Monday, January 23, 2012

Crispy Kale Chips With Smoked Paprika

Okay, let’s get back on a healthy eating track. After last week’s Butterscotch Pots de Crème incident, I think I’d better give you something to offset that craziness. Check out these Kale Chips. They may not be the most photographic chips, but what they lack in visual pizzazz, they certainly make up for it with a big nutritional punch. They also happen to be very tasty, and they have become my new favorite guilt-free snack while watching television late at night.

I’ve gotten hooked on “Downton Abbey” lately, as many of you probably are as well. I’m a little late coming to this party having never seen it until recently, but I got totally swept up in the Upstairs/Downstairs intrigue of it all two weekends ago, bingeing on the complete first season over a 48-hour period. I had a total Pavlovian reaction when I first started watching, for as I drooled over the characters’ gorgeous period costumes and their grand English manor, I immediately began craving tea and scones with clotted cream and jam. After one night of indulging that craving with a little bowl of whipped cream dotted with big dollops of raspberry jam (who even needs the scones and the tea?!), I knew I needed to figure out a healthier alternative quickly. Since it is January and I’m still doing post-holiday damage control, I began making roasted kale chips to go along with my Season 2 “Downton” episodes.

It couldn’t be easier. The kale, when roasted with olive oil and sea salt till crisp, takes on a texture similar to Lay’s potato chips. I’m not kidding. The papery roasted kale shatters when you bite into it, just like a mouthful of extra-thin crunchy chips. I’m finding that it’s the ideal salty snack for my late-night movie watching these days. While I’m perfectly capable of inhaling an entire large bag of Lay’s potato chips in a single sitting, I feel much better in every way after eating a equally large bunch of kale.

I’m playing around with the seasonings, sometimes just using olive oil and sea salt or perhaps adding a sprinkling of sherry vinegar to make a fancy version of salt&vinegar chips. I’ve also tried a more exotic version sprinkled with fresh lime and chile powder, or in tonight’s variation that involved a light dusting of Spanish smoked paprika which takes the kale chips to a whole new level of spicy crisp happiness. I’ll definitely have to make that version again when next week’s new episode of “Downton” airs.

One Year Ago: Orange Fennel Salad

For this recipe, I’ve been using the flat-leaf kale also known as Tuscan kale, lacinato kale or dinosaur kale. I suppose you could make this with regular curly kale leaves too, but whatever you use, make sure to rinse and dry your leaves completely so that the kale gets really crispy in the oven.

1 bunch Tuscan kale, stems removed and washed
1 Tablespoon olive oil
sea salt, to taste
¼ to ½ teaspoon smoked paprika, to taste

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a large baking sheet with foil.

After washing, make sure to dry the kale thoroughly. I usually spin it dry and then blot with a paper towel just to wick off any last droplets of water, which will otherwise cause the kale to steam in the oven. (You don’t want the kale to steam, because then it won’t get crispy a la potato chips!)

Tear the kale into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and toss thoroughly so that the leaves are evenly coated with the oil. (Use your hands if necessary to really work the oil into the kale.) Sprinkle with sea salt and spread the kale into a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Depending on how large your bunch of kale is and the size of your baking sheet, you may need to use two baking sheets. Bake until the kale is crisp, for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice to make sure that the kale roasts evenly.

When the kale is crispy, remove from the oven. Sprinkle with a ¼ teaspoon of the smoked paprika and toss to coat evenly. Taste for seasoning, and add up to a ¼ teaspoon more if you want a bit more kick. Serves 1, if your name is Louise and you have a compelling movie or television series to watch.


Emily B. said...

Hi, I'm enjoying your blog which came highly recommended by Lindsay! She's my lovely sister-in-law. These look delicious and I love the thought of being able to eat the whole bowl without feeling bad about it, especially while watching Downton Abbey!

Kim V said...

I just made these with baby spinach instead of kale.. they turned gorgeously bitter as well as crisp. I added paprika & the tiniest bit of salt, dumped a handful into garlic scrambled eggs, and then went back and finished the rest of them. Thanks, Louise!

The only downside to using spinach is that spinach reduces like crazy, so two traysful turned into an eensy beensy amount. Ha. I'd say kale, being sturdier, wouldn't fake you out like that. Still gorgeous though.