutes. Kale chips are more compulsively eatable than popcorn or potato chips. You can flavor them just about any way you like, I imagine, and since they’re made out of kale, you can actually pat yourself on the back (with your seasoning-covered fingers) for munching on them!
This is the informative blog post (with many lovely photos) which inspired my kale-chip-making, linked to me by the fabulous @IEatTrees. I was so impatient to give them a try that I didn’t buy and soak raw cashews, as suggested. Instead, I improvised a cheezey sauce from what I had on hand, and it was delicious! Due to the improvisation, I have no exact measurements for you, but here’s the rough idea.
- a small piece of carrot (about thumb-sized), minced
- minced onion, roughly equal to the carrot
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
- a chunk of strong cheddar Sheese (about the size of a walnut in its shell), chopped in pieces
- a pinch or two of sea salt
- about 3 Tablespoons of nutritional yeast
- about a teaspoon of cayenne pepper
I blended all of this in the mini food processor with a splash of Vanilla Almond Milk, just enough to make a creamy sauce. click on photo of ingredients to enlarge. The sauce tasted like a tangy, spicy, garlicky nacho sauce. (I may have licked the food processor while the kale chips baked.)
I then put the leafy green parts of an entire bunch of kale (washed and torn into pieces) into a large bowl, added the “nacho sauce”, and stirred until everything was coated, while the oven warmed to 200. (Ideally, kale chips are dried in a dehydrator, and are actually raw, but I don’t have a dehydrator, so I have to use my oven.)
Then I spread the cheesey kale leaves onto a baking sheet and popped them in the oven. I kept peeking at them, worried they would burn (or not be baked in time for me to try them before work.) I actually ended up turning the heat up to 350 to hurry them up. I haven’t quite figured out the prime baking duration or temperature, but they’ll go through a chewy, fried-spinach phase before drying (or shriveling) into thin, crispy leaves coated in flavor.
We got impatient and pulled ours out after about 25 minutes, but the ones that did become crisp were fantastic! (Even the still-chewy ones were very tasty, but the crispiest are best.) Imagine a nacho chip that dissolves on your tongue, leaving only the seasonings behind. Yeah. It doesn’t matter how green, healthy, or strangely shaped they are –anyone who tries these will be hooked. You’ll gobble down the whole tray full and wish you’d made more. As for being healthy, these are packed with Vitamin A and C, iron, calcium, amino acids, B vitamins, protein, and riboflavin, and they are anti-inflammatory. All that in a chip that tastes much better than a Dorito! By the way, these go really well with a glass of vanilla almond milk.
Have you perfected the oven-baked kale chip? What flavor would you suggest for my next batch of kale chips?