The Cooking Chronicles: Kale Two Ways

We’re really lucky here in Edmonton to have greens year-round, due to some greenhouse magic – butter lettuce from TR Greenhouses, spinach from Peas on Earth, and mixed heritage greens from Greens, Eggs and Ham, to mention a few. Of course, sometimes hearty greens are what we crave in the dead of winter – like kale.

North African Chickpea and Kale Soup

We had a couple of kale bunches from Kuhlmann’s. Most of the leaves went into a North African chickpea and kale soup.

We used chicken instead of vegetable stock, but that was the only change we made to a recipe that resulted in the most flavourful broth we’ve ever made – flavoured with cumin, paprika, chili powder, saffron, ground ginger, bay leaves and a cinnamon stick. The contents of the soup reminded us of Mark Bittman’s carrot, spinach and rice soup, but this one was so much better, and it simmered only for an hour!

Chickpea and Kale Soup

North African chickpea and kale soup

It’s definitely a soup that we are adding to our rotation.

Kale Chips

Kale chips are touted as a healthy alternative to fattening potato chips – kale drizzled with olive oil, baked in the oven, then tossed with seasoning (we like salt and paprika). We made kale chips earlier this year, but used a flat-leaf kale, which seemed to work well. We were curious about how curly kale would turn out.

Kale Chips

Kale chips

It seemed not to work as well, perhaps because I didn’t do as good of a job drying the leaves before putting them in the oven, so they weren’t as crunchy as the flat leaves. The seasoning did its job, but both of us had to admit – given a choice between kale chips and their starchy, deep-fried cousin, the latter would win…every time.

10 thoughts on “The Cooking Chronicles: Kale Two Ways

  1. I don’t like kale chips unless they’re in a nut-butter base, like this classic version below. Really, try them before you dismiss kale chips forever! Whole, ground nuts beat refined, high-heat processed oils any day! These are heavenly, crispy, savoury, and considerably healthier than deep-fried starch. You can make them in a dehydrator or in a carefully-watched oven- you want about 170 degrees, so set your over to 200 and open the door every 10 minutes for 1 minute, rotating the pans often. Worth the wait, trust me!
    http://raw-radiance.blogspot.com/2010/02/cheesy-kale-chips-anyone.html

  2. I think the name ‘kale chips’ by default puts them in competition with ‘potato chips’. And that’s tough competition. I’m all about drying kale, but I will never convince my wife on kale over potato chips.

  3. Love the soup idea, Sharon. I always add kale to my zuppa – hot italian sausage, with carrots, celery, onion, garlic in a rich chicken or turkey stock, a can of beans and chopped kale. Serve with parmesan cheese on top and crusty bread on the side.
    Another great way to prepare kale fresh – salad in a bag – tear the ribs off, finely chop, put in a zip lock back with olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt. Then smush around and refrigerate overnight to soften the leaves. Spread on a platter and put ricotta, grape tomatoes, fresh ground pepper and roasted almonds on top -healthy and colourful too.

  4. virtual.jess – hm, that nut butter base sounds interesting. Mack might not be able to eat it though…wonder if we could use something other than nuts to achieve the same purpose?

    Kevin – you’re right, they really can’t be compared. And yet, all of the recipes that I read start off with that kind of description: “these are better than potato chips”! Maybe nutritionally, but taste wise?

    Katharine – I think I prefer curly kale to both spinach and Swiss chard; the leaves tend to retain their shape and texture better. Your soup sounds delicious! Thanks for the salad idea – I never really considered it to be a salad possibility, given how tough the leaves are. But marinating overnight? Ingenious!

  5. If he is ok with seeds, use fresh sunflower seeds, process the same way. I use sunflower seed butter in place of nut butter all the time when cooking for those with allergies, it works best if you can use the freshest possible, unroasted seeds. Pumpkin seeds may work too, but the sunflower seeds do get nice and creamy.
    When I make this recipe with cashew butter, they always turn out shatteringly crisp, and deeply flavourful. I like to use a splash of tamari rather than salt, and toss in an extra clove of garlic and double the nutritional yeast, but it depends on taste, really. I also remove chips as they get crispy, letting the less-done ones stay in until they’re just right- especially with curly kale, as it’s so uneven. You can store extras in an air-tight container, just reheat them in a 300 degree oven for 7 minutes or so to get them crisp again.
    I do like kale more than most people, I admit it, but this is a seriously delicious recipe.

  6. virtual.jess – thanks for the tip, especially the details about substituting sunflower seeds in place of nuts. Anything to get Mack eating more greenery :).

  7. I make kale chips with the curly kale, with no problem. The secret is to simply not wash the kale. Give it a good shake to get any dirt out and leave it at that. Maybe it sounds bad? But it works for us and no one has died in our house.

  8. I agree with Cheryl, we don’t wash ours, but definitely use the organic kale- we grow our own black kale, but through the winter we buy organic curly kale from the market or Planet Organic for chips- frozen kale doesn’t hold it’s shape enough for chips.
    My partner is a green-a-phobe and I can get kale into him in two forms, chips, or colcannon puffs, maybe try these too? They’re delicious!
    http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2009/03/colcannon-puffs.html

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