Monday, August 8, 2011
Tuscan Kale Chips with Lemon & Sea Salt
Kale is a primitive form of cabbage and seems to be native to the eastern Mediterranean. Varieties similar to the Lacinato shown were prized for their delicate flavor by both the Ancient Greeks and Romans, who brought them west to France and Britain.
The field-grown baby Lacinato or Tuscan kale is a treat right now. Young, sweet, and hardly a woody stem in sight. It's at its best both in mid-summer and in the early winter, when the frost has had a chance to up the sugar content in more mature and strongly flavored plants.
While the kale is still so small and tender though, I toss it with fruity olive oil and bake it whole just until crisp, giving it a quick shower of lemon juice and sea salt as it comes out of the oven. The long, slender leaves are far more elegant than normal kale chips, but every bit as addictive - particularly with an apéritif at that time, very early in the evening, when something revitalizing with salt and crunch and twang is called for.
Young Lacinato or Tuscan kale leaves, any thick stems and veins trimmed (or any other kale leaves, trimmed of stems and veins and torn into manageable pieces)
fresh lemon juice
finely ground sea salt or kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 300 F (150 C, gas mark 2)
Rinse and pat dry the kale leaves, making sure that any thicker stems or veins have been trimmed. In a large bowl, toss the leaves with a drizzle of olive oil until evenly coated. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and, working in batches, arrange the leaves in a single layer, being sure not to have any overlap. Bake until dry and crisp - start checking at 20 minutes. Shower with lemon juice and sprinkle with salt before cooling slightly. Arrange standing upright in glasses as shown if desired and serve immediately.