This green, leafy vegetable appears at the top of the list for nutrient density – calorie for calorie, it packs the more nutrients than nearly any other food you can buy. As part of my project to eat less of better foods, I decided to try it – but I don’t know how to eat the stuff.
I had it once, stir-fried. It was really tough and somewhat bitter, if I recall correctly. I could understand why it has so many nutrients – it lies on that same moral continuum of ‘the better it tastes the worse it is for you’ – which is why deep-fried french fries taste so good.
Actually, I had heard someone say that the phytochemicals in plants are compounds that evolved over hundreds of millions of years to protect themselves since they can’t get up and run away from trouble. Somehow, these compounds have some similar effect on us as well. I guess that potato hiding underground doesn’t need the same level of protection as the kale.
This almost doesn’t count as a recipe, as it’s just kale, oil and salt. It’s really more like a technique. I first preheated the oven to 375, then I took the washed kale and pulled off all the stalks and stems – essentially, anything that gave resistance when ripped was ripped out.
A lot of stems went in the trash, but there was still an entire cookie sheet of greens. I then just sprayed the top side of the ripped up kale with olive oil cooking spray until coated, then sprinkled some salt on top of that.
Into the oven for maybe 6-7 minutes – I wasn’t timing this all that accurately. I took it out and parts had stared to brown. I flipped the leaves over as best I could and put it back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes or so.
When it was done, there were some green parts and some brown parts. The greens were soft and sweet – did some sort of carmelization occur? This wasn’t the hard and bitter stuff I had before.
But it was the browned parts that were amazing. They were crunchy – and as I bit into one I said: these things taste like potato chips.
My wife looked at my experiment dubiously, then cautiously took a bit. She made a surprised ‘yum’ sound and went back for more, zeroing in on the brown parts. I offered some to my daughter, who looked about as pleased as a cat that just became aware it was going to get a bath. She tried a bit – gave a similar surprised look – then asked for more.
For two days my wife and daughter have been asking when I am going to make more kale.
When a 10-year-old asks for more kale, you know that the recipe has to be incredible.