Thursday, December 17, 2015

Kale chips, the Greek way

One of the things that happen during the holiday season is that wherever you go, wherever you look, there are sweet and salty treats that you can’t possibly ignore or resist.




Those sweet and salty nibbles can make even the most strong-willed person cave and have one, two, three or a dozen of them in an instant. They are dangerous, especially if you’re trying to be careful with what you eat.


Since I’m making a conscious effort this year to eat better during the holidays and not be as vulnerable to the allure of snacks as I usually am, I plan ahead and make my own snacks that are a bit more chaste, to have on hand whenever I feel the need to binge on the bad stuff. Besides, I prefer to enjoy my main festive meals and have some dessert afterwards rather than falling head first into the snack bowls.




One of the snacks I love is kale chips. I know, how virtuous of me. Well, it’s not like that, I really enjoy them, especially when I toss them with extra virgin olive oil and dried oregano and then sprinkle them with lemon zest. That’s my way to go, the Greek way.




Kale, by the way, and curly kale in particular, is a beloved vegetable here in the Netherlands (ages before it became trendy around the world). It is one of the most traditional Dutch vegetables and is included in many Dutch dishes with the most representative one being the stamppot, which is a potato and vegetable mash served with a rookworst (Dutch smoked pork sausage) on top. This dish is too hardcore for my Greek palate, so I prefer to add my Dutch kale to Greek phyllo pies, to bruschette and of course use it to make chips.


I make these regularly because I love the slightly bitter flavor of kale but also because I love crispy textures, and these crisp up so well in the oven.




So without further ado, I bring you my kale chips. They are slightly bitter, sweet and earthy with a wonderful herbaceous flavor from the Greek dried oregano and a pleasant zing from the lemon zest. Give them a try!









Kale chips, the Greek way

Kale chips are very versatile. You can make them not only with dried oregano but with all sorts of dried herbs, with smoked sea salt, with cheese like parmesan or Kefalotyri if you want to go Greek, with all kinds of pepper (hot smoked paprika is my favorite).

If you can’t find curly kale, you can use any other type of kale to make these easy and quick chips.

Be careful with the salt. Kale doesn’t need too much.




Yield: enough for 2 people

Ingredients
185 g fresh whole curly kale leaves (after removing the veins and stems they were about 120 g)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp Greek dried oregano
Sea salt, to taste

Grated zest from 1 lemon, for serving

Special equipment: one or two baking sheets (depending on the size of your oven), baking paper


Preparation
Preheat your oven to 175°C.
Line one or two baking sheets (depending on the size of your oven) with baking paper.

Rinse the kale leaves under cold running water and dry them very well with a clean kitchen towel or with absorbent kitchen paper. This is a must otherwise when you bake the kale it will steam rather than crisp up.

Remove the central, thick vein of each kale leaf as well as the stems and cut with your hands the leaves into large pieces.

Place kale in a large bowl, drizzle the olive oil on top, add the oregano and a little salt, and massage the kale with your hands in order to coat every piece with the oil. Spread evenly and in one layer the kale pieces on top of the baking sheets.


Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 12-13 minutes or until the leaves look crisp and have taken on a golden color around the edges. You can give them a taste before taking them out of the oven to ensure they have crisped up properly.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool before emptying them into a large bowl. Taste and add more salt if needed, add the lemon zest and toss gently with your hands. Enjoy!

If you want to store them, wrap them loosely in baking paper or kitchen paper and place them in a plastic bag but do not seal the bag. Keep them like that for a couple of days.


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