I don’t know why I resisted making kale chips for so long.
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. This is why I didn’t see Forrest Gump or Rain Man or The West Wing for years after they arrived on screens, large and small. (Actually, it was only the last one that made me curse this silly habit of mine.) It’s churlish and childish, but there it is. If everyone loves it, I’m not going to try it.
Believe me, I know how infuriating this can be. My dear friend Gabe, who is a talented filmmaker, has spent almost twenty years resisting any film I recommend. He dallies in seeing the film that forces me to gesticulate and speak louder and louder as I recount the startling cinematography and the subtleties of dialogue that reveal character with the silences between words. He nods. I slow down. I’ve just grown too enthusiastic, I realize. Now he won’t see it.
One night, years ago, we stayed up until nearly 4 in the morning, making a list of movies on stacks of paper napkins, the movies that made us remember how film can cut right through our hearts, urgently. (We had seen a film so bad we questioned the medium all over again.) At the end, I silently noted that at least 90% of the films were ones I had recommended, long before.
And so, I’m not going to rave about kale chips. I’m restraining myself. Perhaps you’re just like me. I don’t want you to wait years to make these.
I will share this: Little Bean loved them. See the olive oil and flecks of green on her fingers? She grabbed crisp leaves faster than I could photograph them. I wanted a full plate for the photograph. I have one with unexpected spaces instead. She ate half of them before we sat down at the table.
These kale chips have a strange, mesmerizing texture. Want to know what it is? Potato chips. When you cook them just long enough, before they brown and taste bitter, the leaves shatter between your teeth. You taste the grease of the olive oil, the crisp of the chip, and the slick of salt on the tongue. For a moment, you might think you are eating potato chips.
And then the last bite tastes like kale. These days, I prefer this to potato chips, any time.
So does Little Bean. We’re lucky, in this house. Because of my celiac, we don’t keep a lot of packaged foods around. In fact, there are so few I could count them all on one hand. Sure, there are plenty of great gluten-free baked goods and crackers and cookies on the market now. Occasionally, I enjoy them, and I’m so grateful they’re out there. Mostly, however, it’s kale from the farmstand, flours in the cupboard, cheese and meats and ripe pears on the kitchen counter.
This makes feeding a toddler an all-day job. I never seem to stop cooking and cutting, doing the dishes and planning ahead for the next meal. However, I’m lucky enough to be at home with her, to write in the evening when she’s asleep (like now). I can feed her every meal. Danny makes breakfast — this morning it was roasted potato slivers, leeks, bacon lardons, and scrambled eggs. I take lunch and dinner. Tonight, she and I shared warm brown rice, sautéed chard, a strawberry smoothie, and an apple. She lapped it all up, babbling all the while.
She’s never had a Lunchables, a toddler meat stick, a lollipop, or a potato chip. As far as she is concerned, baked kale chips with smoked paprika garlic salt is a really exciting snack.
We’re always looking for more snacks around here, though. Little Bean is going through a growth spurt and seems to never stop eating this week. What do you and your kids eat for snacks that makes them smack their lips and leaves you satisfied with what they’re eating?
If you haven’t made these kale chips yet? Well, let me say in a small, restrained voice: do.
Baked Kale Chips
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
3 large handfuls lacinato kale, torn into shreds
1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Combine the salt, smoked paprika, and garlic in a small bowl.
Wash the kale. Rinse the kale leaves, then put them in a salad spinner and spin until the green becomes a blur. Round and round, spinning and spinning — let the kale dry. After it comes out, dry it even more with paper towels. Those leaves should be bone dry.
Oiling the kale. Put the kale leaves in a large bowl. Drizzle over 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Massage the oil into the leaves. You might need more. You might have larger hands than I do. Use your judgment.
Bake the chips. Arrange the kale chips onto the sheet try and slide it into the oven. Bake until the leaves are crisp to the touch but still a dark green. (When they turn brown, they turn bitter.) Check at the 12-minute mark, to be sure.
Remove them from the oven. Sprinkle with the garlic smoked paprika salt.
Let them cool a bit. Eat.