Sunday, April 21

Sea Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips

In an attempt to add more dark, leafy greens into my family's diet, I've been experimenting with kale.  Since kale is one of the healthiest vegetables around (with anti-inflammatory benefits, antioxidants, known cancer-preventive nutrients, detoxifying abilities, and compounds to enhance eye and lung health - to name a few), and since my family has been battling illness for over a week now, this nutrient-dense food was exactly what we needed.  The deep green kale in my market was absolutely fresh and beautiful last week, and I couldn't resist buying a large bunch with the intention of making Colcannon, a traditional Irish dish of potatoes and kale mashed with heavy cream (my go-to kale recipe).  However, when I got home I was inspired to do something quite different.

I keep asking myself, Why has it taken you so long to discover these?!  Kale chips have been making their way around the blogosphere for some time now, but only recently have I begun to cook it this way.  Something almost magical happens when kale is roasted in the oven.  The bitter flavour is tamed and becomes rich, hearty and organic.  The tough, woody leaves become light and feathery.  I'm serious; these nearly melt in your mouth. 

Kale chip recipes abound in heaps and droves on the internet, and perhaps it's a recipe that's been "overdone," but I was so happy with how these turned out that I just had to share.  I hope you don't mind.  I wanted to keep my chips simple, while enhancing the earthy flavour of the kale in a subtle and sophisticated way.  Malt vinegar was the natural choice.  Additionally, I infused the olive oil with garlic over very low heat and used the finest French gray salt I could find.  That's it!  A few simple but extraordinary ingredients, half and hour in the oven and you have a fabulous homemade snack with a list of nutritional benefits too long to name.  If you've never made kale chips before, I highly suggest that you do!

"These are sooo good!" my son exclaimed as he sat down for his afternoon snack.  Needless to say the entire bunch of kale was gone in a few minutes.  I call that a success.

Sea Salt and Vinegar Kale Chips

1 large bunch of Kale (about 10 - 15 large leaves) (preferably organic)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove of garlic
a large pinch of coarse sea salt
1/4 tsp malt vinegar

Preheat your oven to 280 F (140 C).  In a small sauce pan heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over med-low heat.  Peel and crush the garlic, but keep the clove whole.  Add the garlic to the oil and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes to infuse the oil.  Don't let the garlic brown.  Pour the hot oil into a glass bowl and add the remaining tablespoon of oil.  Allow to cool for a few minutes. 

Meanwhile, wash the kale, remove the centre rib from the leaves, and cut the leaves into large pieces.  Dry the kale on paper towels, and spread the leaves onto two large baking sheets.  Drizzle the cooled garlic-oil evenly over the kale and season with a large pinch of sea salt.  Toss the leaves to coat and spread in an even layer.  Bake the kale in the oven for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes remove the baking sheets (the kale will still be very soft).  Pour the vinegar into a small bowl and, with a pastry brush, spritz the vinegar evenly over the kale.  Turn the kale over with a spatula making sure it's spread evenly over the baking sheets.  Rotate the pans and place back in the oven.  Continue baking for 10 - 15 minutes longer, until the kale is crisp and light.  Watch it carefully near the end of the cooking time.

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