Depending on what pocket of the nation’s cultural foodscape you occupy, kale chips maybe the latest eco-snacking craze to sweep your community, or they may be something you’ve never heard of. I live in Portland, Oregon, so you can guess which camp I’m in. I’m very familiar with kale chips as something I regularly don’t buy when I pass them on the shelves at the grocery store. I don’t tend to buy packaged snack foods, in general, and I’m skeptical that anything with the word “chips” in its name could be worth $8.
While I don’t tend to buy things in bags, I clearly do tend to experiment with foods, so making my own kale chips at home seemed like a good project. Having a bunch of kale and collards in the garden out back made it even more appealing. Here’s the bunch of greens I started with
So when my local grocer put a variety of kale chips on sale last week, I bough the most heavily discounted one (Alive & Radiant Foods’ Kale Krunch) and took note of the ingredient list: Kale, Pumpkin Seeds, Lemon Juice, Chia seeds, Olive oil, Salt.
I did not have all of these things in my pantry, but figured I could wing it. In my food processor, I blended a handful of soaked hazelnuts, a few cloves of garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, tumeric, red pepper flakes, and enough olive oil to make it into a paste. I then massaged it onto some torn up kale and collards (stems removed) and threw it all in my trusty dehydrator overnight.
The result was not perfect, but it was a perfect first try — tasty and with lots of room for improvement. The flavor was good, though I think I oversalted a little. The key points to improve will be the oiliness — they left a little more sheen on my fingers than I would have liked — and the probably related fact that my nut-spice paste fell apart and did not stick to the leaves once it all dried out. I suspect by making the paste more water-based than oil-based next time would address both of those problems. Lemon juice, as listed on that ingredients list, would probably be one good option, and I also wonder how a touch of apple cider vinegar would do.
The kale and collards in the backyard need time to grow back from that bulk harvest, but I’ll give this another shot in a couple weeks. For more ideas, I may conduct some more research by reading ingredient lists on various brands next time I’m at the store. Or maybe I’ll just buy a package. Crazy.