“Tell me what you eat, I’ll tell you who you are.” ~French Gourmand Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Hail to Kale!
I’ve always liked kale, liked it a lot, but, since September, my feelings for this non-heading leafy green cabbage have blossomed into love and it’s all because of a recipe I read in Edible Santa Barbara Magazine for ‘Kale Chips’.
My relationship with kale started in my first garden 13 years ago, when the Red Russian Kale that I grew never stopped growing, The seed packet claimed that kale was a biennial, but the seeds that I planted didn’t know that. They grew from one season to the next, faithfully producing an endless supply of luscious leafy greens. Sautéed, steamed, baked in casseroles; when I ate kale, I knew that I was getting Vitamin C and K, folic acid, beta carotene, and calcium. For years, I appreciated kale, but now, thanks to the recipe below, I’m crazy about it.
1/8 cup olive oil
1 bunch kale
1 T apple cider vinegar
Wash and dry kale. Chop into 3’ pieces. Toss with other ingredients. Roast at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, and then flip leaves over with a spatula. Roast 5-7 minutes more.
“It is coarse and ungraceful to throw food into the mouth as you would toss hay into a barn with a pitchfork.”- Anonymous, Art of the Table, Suzanne Von Drachenfels
It’s a little shocking when you pull your first tray of kale chips out of the oven. Contrary to their shriveled appearance, they tasted heavenly. After the second bite, I felt as if my body was receiving some vital nutrient that it hadn’t had in years. I devoured three quarters of the first batch before I had even gotten the pan to the table. I shared the remaining two pieces with my boyfriend, Kevin, who was enthusiastic about them, but not ecstatic, like me.
A few days later, I went to my local health food store and marched over to the Raw Foods section. In the past, I had scoffed at the highly priced unbaked coconut bonbons, flax balls, and raw cashews. I had even held up a plastic bag of Kale Chips that was selling for $7.99 and said to my sister, “Who would buy kale for 8 bucks?” But, now I knew who would- me, if I was desperate. But, I wasn’t- not yet- that would come in a few weeks. Right now, I just wanted some seasoning ideas.
For months, I continued to feed kale chips to my friends, sister, and co-workers. My own plants were stripped and if I harvested any more, I would kill them. So, I bought kale by the bunch at the Farmer’s Market and health food store. By now, I wasn’t alarmed at the way the kale looked coming out of the oven. I felt like a pro, as I took bunch after bunch of Lacinato kale (works the best) and tossed it in cayenne, balsamic vinegar, and nutritional yeast. I no longer cut the kale into 3” pieces. Why bother? When the timer sounded, I would pull the full leaves out of the oven and they would always be perfect. I was definitely getting the hang of this roasting thing; crispy, but not too burned.
My addiction to kale chips was first pointed out to me by Kevin, who wandered into the kitchen one night when I was pulling a tray of kale out of the oven. “Not the kale again!” he exclaimed. “Why don’t you let me make dinner instead? You look like a seabird eating seaweed.” he said as he began to chop an onion.
Thirty minutes later, Kevin announced, “Dinner is ready.” When I came to the table and sat down, he asked. “Where’s the green stuff for the side dish?” I looked at him and didn’t say a word. He stood there, spatula in hand, pointing it at me. “A whole tray of it?” he sounded slightly alarmed. “Damn! You’re addicted.” I nodded solemnly.
Since then, I have eaten many more entire bunches of kale by myself. At first I was embarrassed, but, now I think I’m part of a larger movement. Last night at the store, as my leafy bunches rolled by me on the check-out conveyer belt, the cashier remarked, “I love kale.” He leaned in closer and whispered, “Have you heard of kale chips?”