I am often inspired by the students who take cooking classes at the Chopping Block. Let me give you an example.
Recently, I taught a Farm to Table class featuring farmers' market inspiration dishes like Crispy Kale Chips. For this dish, we used curly leaf kale, and one of my guests asked if you could make the same chips using alligator kale. I responded that in theory, it should work the same way.
That got me thinking what other chips might be available in that bitter green category. Other green leafy vegetables that fall in this category are: spinach, collard greens, Swiss chard, kale, chicory and endive. These vegetables have long been known as nutrient powerhouses and help the liver function more efficiently.
So, I decided to experiment by making three types of bitter green chips: alligator kale, Swiss chard, collard greens using the same recipe we used for the kale.
Crispy Kale Chips
Yield: 4 servings as a snack
Active time: 10 minutes
Start to finish: 25 minutes
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves torn into large pieces
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Salt to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2. Make sure the kale is dry, and place the pieces in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, sesame oil, soy sauce and sesame seeds. Toss well with your hands and season with salt, as needed.
3. Lay the kale pieces out on parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet trays.
4. Bake until they are lightly golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Every oven is different, so keep an eye on the kale so it doesn’t get too dark.
5. Allow to cool before serving.
For each green tested, I followed the class recipe to a tee, but included an extra teaspoon of fat to. One of the things you want to look for before you lay out your chips is to taste the raw green for flavor and also feel it. If you can’t feel a slight oily feeling on the leaves, you should add a little more fat and that will help in the crisping process. The raw flavor should be flavorful and slightly undersalted because as the green dries those flavors will intensify.
This is alligator kale tossed with the ingredients.
Here are the collard greens on a parchment lined sheet pan.
This is Swiss chard on a parchment lined sheet pan.
Alligator kale after 15 minutes in the oven.
Swiss chard after 23 minutes in the oven.
Collard greens after 20 minutes in the oven.
What was the verdict? All three were delicious, crisp and even though they all three had same seasoning schematic there was definitely nuanced differences in the flavor of all three. The Swiss chard was the one that I was most interested in finding out if it would work, and I believe that the longer cooking time had to do with the moisture content of the leaf itself. The collard green crisped up the nicest, due to the flatness of the leaf. It was also the easiest clean, dry and cut up.
As summer winds down, continue to use those greens you may be growing as crispy chips. If you try this recipe with a different green, please leave a message in the comments, and let me how yours turned out or if you happen to try a different flavor profile.
For more information on leafy greens, check out our Chef/Owner Shelley Young's video on how to work with kale.