Salt & Vinegar (Kale) Chips

I promise, this is my last post about kale. Truly. Even if my CSA thrusts kale at me for several more weeks. But I was compelled to write about kale one last time because did you know you can turn kale into, basically, POTATO CHIPS? Seriously, if your eyes were closed when eating kale chips, you might swear you were eating Potato Chips.

Might.  Especially if you were having a beer.  Or 2. But even beer-less, it’s amazing how much like potato chips these taste.

I stumbled on this kale chip idea online – when Gluten-Free Girl (love that blog) had a funny post – and recipe – for Baked Kale Chips.  Now I don’t eat gluten-free, but I love Shauna James Ahern’s very popular blog because it’s inspiring, she posts gorgeous food photos, her husband is a chef, and she offers amazing recipes. Here’s what she said about Kale Chips that made me LOL and intrigued me to read more/try a recipe:

“For months, even years, I’ve been reading raves of this healthy snack from bloggers across the country, and the world. Maybe it’s this stubborn quirk I have. If too many people extol the virtues of something, I resist it…”

I entreat you to read her blog post with recipe for Baked Kale Chips – besides being funny, she is especially good at pointing out things that mere mortals (aka non-chefs) wouldn’t know… like you must get the kale chips out of the oven before they turn brown or they’ll be bitter… or instead of calling for ‘6 oz’ of kale (I mean, really) she says to use ‘3 large handfuls.’  Love that.

But I don’t love smoked paprika, the key flavoring in the Gluten-Free Girl recipe, so  I kept searching. In the end, I used the techniques in Gluten-Free Girl and married it with a recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen: Roasted Kale Chips with Sea Salt and Vinegar.  I loved that the idea of Salt & Vinegar flavoring for the kale as that is the only kind of potato chip that I really enjoy, and the Kalyn’s Kitchen recipe had great step-by-step photos which, kale-novice that I am, I found very helpful.

Plus, a key for any recipe I try, it was clear Kalyn had tested it out extensively.  I especially liked how she developed her recipe – made me confident to try it:

“When I finally decided I had to try making kale chips myself, I found there were endless variations on the recipe, with different cooking times and slightly different methods. I can be rather a perfectionist, so I had to test 6 slightly different versions before I came up with the recipe I liked best, where the kale chips are roasted for a longer time at a fairly low temperature.”

Ah, a fellow perfectionist.  Perfect.

I made these and everyone loved them – my husband and 3 friends who ate them along with wine and beer at the beach.  Even my broccoli-only teenager tried it (shocking, I know!) and proclaimed them ‘not bad.’  Which, in case you don’t speak teen, means ‘fantastic.’

Specifically, my son was surprised that the ‘after taste’ did actually taste like salt & vinegar chips. In the end, he ate just a handful as he could not get past the fact they were green.  But hey, a handful of green eaten by my teen is a big success in my book. (Apologies for the lame rhyme).

So if you have a bunch of kale and are jones’ing for a health snack, try kale chips.  If smoked paprika sounds good to you, follow the Gluten-Free Girl recipe.  Or if you’re a salt & vinegar fan, just click on over to Kalyn’s Kitchen recipe or download that recipe, with my handwritten notes right here: Salt & Vinegar Kale Chips.

Bake ’em and then leave your hot kitchen with a couple of cold ones and enjoy these chips with friends.  They’ll be amazed at the taste and that you made ’em!

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CSA inspired Roasted Kale

Way back in snow-drenched January, when I was newly diagnosed with high cholesterol and all gung-ho about eating healthier and looking forward to spring vegetables, I joined a CSA with a friend.

A CSA is basically a farm-share – you pay upfront to get fresh veggies all spring and summer from a local farm.  I can never remember why it’s called a CSA (it stands for Community Supported Agriculture, thank you google).  Sounds great in theory, right? Eating local, check.  Supporting local farmers, check.  Farm-fresh veggies, yum-check.

In practice, I’m totally overwhelemed.

First of all, the first few weeks of the CSA were nearly 100% lettuce (and the veggies that weren’t lettuce were totally unidentifiable to me.)  As I am not, shall we say, Salad-Girl, this was a tremendous problem for me.

Luckily my sister Melissa – who works with our family business so is around to help me sort out the weekly bounty – loves salad.  She took many heads of gigando-leafed, what-on-earth-is-that lettuce off my hands.

But even Melissa, who is the very definition of Salad-Girl, had to resort to GRILLING LETTUCE because there was so much of it.  Let me repeat – grilling lettuce!  Who ever heard of such a thing.

Her teenage girls were not amused.

I am still laughing.

Luckily, the growing season has progressed – we are now past the lettuce stage, and I feel smug and smart, as I can identify nearly all of the vegetables in my box each week.

Identify – yes.  Know how to cook?  No.

The CSA weekly newsletter helps – they tell you what’s in that week’s box and even provide handy recipes for things like kohlrabi chips.  (I have still not tried kohlrabi – what on earth is it anyway?  I just know I’m happy Melissa likes it.)

It was getting a little crazy, though – I mean I’m paying all this money (and should be eating more fresh veggies) so I decided to try cooking something I’ve never before cooked.

No, not kohlrabi.

Kale.

Melissa told me it was easy to cook kale, and since: a) it did indeed sound easy; b) I know I like kale; and c) it’s not weird-looking kohlrabi, I threw a huge head of kale in the car, took it (along with vodka and wine of course) to my friends’ new summer-rental home in Litchfield, CT.

Roasted Kale

SCORE!  Roasted kale was easy as pie and so delicious everyone had seconds until there was not a scrap left.

I should note, however, that there were no kids eating, and the 4 adults had consumed a few bottles of wine.

That said, it was easy to make and wonderfully flavorful.  If you’ve not tried roasted kale, you might want to give it a go.

The recipe, if you want to call it that, is simple:

  1. Preheat oven to 450
  2. Rinse and rib the kale (toss ribs).  Rip into pieces – same as you would for lettuce (LOL)
  3. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper.  You want it to be barely-wet, not drenched and not dry. Add a few garlic cloves if you want – whole or minced.
  4. Roast for about 20 minutes and serve.

Goes particularly well with wine. Oh, and food.

Enjoy!

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Grilled Char and Arugula Salad

Freshly back from vacation, where my lo-co diet sadly also took a vacation, I was determined to make better food choices.  So after I unpacked and noticed the veritable forest of arugula growing on my deck planter, I searched online for an arugula recipe.

Photo from Cooking Light

And voila – Cooking Light came through again. Their Arctic Char and Arugula Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette looked intriguing.  And since it was listed in their ‘Eat healthy in 20 minutes…with these superfast, easy main-dish salad recipes,’ I knew I could make this recipe while dealing with mountains of laundry. Woot.

Turns out, this dish is very easy to make and delicious.  A few things to note:

  • I absolutely LOVE Arctic Char and it’s sold at my local fish market. Many are probably not familiar with this fish, so here are some key Char facts.  Arctic Char delivers loads of heart-healthy oils, is similar to both salmon and trout, is an ‘environmentally responsible seafood choice’ and although it looks like salmon, to me it does not taste like salmon.  Check out wikipedia or New England Aquarium website for more Arctic Char info.
  • This recipe asks you to saute the fish, but I grill it instead.  It’s easy to grill Char (especially since my husband does all grilling, LOL). Here’s how to grill Char: salt, pepper & olive oil both sides of the fish then place it, skin-side-down on a hot grill (he uses a grill screen). Cook 4-6 minutes (depends on thickness) then flip using 2 spatulas and cook another 4-6 minutes.
  • The vinaigrette in this recipe is quite good, but I will make 1 adjustment next time I make this.  As I do not enjoy raw garlic or shallots/onions, I plan to saute the shallots just a bit to remove the raw taste before adding to the vinaigrette.
  • I substituted toasted slivered ALMONDS instead of pine nuts because almonds are a cholesterol-lowering food.  Plus, I was out of pine nuts.   To toast slivered almonds, I just put them on a tray and hit ‘toast’ on my Toaster Oven – but be careful, they burn quickly.

Here’s the photo my son took of the dish I made: pretty close to the Cooking Light photo, no? Especially amazing since we didn’t even break out a real camera – he took this with his iPhone… I guess I could have arranged it more artfully – spread the tomatoes, for example – but I was HUNGRY.

Give this one a whirl.  My husband and I loved it. Our teenager (remember, he’s allergic to lettuce but I told him arugula was different) literally spit it out. But hey, arugula is an acquired taste/on the bitter side: if you don’t love arugula, you can still try this recipe — just substitute spinach or any kind of lettuce and you’ll be good to go.

Enjoy!

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