Sunday, September 28, 2014

Awesome Sesame Kale Chips

I never thought of kale chips as being difficult, but when I brought a bowl to a party everyone ooohed- and aaaahhed and said they had trouble making good ones. I must have lucked into a great recipe from the beginning. The chips are crispy, melt-in-your-mouth perfection (and this is coming from a certified kale hater). By the way, even if you are a kale hater, you should go ahead and try growing it anyway. It's easy and you can hide kale in a lot of things to take advantage of the health benefits without having to taste it straight-up. But these chips make kale the star, and they are awesome and addictive.

Making these is easy, but because they're so very wafer-thin it does take a pretty big batch to make enough to bring to a party. That gets a little bit time-consuming, as I end up having to do two separate batches in the oven, but it's worth it for how enjoyable these are. You can make two different flavors with different seasonings, or keep it simple and go with the soy sauce/sesame option described here.

I have successfully made these using kale leaves of different varieties, and also broccoli leaves. The latter is awesome because I find broccoli leaves (at least, from the variety we grew this year) rather unpalatable in any other preparation (e.g., in stir-fries), and the plants make a LOT of leaves. Other directions say to cut the leaves from the ribs. I do that for the biggest leaves only, where the ribs start to look like they're more than about 2-3 mm in diameter.

Kale leaves of a very curly variety. All kinds
of kale varieties work for these chips.
These stupid broccoli plants made mostly
leaves, which were great for these chips.
I'm sorry that I didn't weigh the kale to tell you how much "one large bunch" is, exactly. The leaves should cover about 4 baking sheets when placed in a single layer. If you are using two varieties of leaf, try to separate by type on each tray because they will take different lengths of time to bake. In the right picture below, the broccoli are on the left tray and the kale on the right. The broccoli leaves took longer.

Be sure to keep an eye on the chips in the oven towards the end of the baking time. They go from perfect to burnt quite fast. Take them out when they have just the slightest touch of browning, like so:
They may not look pretty coming out of the oven, but....
...they look nice on the table.
Sesame and soy are a great combo, but you can switch out
salt for the soy sauce and add other seasonings instead like
cayenne or cumin.


From a recipe in Sunset Magazine.

1 large bunch kale, broccoli leaves, or other tough greens
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 300 F.

Cut the leaves from the ribs on the largest leaves only. Otherwise, cut the stems off at the bottom of the leaves. Wash the leaves and dry them first in a salad spinner, and then lay out a towel and quickly blot dry each leaf.

Toss the leaves in a bowl with the other ingredients until well-mixed. Lay out the leaves on baking sheets, which don't need to be pre-greased if slighly nonstick but should be greased if not. The leaves should be in a single layer with as little overlap as possible. As you pull the leaves from the bowl, if the kale leaves are curly and haven't picked up enough of the dressing on the insides, swipe them along the sides of the bowl to coat them with the olive oil and sesame goodness all over.

Put the first two trays in the oven and bake for 13 minutes, then rotate the pans. Start checking the leaves after 4 minutes for doneness, but they may require up to 7 minutes (after rotating the pans) and you should be looking for crisp and only very slightly browned leaves. When you see the first signs of browning, they're done. See the picture above. Repeat with the next two trays in the oven.

Use a metal spatula to carefully pick the leaves off the pan - they should come off without too much trouble; I haven't had bad problems with sticking. Enjoy!

Growing kale (righthand planter) in the greenroom.