Sunday, 1 March 2009

kale, take two

I am a firm believer in eating your vegetables. Yes, I am also a firm believer in desserts and cheese and cream, but vegetables make me feel good, like I'm taking care of myself, maybe even like I'm doing a bit of good in the world (when I eat local, organic greens). I count among my accomplishments in life teaching Ian to put spinach in curry, introducing Emily to eat raw broccoli, and teaching my housemate from last year that chard was in fact not rhubarb, but under the right circumstances could be just as yummy.

So I try, I really do. But with kale, man did I try. Until recently with the introduction of the Zuni Café's Kale to my repetoire, I had some mighty bad experiences. I went through a stir fry phase last year. I thought I could add chopped kale to the skillet and, like spinach, it would wilt away in the last few minutes of cooking adding just a bit of color with lots of bonus vitamins. Instead, I would have a bowl of lovely, sesame oil spiked vegetables, and then the kale. Tough and chewy, I would sit and try try try to like the stuff, while my jaw got more and more sore and I just got plain sick of chewing. And then there was soup. Again, I thought it would act like spinach and just in the last few minutes of any soup's simmer melt away. Chewy chewy mess is what it was.

But, with the future of kale in my life at stake, I didn't give up. Zuni gave me boiled kale, and then I ate kale soup, and then there were kale chips. I ate them in New York at Blue Hill café, and then when I got home I found a recipe waiting for me in MAGAZINE.

I made kale chips that afternoon. With added salt (the recipe didn't call for any), the kale leaves crisped up in the oven to featherweight snacks that crumbled between our teeth with a wonderful earthy flavor. The flavors of the kale were singled out by the heat, and an almost mushroom like quality shined through, making the leaves fabulous little savoury snacks unlike anything we had had before (I think they were even better than the Blue Hill ones, maybe because I made 25 leaves instead of two!).

Tuscan Kale Chips
adapted from Bon Appetit

One bunch Tuscan/lacinato kale, rinsed, dried
One tablespoon olive oil
Salt, to taste

1. Cut the leaves in half, removing the woody stems. Toss leaves with olive oil and salt.

2. Arrange the leaves on two baking sheets, in a single layer if possible. Bake at 250 degrees for 30 minutes.

3. Let cool. Munch!

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