The Weston A. Price Way

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Favorite Summertime Snack: Oven-fried Kale Crisps!

It may be quite close to the last thing I'd have ever thought I'd put in my mouth, let alone like when I did. Oven-fried kale has blown me away with its 'likeableness', combining the best of melt-in-your-mouth saltiness and crispiness.

When I was first introduced to the concept by a gluten-free mom, I was doubtful...highly doubtful. It is only rarely that I have a taste for kale or any of its cousins, so I have to admit, the only draw about the conversation I was overhearing and then butting into was the fact that I had more kale than I knew what to do with. And then there was her claim that her children loved it. Add that to the video I had watched the week before, as Robyn O'Brien's, (author of "The Unhealthy Truth"), kids ran indoors to a lunch consisting of healthy foods, with bowls of this as one focal point...Well, I figured this was a conversation meriting a good ear.

So, I listened well and the directions were so simple I decided it was worth a go. Especially since I knew in my heart that our excess kale would otherwise be on it's way out the back door to the chickens.

I loved it. My husband loved it. The grandkids? That's a split, but two of the four that I care for are quite young and just starting to try new things. (As a matter of fact, to show how tastes change, one of my grand-daughters who has emphasized repeatedly that she does not like my bread, decided this past week that it is...and I quote..."the best bread in the whole world!") So, I will try the kale with the younger ones at a later date.

I believe most people call these 'Kale Chips', but they aren't really like chips because chips don't melt in your mouth. These do. They are light, not chewy, wonderfully salty...and you can play with flavor combinations at will. If you've been following me, you know how I like recipes that allow room for exploration. Well, this is one of them. I choose to call them 'Kale Crisps' because they are crispy, but not really 'chippy'.

There are many recipes to be found for this oven-fried kale, and I am going to give you the most simple and then some variations.

~Heat Oven to 350 degrees.
~Wash kale well. Pat dry with paper towels. (Idea: This part may be done ahead of time. If you opt to do this, store them in the fridge until you're ready for the next step. Layer between paper towels to keep them dry.)

~For the next step, you have a choice to make. You may not want to eat the middle vein of the crisps when they're done, although I have seen many do so with much gusto. We don't like the chewiness so we just eat around them...sort of like eating around the popsicle stick in a popsicle.  But if you would rather pick up a handful at a time or pop them in your mouth without having to eat around this center, you'll need to take a little extra time beforehand to tear the leaves off the stems on both sides, discarding the stems. You can further tear leaves into bite-sized pieces if you like.

~Now, use your choice of GOOD oil. Canola oil is considered to be 'The Great Con-ola' by The Weston A. Price Foundation. I don't recommend it. I do recommend a good olive oil or better yet, organic, unrefined, coconut oil in it's liquid state. (If your house is cooler, coconut oil will be solid much like vegetable shortening, another item we no longer use. At room temp or a bit above, coconut oil turns liquid.)

~Arrange the kale leaves or pieces on a cookie sheet so you can see how many you'll be using. ~Then, brush both sides with the oil. I used to put my oil in a bowl, then applied to the leaves with a basting brush. Once, I couldn't find my basting brush and rather than take the time for an all-out search, I poured the oil directly onto the cookie sheet, rubbed each side of each leaf in it, and was done. I found that doing it this way made it easier to get into the 'nooks and crannies' of curly kale leaves. I don't bother with the basting brush, (which I did find later), anymore.

~Once your leaves are well oiled, place the cookie sheet in the preheated oven. Cook 7-10 minutes on each side. You may need to go a little longer or shorter, depending on your oven's temperament. What you want to watch for is an olive green-to-brown color. Darker brown is crispier, but it doesn't take long to go from brown to black, so keep a keen eye! After the first side is ready, take out, gently flip over, and bake the other side. 

~When done, I place the leaves on a paper towel to absorb extra oil, but I don't pat them because they are a little fragile now, especially the browner ones. If I am using a good oil, which I am, I don't fret over the fat because it's good fat that helps my body assimilate all the goodness within the food I'm ingesting. It is, itself, nutrient-dense, so it's a win-win situation.
~As soon as possible out of the oven, salt the crisps. Add a little pepper if you like, and get ready to enjoy a truly healthy snack or side dish. But be forewarned, one cookie sheet will most likely not be enough.

~Thinking of Taking an Alternate Route? Read these ideas or come up with your own variations:

Grated Parmesan Cheese dusts the tops-Yummy!
~Add Parmesan Cheese after salting.
~Mix your oil with some quality vinegar-try raw. Explore vinegar varieties, too!
~Play with oil varieties...See "Nourishing Traditions" or the Weston A. Price Foundation for the best choices.

Is this not a new idea for you? Do you make yours differently? Have you heard of other ways to try it? Please leave your comment...Inquiring minds want to know! ;)

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