Fresh local kale will be showing up soon at many local farm markets; Rosemary’s Garden and Stubbs Family Farm are among several local growers of quality kale, and cooler weather means a greater variety of greens can be grown.
This author neither disliked nor particularly fancied kale until becoming intrigued by a recent segment on NPR in which a Chris Kimball from America’s Test Kitchen claimed that kale chips could be easily made in the microwave. The how-to on this recipe – which made all the difference – follows this article.
Kale (Brassica oleracea ) is one of the healthiest vegetables around, providing more nutritional density (maximum nutrition in minimal calories than almost any other food around. This dark green leafy vegetable is technically a cool-weather crop, although some local vendors grow it year-round in controlled conditions. Kale is easily grown and can tolerate colder temperatures; in fact, a light frost will actually produce extra-sweet kale leaves. There are several varieties of kale, including curly kale, ornamental kale, and dinosaur (or Lacinato or Tuscan) kale, all of which differ in taste, texture, and appearance.
Curly kale has ruffled leaves and a fibrous stalk; it’s usually a deep green color and has a pungent flavor with a slightly bitter, peppery taste. Ornamental kale is also known as salad savoy and has green, white or purple leaves on stalks which form a loosely knit head. Ornamental kale has a flavor which is a bit mellower and the leaves are somewhat tenderer than curly kale.
Dinosaur kale is the common name for the flatter-leafed kale variety also known as Lacinato or Tuscan kale. It features dark blue-green leaves that have a slightly wrinkled, textured appearance. Its flavor is slightly sweeter and more delicate that of curly kale.
Kale chips are simply dehydrated kale leaves. They can be made easily in the food dehydrator, but Chris Kimball (NPR segment) explains that microwaving the kale dehydrates the leaves evenly and thoroughly. This author finds that this results in a big improvement in flavor and texture over the oven and dehydrator methods.
Microwaved kale chips – Chris Kimball, America’s Test Kitchen
- 5 oz. kale (about 1/2 bunch)
- Kosher salt to taste (author used unprocessed sea salt)
Remove stems from kale. Tear leaves into 2-inch pieces; wash and thoroughly dry, then toss well with 4 teaspoons oil in large bowl.
Spread one-third of leaves in single layer on large plate and season lightly with kosher salt. Microwave for 3 minutes.
If leaves are crispy, transfer to serving bowl; if not, continue to microwave leaves in 30-second increments until crispy. Repeat with remaining leaves in 2 batches. Store chips in airtight container for up to 1 week.