food finale: kale chips

I love kale. I know a lot of people don’t; it can be bitter-ish sometimes, or tough, or even stringy. But there are so many things you can do with it, and it’s so good for you! Needless to say, I use kale very often…as in at least once if not more per week. Luckily, we get kale weekly in our CSA share and my mom-in-law grows it in her garden, so there is a plentiful supply.

Anyway, I usually use kale in the same basic preparations over and over: green soup, sautéed (with lots of garlic and finished with balsamic vinegar), raw in salads or slaws, steamed and drizzled with lemon, or in a stir-fry. But, these are easy uses for kale, and I have long wanted to do more, so I took the “food” theme as an opportunity to push for a greater kale experiment. One that I KNOW is delicious. One that I’ve just been too busy (read: lazy) to make. It’s the ultimate in kale awesomeness.

The Kale Chip.

And my friends, let me tell you, it was SO worth it!

I started with the recipe for kale chips in this blog post as a guide, but changed it up a bit based on the fact that I forgot to buy a pepper and I didn’t realize I was out of lemons:

1 bunch kale
1 c raw cashews, soaked
1/4 – 1/2 c nutritional yeast* (or to taste, I happen to LOVE this stuff so I use more)
1 tsp siracha (again, or more or less to taste)
1 tsp ground cumin
pinch of salt, to taste
1-2 tbs room temp water, as needed

Prepare the cashews ahead of time by placing them in a shallow bowl and covering with water. Let them soak for about 2-3 hours, until they become soft.

Prepare kale by removing the tough stalks and tearing the leaves into your preferred chip-sized pieces. I used what we got from the CSA this week, which happened to be curly kale, but any type would do (though the curly nature of this bunch helps hold onto the yummy goodness of the “sauce”). Wash the pieces and dry well. I used my trusty salad spinner for this task, as it speeds up the drying time significantly. Then I spread the pieces out on a dish towel to continue drying for about an hour (I made dinner while they dried: butternut squash soup…YUM!).

If you are going with the oven method, as opposed to using a food dehydrator**, preheat to 300 degrees. In a blender or food processor, process the cashews, yeast and cumin until smooth, adding water a little bit at a time to keep it smooth. The texture you are looking for is on the saucy side of paste – pour-able, but thick. Once the base is blended, add siracha and salt to taste and blend again.

Put kale pieces in a large bowl and pour the cashew mixture over them, tossing with your hands until the pieces are all well-covered, but not totally drenched.

Lay the sauced kale pieces out on a baking sheet in one layer. Bake in the oven for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until the pieces start to crisp up a little and the cashew mixture on top is dry. Turn pieces over with a spatula and bake another 5-10 minutes until the other side dries and the chips finish crisping. WATCH THEM CAREFULLY! They will be DONE all of a sudden and if you leave them in too long, they will either burn or dry out so much that they’ll just disintegrate. (If that happens, save them anyway to sprinkle on top of soup, salad or popcorn!)

They are cheesy, a little spicy in my case, crunchy, satisfying and pretty darn good for ya! See? Jeffrey likes them!

*If you are not familiar with nutritional yeast, there is a good explanation at the beginning of the kale chip post. It has a flavor reminiscent of cheddar cheese.

**I do have a food dehydrator, but I did not have the patience to use it this time around. I think the oven method was just fine, but I’ve eaten cheesy kale chips made in a dehydrator, and I prefer that result. The other plus to using a dehydrator is that you maintain the raw power of the kale – it’s easy to over-bake them in the oven rather than just drying them.

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About abbyrose

Abby is a creative director/graphic designer living in NH who's greatest loves in life include photography, traveling, food, family & friends and laughing (usually while with family and friends over food while traveling and taking photos).
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