Crispy Kale

Excerpts from my column in the Register Star and Daily Mail:

I am a late bloomer to kale. In my mind I used to lump all greens together as something you cook all day in a big pot with a hambone. Maybe that’s just my Southern roots showing. As a kid, I steered clear away from anything green stewing in a pot. As a health conscious adult, I started to get interested in greens but didn’t have a clue how to cook them.

Several years ago, while visiting Washington, D.C., I was standing in front of the produce section trying to figure out which greens to choose. They had mustard greens, collard greens and kale. I happened to overhear a lady say something to her husband and was happy to hear a melodic southern drawl. I thought that she would be a good one to ask. So I did.

She said, “Well, some people like kale because it is mild. Some people like the collards because it’s more flavorful. I like mustard greens because they have a bit of bite.” She paused then continued, “But you really almost have to be Southern to cook them right.”

I grew up in Virginia. To my Deep South relatives, I am a Northerner and to my Northern friends I’m Southern.

I tried to impress her with my Southern lineage. “I’m from Virginia and most of my relatives are from Georgia.”

“Well” she said as she turned to walk away, “maybe you ought to get them to cook them.” Clearly, to her, Virginia wasn’t far enough south.

Maybe I’ve been on a vendetta to prove the Southern lady in the grocery store wrong, because since then, I put kale in everything. Everything… soups, meatloaf, tomato sauce, mac and cheese, scrambled eggs, smoothies. It’s not the taste I’m going for, since kale is rather innocuous and blends in with the other flavors, it’s the nutritional boost. It is a true superfood.

Crispy Kale

Vegetables that taste like potato chips…what’s not to love? This recipe is adapted from Bon Appétit. I experimented with different greens, including Swiss chard, collard greens and radish leaves. I liked kale the best, though all variations were interesting. The radish leaves tasted like crunchy, salty air (but tended to burn easily).

Kale leaves, rinsed, dried, cut lengthwise into 2-inch strips, center rib and stem removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt, pepper, cayenne pepper to taste

-Preheat oven to 300°F.
-Toss kale with oil in large bowl.
-Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a dash of cayenne pepper.
-Arrange leaves in single layer on a baking sheet.
-Bake for 10 minutes; flip and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until crisp. When done they will be light and airy.
-Transfer leaves to rack to cool, then serve.

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