I was not a fan of the dark leafy green when I was a child. Raw, cooked… all I could ever think was soggy, slimy, bitter, and GROSS! There we only a couple of instances where I would tolerate the greens.
My mother would buy pre-made mini quiches’. The Quiche had very small amounts of spinach but it was mixed with egg and a buttery crust, easily disguised. My Nona Mary use to make a Quiche like dish without the crust, also consisting of eggs and spinach; again the dark green vegetable disguised by mass amounts of eggs and cheese. My grandmother would mix raw spinach with her salads and toss with oil, red wine vinegar, and a little salt and pepper. There was something about the vinegar that helped cut the bitterness for me and it became no different from “salad”. As years passed, darker more robust greens began showing themselves in produce isles. Kale and chard were frequenting my family’s kitchens. My grandmother’s favorite method to cooking kale is reducing it in a pan with olive oil, chopped fresh garlic, kosher salt, pepper, and a couple of tablespoons of parmesan cheese to finish. I can say now, that it’s pretty good… my tastes buds have definitely changed since I was a kid and I’m much more open to trying new things.
Now that I have a child of my own, and he’s moving into his “toddler 2’s”, I see the challenges parents have in getting their children to eat. As a baby he ate everything we put in front of him. Now, he has his moments where he’ll eat everything we give him for a week straight and then the next week everything is “yucky”. I’ve got to stay one step ahead of him to ensure he’s getting the nutrition he needs. He is also a very active little boy so smart healthy snacks in between meals is key. I’ve seen Kale chips in the store, and seen posts about them on the internet, but never thought to try them till now. Baked, fried, coated in oil or dipped in batter, there are several different versions of this “chip”. Since I am seeking a healthy snack option for my family I opted for the baked version and light seasoning.
After testing the recipe I can see why Kale is used as a chip. It’s a hearty leaf, strong in both texture and taste. When baked it becomes light and crispy… it almost dissolves in your mouth as you devour an entire head of Kale…much like what I did while testing the different versions. One of the original recipes I found called for olive oil. Anything I can cook with olive oil, I will try to cook it with tallow. See my tallow series for more information. Between the two test batches (2 heads of kale), I had devoured them by the next day. And, although they don’t keep for very long they are still good for a couple of days after given proper storage. I recommend keeping them in a clean paper bag. This will whisk any moisture away from the chips allowing for crispy snacks for a couple of days. It takes 15 minutes to cook and 15 minutes to prep. They are easy enough to make a couple of times a week, allowing you healthy snacks all week-long. AND… making your own is a huge cost savings. I pay less than a $1 per head of kale, with a sprinkle of salt, oil, parmesan, you’re still under the $5.00 a small 2 oz bag costs at Whole Foods.
The recipe provided here calls for tallow but you can use any other oil to your liking, drop for drop. The seasonings can be adjusted as well. Like spicy, add a dash of cayenne. Like vinegar, add a splash before baking. Have a special seasoning you like to add to nuts or other snack items… add it here before baking. The options seem endless… remember to eat your greens!
* = Organic
*^ = Organic / Local
Baked Kale Chips (w/ tallow)
15 minutes, 400 degrees
1 head kale *^
2 tablespoons tallow, melted *^
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated (rbst free)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Prep a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Trim 1 head of kale, removing the fibrous stems, and breaking the leaves in uniform pieces.
Rinse and dry thoroughly. I use a salad spinner to help remove more water. In a bowl combine kale leaves, salt, parmesan cheese, and melted tallow.
With your hands, combine all ingredients, rubbing the tallow (or oil of your choice) into the leaves. Take care that all the leaves are covered. This takes just a minute or two at most.
Spread the coated leaves out on the parchment covered cookie sheet. Make sure the leaves are in one layer. If they are overlapping the leaves will not crisp. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and set the time for 8 minutes. After the 8 minute timer, remove the cookie sheet and give the leaves a quick toss. Place the cookie sheet back in the oven and set the timer for another 8 minutes. Keep a close eye on your kale making sure the leaves don’t burn. If you notice leaves starting to brown too quickly, remove them otherwise your batch will become bitter. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and set aside allowing the kale chips to cool. Pour into a bowl and serve with a side of salsa… yes, salsa… although they will melt in your mouth, the kale chip can withstand a spicy chunky salsa too! Enjoy!!