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Jacques Pepin's crispy kale

A few of us were intrigued by this side dish / snack JP did on a recent tv show. I made it last night and must say it's a great way of mixing up your basic kale recipes.

Take a big bowl of kale greens, removed from the stems, broken up into smallish pieces (I bought a bag of kale already prepped at the store). Toss with a TBSP of oil and a good sprinkle of salt. Crisp up on a baking rack set over a sheet pan at 250 degrees for about 25 minutes. Toss about halfway through. The kale will darken in color and diminish in volume dramatically.

Result is a crispy crunchy snack that makes it easy to get your kale. I bet kids would love it too, since it doesn't really seem like a veggie once it's all crispy and salty.

If you're trying to eat more kale (and you should!) this one is worth a whirl.

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  1. The NYTimes' Pete Wells has a well written and hilarious account of cooking with his young son, Dexter. Back in February he happened across a similar technique. Here's the article, if you don't read it for the recipe, read it for the giggle factor. Enjoy!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/08/mag...

    1. Do you think it would work with regular (not baby) spinach, too? I had some crispy spinach at a restaurant that was to die for, and want to recreate, and I *really* don't want to fry it!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Niki in Dayton

        You can always try a few leaves and tell us!

        If it doesn't work, let us know. I'll send you a check for $0.005 cents to reimburse you for the lost 3 leaves of spinach. ;-)

        1. re: SQHD

          I'll let you know how it works out....and no reimbursement necessary ;-) I'm also trying the kale, which we both love anyway; always looking for new preps!

      2. "Kale crack" has been floating around the web for a little while now, with slight variations. Melanie Wong served it at a party this weekend and everyone was amazed at how fun and delicious it is, especially for something that easy.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          I wish I had noticed references to Kale Crack. It is!

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Thanks for the shout out. I've tried it with different kinds of kale, and the overwhelming favorite among those who've tasted the kale chips is the lacinato kale, and luckily that happens to be the easiest to work with as well. Russian kale does make pretty, frilly pieces, but the lacinato is denser and cooks to a glossy green-black color.

            To add to yumyum's instructions, it's very important to get the kale DRY. You'll get a more even dehydration that way. You can do this laboriously with a couple kitchen towels, or wash the kale the night before, and leave it on the counter to dry overnight.

            Take some time to coat the leaves thoroughly with the oil. I'm now using less than a tablespoon per bunch, but do work it in well, for better flavor, strength and appearance.

            We've also tried different salts. Fleur de sel, fine sea salt, Hawaiian red salt . . . and so far, i think Maldon salt has the nicest effect.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              I tried making this tonight with red kale and it IS crack! was wondering how lacinato kale would be, thanks for mentioning it, that's what I plan to try next!

              1. re: poptart

                The fun part about using lacinato (aka dino kale or black kale) is that you get such big chips. I tear them into two or three pieces. At a reception at one friend's house, the leaves were left whole and she arranged them vertically in a vase, like you'd present tall bread sticks, and the effect was quite dramatic.

          2. I saw this show and have to admit, I am willing to try kale another time to see if this is the cooking method that finally wins me over.

            1. Ooo! Just got kale in my CSA box! I'm trying it!

              Probably the last of the kale, but the first of the favas!

              1. I make this all the time. My husband has a friend who won't eat veggies, but he eats this kale like it's crack.

                1. I tried crispy kale last night, after reading about it here - oh my, this is good! I'm thinking about sprinkling my next batch with the chili seasoning they serve udon soup with in restaurants... yummy!

                  1. I just recently started making crispy kale. I do it on my homemade dehydrator, since I don't have an oven. It's easy to polish off an entire bag of kale now!! I've made with olive oil and salt...great. I also mixed wasabi, soy sauce, garlic powder, olive oil and salt...and it was a stellar combo with crispy kale. A bit of cayenne is nice too!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: scuzzo

                      Oh I'm so glad you mentioned that you used your dehydtrator! I was going to ask, but was too embarassed. About how long in the dehydrator? so just toss with oil, add your seasonings and hit the button? I've never had this but now I must try it, what a great way to get vitamins in kids! Kale the King of Veggies!

                    2. Does it stay crispy? Could you bring it to a party as a novelty?

                      2 Replies
                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          Maybe I will try some and add it to my mothers day baskets. I've been looking for something different to add,

                      1. To those who've tried it: That doesn't seem like very much oil at all, so I'm assuming it's mostly to keep things from sticking, not to coat every leaf so that it sort of "fries." Am I right there?

                        Anyone ever tried it on a Silpat with no oil? I guess the stakes aren't too high just to give it a whirl.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: dmd_kc

                          I had questions about the oil too. Anybody tried a spray?

                          1. re: Shrinkrap

                            Used olive oil spray on the pan, sprinkled that with sea salt then put the leaf pieces on top as per directions in Mollie Katzen's "Vegetable Heaven", she says you can sprinkle on parmesan cheese too but I just went with the salt.

                          2. re: dmd_kc

                            I think it mainly helps the salt adhere to the leaves. Light tossing results in *most* leaves being coated with oil which aids in the crisping too.

                            Let us know if you try the silpat. But note, JP never steers you wrong.

                            1. re: yumyum

                              I did it successfully using Mazola olive oil spray and a silicone mat. Since I did it in my toaster oven, I used a slightly lower temperature, so it took a bit longer to dry the kale, but the result was great.

                            2. re: dmd_kc

                              I just throw the kale in a ziploc bag and toss in some olive oil. I massage the bag so most are coated.

                            3. I tried this last night to munch on with cubanos so that I wasn't tempted to have fries or chips. (The jeans seem to be a size smaller than they were a couple of months ago. Must have shrunk.) The four of us who are kale lovers really liked it, and it was really easy to eat a lot of kale that way. My son's friend wasn't a fan, but then again he hates kale. I'll make this often, though. An easy, tasty and nutritious crunch.

                              Oh, and I think as yumyum said, the oil helps the salt to adhere. I think it also helps a bit with texture. I probably used about two tablespoons to a good-sized bunch of kale. I think I could have cut down a bit on the oil, and definitely was overzealous with the salt.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: bear

                                I think the oil probably helps give it a carmelized/browned flavor that keeps it from being ... too much like dried kale.

                              2. Hot damn this is good! The first batch didn’t even make it from the baking sheet to the serving bowl. I agree about going easy on the salt since the kale volume decreases so much in cooking. Definitely don’t skip the oil. This was such a hit that I kept the oven on and tried it with rainbow chard and bok choy (and had spinach and parsley on deck but ran out of energy): still excellent but not a total homerun like the kale. The only problem was that the kale got a bit too crumbly so I wouldn’t recommend serving this at a party, at least not in the living room. More of a gobble-over-the-sink treat.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: extrasalty

                                  Concur with you. The kale was absolutely delicious but I did feel I was losing a big percentage through crumblage. I actually saved the crumbles and mixed them in with a baked pasta disch but I wonder if I overbaked the kale?

                                2. yumyum, do you think this method would be good with chard?

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: cassoulady

                                    I do! Take one for the team and let us know.

                                    To echo melaniewong's advice, getting the leaves really dry is key, as is working the oil in well (good for your cuticles too).

                                    1. re: yumyum

                                      I will give it a whirl and report back in the next few days

                                    2. re: cassoulady

                                      chard has a much higher percentage of water content in the stalk than kale, or some other greens. so perhaps you'd have to cut the stalk and dry it separately for a much longer amount of time.

                                    3. Ok, I hate to be a voice of dissent here but..... I made this yesterday. Now keep in mind that my husband and I LOVE kale, but... I thought this was terrible. I got them nice and crispy, and there was a salty hit at first, but then it had the most acrid aftertaste... I know kale can be bitter, and I usually like that, but it was as though this preparation concentrated all the bitterness... I actually rinsed my mouth out after eating these to try to get the bitterness out. Sigh. Oh well, I'll have to keep eating Kale my favorite way -- sauteed with lots of garlic, then add raisins, toasted walnuts, feta, and lots of fresh black pepper.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: fearlessemily

                                        Thanks for mentioning this. I've not had any examples that I wouldn't want to keep eating, but I have noticed a difference between sources of kale. The one that got closest to acrid was the least fresh bunch that came from 600 miles away. It was organic, as were the other sources, but this just didn't taste as good. The tastiest was the freshest from a biodynamic vineyard less than 10 miles from my house. It seems rather counterintuitive since this is a dehydration process, but it may be that the perkiest and most freshly picked bunches will be better than the limp ones.

                                        One other thing to look out for is bugs. The dimples in lacinato kale are perfect hiding places for dirt and stray insects. It is very interesting to see the dried bug bodies and clumps of dirt on the kale chips when they're exposed after drying.

                                      2. And I thought collard crack was my discovery. I've also used Japanese mustard greens. I'm growing both so they're just picked, putting them in my Cuisinart brick oven set on convection at 250 for about 5 minutes (or less). Also put salt and cayenne on - can't wait to try kale. I wonder what the nutritional value is compared to steamed greens.

                                        1. This is fabulous. I just tried a batch - my 18 month old son ate about half, and I finished off the rest (sorry, hubby). Full agreement about going easy on the salt, and the need for a bit of oil. Also, full agreement on the crumble factor.... Now I have to vaccum the floor where my son ate - but well worth it!

                                          1. This is such a new discovery, that you can make Crispy Kale, plain, salted, flavored, what ever you like and it does not take long to get the hang of it..
                                            Wash and really dry the kale and tear into mouth sized pieces...preheat oven,mine has a pizza stone is is convection , 200 to 250 for 10 to 12 minutes..check the kale to see if it has Crisped foryou. sometimes it takes a minute more or a minute less.
                                            I am in love with this Kale andcould eat it all day,and I do. It does not create any gastro [problems you might get from a lot of steamed kale.I also used spray can of conola...olive oil would also work, this way a lightly over spray, so there is not too much. I liked smoked paprika,cumin and very lightly salted.
                                            Truley a new good thing in my portfolio.
                                            Who Knew!

                                            1. If my kale didn't crisp is it probably that I didn't dry it well enough?

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: tinap60

                                                drying it well certainly helps, but even if it's really moist, just baking for a longer time or turning up the temperature should do it.

                                              2. Has anyone tried this with any other leafy greens?

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: just_M

                                                  Chard works the same way, although 25 minutes seems long. I just check it and it takeit out when it gets crispy.

                                                  1. re: Cathy

                                                    Thanks Cathy, I'll look forward to trying that. Experimenting is fun but a heads up is always nice.

                                                2. so delicious, i made some last week. i tossed mine in a mixure of olive oil, smoked paprika and salt. i left the leaves big and found there was less crumbling that way plus you can use the thick stems as "handles"

                                                  1. just tried this with bagged, chopped kale (used half for tomato soup). used garlic oil and maldon -- next time i'm going to try the parm oil in my fridge.

                                                    filled up a glass jar so i wouldn't eat it all, and it looked so pretty i decided that all i had to do was tie a red ribbon around the jar and i'd have the perfect christmas food gift -- easy, cheap, healthy and delicious!

                                                    of course, there are still a few people for whom only chocolate will do, but for the rest...

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: wonderwoman

                                                      what is "parm oil"?
                                                      Hoping it has something to do with parmesean...

                                                      1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                        she might mean "palm oil"? We'll have to see!

                                                        1. re: Val

                                                          yes -- parmesean!.

                                                          parm rinds in a small jar, covered with olive oil and stored in fridge. refill as necessary. keeps forever.

                                                          1. re: wonderwoman

                                                            be still my heart...wow, must try it sometime! Thanks!

                                                      2. What kind of oil are you using? I watched the JP episode and I wasn't sure if this was vegetable oil or olive oil.

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: DrBruin

                                                          I've only used olive oil, salt and pepper.

                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                              Brilliant idea! Just thinking about the intoxicating aroma of sesame oil with the crispy kale makes me wish I could make some now - maybe with a touch of shichimi togarashi. Must try.

                                                              1. re: BigSal

                                                                way ahead of you on the shichimi - it's terrific ;)

                                                                and for a non-spicy alternative, try sprinkling on your favorite variety of furikake...i use one with bonito flakes. yum.

                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                  I sense two new crunchy, salty addictions coming with the sesame oil/shichimi togarashi and the furikake ideas. :)

                                                                  1. re: BigSal

                                                                    new year, new addictions! ;) seriously though, i hope you enjoy them.

                                                          1. I love Jacques, but cannot credit him with this recipe. I first had these crispy greens at the restaurant on the ANU campus in Canberra in 1989. It was a revelation, and I've been fixing greens like this ever since.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                                              what other greens also work with this method, pikawicca?

                                                              1. re: Val

                                                                All of them: just julienne, toss with EVOO, S&P, and roast. They are all delicious. I've only done the bitter greens, so don't know how lettuces would do. I bet radicchio would work. Spinach works, too.

                                                              2. I don't even really like kale and this was so yummy!

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: italy531

                                                                  funny seeing this post. we made it on new years from the recipe on epicurious which i think was the same. everyone loved it.

                                                                  1. re: davmar77

                                                                    I am planning on making this tomorrow. I have seen many recipes for it- and the one thing that varies greatly is the temperature of the oven. Some have the over quite low, others put it at 350 and some even crank it up to 400. What temperature should I bake it at? I am really looking forward to some crispy kale!