Kale. There you go. No beating around the bush this week - Kale is the one for me. I love the stuff. I love its deep, rich, iron taste. I love how it can go fresh into a salad or be cooked down with bacon and cream. It’s so versatile and I guess that’s why it was the first ingredient that I knew I wanted.
If we take a step back to where this all began; just like the Anchovy, Kale is something that I definitely didn’t appreciate as a child. In fact, looking back at the 11 blogs I’ve written so far, it appears that I didn’t really like anything to eat as a child! This is actually as far away from the truth as possible, as I used to eat everything that was put in front of me. Quite honestly, the story so far makes me wonder how I ever came to be a chef - with such a distaste for so many ingredients! But I guess that it’s the old mind playing tricks again (although I know I hated honey!!!).
So, Kale. It’s definitely one of those ingredients that, if not prepared correctly, can be more of a ‘turn off’ than a ‘turn on’. In my time, I’ve been served it overcooked, under seasoned, so insipid that it would make even the happiest of eaters turn their nose up. However, I’ve also enjoyed perfectly cooked kale with bacon and cream, to accompany a succulent piece of cod. Delightful!
Kale comes from the Brassica family or, as us laymen like to refer to it, the Cabbage family. Other members of this culinary dynasty are collards, brussel sprouts and broccoli. There has been a recent upturn in the amount of these vegetables that are being used. A lot of that can be put down to the fact that they are purported to have great health benefits. That would take another whole blog to go through, but let’s just say that the benefits are large and actually proven.
Kale itself comes in a variety of forms. The ones that I use most often are the Curly Kale and the darker variety known as Cavolo Nero (very predominant in Italian Cooking). Both are equally as excellent as the other but the Cavolo Nero does have a much stronger and richer taste. Personally, I find the curly Kale is better for drying out and eating crispy.
So that leads me onto another recipe I have for you. When we lived in America, we frequented a grocery store known as Trader Joes. Throughout my travels, I would have to say that Trader Joes in Piper Glen, Charlotte is probably my favourite food shop in the whole world. It had some of the best produce and the friendliest staff partnered with the most reasonable prices. New products were regularly gracing their shelves and at the back of the store, they had a mini kitchen where they would prepare these wares allowing customers to ‘try before they buy!’ On one (of our many) visits, there was a bag of Kale Crisps available to sample. This was to be the first time I’d ever tried them like that. Crispy and salty and full of flavor - they just melted in the mouth. I don’t really feel I can do it justice, so let me point you in the direction of the company themselves http://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-flyer/article/799
That got me thinking – could I do something similar at home? Many a subsequent hour was spent burning kale or waiting for the crisp crunch only to be met with a soggy, oily bite. However, after several attempts, I finally found what I was looking for. This recipe is even easier than last weeks. It’s also a 1000 times more nutritious and a lot healthier.
Set the oven to 175C.
Layer a baking tray with a piece of baking parchment.
Make sure to wash the kale and dry in a salad spinner.
Remove the stalks (if purchased whole) as these are nigh on inedible.
Place the Kale leaves into a bowl and add Olive Oil and Seasonings. Toss together.
Spread on baking sheet making sure that leaves are not stacked on top of each other.
You may have to do 2 batches if you have a small baking tray.
Place in oven for approx. 15 minutes - until crisp.
Remove from the oven and either eat straight away or allow to cool and eat later (store in an airtight container if you want to have it even later)