Kale Chips? Kale Yeah!

It seems that people either love kale or hate it. I've heard folks say that it tastes like feet or that it's bitter. But I disagree. I love kale.

One of my favorite things to do with kale is make kale chips. It's incredibly easy to make light and crispy kale chips, which are way healthier than potato chips. They're the perfect snack; and in fact, I made this batch to bring along with me on my flight to Miami last week. It beats eating a palm-full of tiny pretzels, and it certainly beats paying for airplane snacks. 

So how do you make kale chips? It's so simple. Here's what you need:

  • One bunch of kale
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cheese to grate on top (optional) -- I used the remaining piece of Parmesan wedge that I grated into my lemony risotto with kale and radishes
  • Baking sheet(s) 

Step 1: Wash and dry the kale. Oh, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Washing kale is important (just like washing farm fresh lettuce and any other produce). But more importantly, make sure you dry your kale very well. If your kale is wet, your chips will come out soggy after baking. And you want these chips to be crispy! Also, while you're washing and drying your kale, preheat your oven so that it's hot and ready for you.

(Here's a tip: Use a salad spinner. I can't tell you how much I LOVE my salad spinner, and during the CSA season, I use it every day.) 

Step 2: Remove the stems and tear the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces. 

Now bite-sized for me might be slightly larger than bite-sized for you. But there's no right or wrong here. Just take your fingers and start tearing the dry kale leaves into pieces. Remember, these will shrivel up a little during the baking process. Kinda like Shrinky Dinks. 

Step 3: Put the kale in the bowl and coat with a little bit of EVOO. 

Dump all the pieces of kale in a mixing bowl and pour a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil ("EVOO" as Rachael Ray would say) on the leaves. Then take your hand and mix it up so that all of the kale has some EVOO.  This will add to the flavor and give the chips a nice bite.

Step 4: Arrange your EVOO-dressed kale leaves onto a baking sheet or two.

When you place your kale on the baking sheets, do so in one layer. You want to give each piece it's own space. Crowding the kale won't allow them to get the perfect crisp on the edges. 

I usually do two baking sheets' worth of kale chips. But if I want to make a LOT of chips, I'll bake them in batches. (Nothin' wrong with that!)

Step 5: Salt and pepper (and cheese) to taste! 

After the leaves make their way to the baking sheets, I sprinkle salt and pepper all over the kale. And, if I'm feeling especially ambitious and desirous of more flavor, I'll take whatever cheese I have available and grate it all over the kale. For this batch, I used the last bit of a Parmesan wedge that was in the refrigerator. In the past, I've grated Gruyère on top. But don't use pre-shredded, processed cheese. That stuff's not so good and definitely won't melt right on the kale. (Believe me. I tried it and failed.)

Step 6: Bake it, baby. 

Once you've salt-and-peppered (and cheesed) the kale to your liking, it's time to stick it in your 350 degree oven. Bake it for about 10 minutes, but be sure to check it at the five minute mark. (It's always a good idea to take a peek.)

I like my kale chips extra crispy. In fact, I like the edges toasted. Sometimes, I'll leave the kale in the oven for 20-30 seconds extra just to get that additional crunch. 

Step 7: Plate, serve, and eat. 

Or don't plate. I tend to eat the chips as soon as they come out of the oven. Only 75 percent of what I bake actually gets served. I eat about a quarter of the batch as I scoop them off the baking sheets. Once you pop a kale chip, you can't stop.