Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Maple Onion Kale Chips

When I first became intimate with a garden (and a gardener) I did not enjoy kale. At least I thought I didn’t. It was dark green. And everyone knows that things that are dark green are bitter and taste like they are too good for you. How wrong I was!

And so began my love affair with kale (the darker the better) and swiss chard and all things dark green. It turns out that kale and swiss chard leaves are lovely and tender when they are harvested in baby size. The grown up version with the larger leaves can also be eaten raw but I prefer these mixed with other lighter fare greens. Any size of kale can be steamed just a little on its own with some lemon and salt or chopped and dropped into soups, scrambled eggs, stir fries, pasta dishes, mashed potatoes or spread onto pizza. I made an omelette with feta cheese, smoked salmon and swiss chard the other day that had me wanting to shout about it in the streets.

But you know me. I didn’t stop there. I took some raw black/dinosaur kale (the flatter, less curly variety) and cut it up into 2 inch squares or so (remove the stem, although you don’t have to if you don’t mind the extra crunch), and marinated it in some oily business.

I have tried two different oily businesses. One with just lemon and olive oil with salt and pepper and one with my red onion ‘jam’ that went awry.

I digress again to tell you about the last fresh man standing in my cold storage from last year’s harvest – the red onions. There was a blog post all about them not that long ago.
I took a pile of these onions and decided to make a red onion jam. I had done it before and enjoyed it immensely beside pork or chicken or pureed with grated cheese and sour cream or mayo for a fantastic veggie dip. Unfortunately I put too much balsamic vinegar in the mix and it came out less jam and more salad-dressing type thing. So a happy accident was born. It was time to find new uses for my favourite things. The best one so far is a kale marinade.

The marinade needs ringed red onions and oil, a huge gulp of maple syrup, a long stream of balsamic vinegar and some salt. Once the onions are caramelized/softened over low heat in some olive oil, I added the other ingredients and stuffed it into jars hot so that the jars would seal. They seem to be surviving on the shelf not too bad.

When the time was right and I was about a day shy of needing my kale chips, I chopped up the kale and soaked the pieces in a large bowl in the red onion marinade pureed with a little extra olive oil. I did up a half-pound of kale with one 250ml jar of marinade and probably 1/2 cup of olive oil but I doubt you'll want to do that much at once. With my hands, I tossed the marinade into the pieces of kale until all of the leaves were completely covered. They shouldn’t be soaking wet but they need to show a shiny glisten to both sides of each leaf. Work it in thoroughly as needed.

Marinaded Raw Kale Pieces (or Kale Salad)

The good news is, that after a few hours in the fridge (I soaked mine overnight), you can stop here and have a marvelous salad with your meal. If you are feeling ambitious you can keep going by lining them flat out in your dehydrator and send them around for 3-4 hours at 115F until they are crisp but still bendable without breaking. Pile the chips into a sealed container and store in the fridge (although they technically could be fine on the counter, or maybe even better directly into your stomach). If they are dehydrated enough, they should hold their crisp and last a few days (unlike the full heat oven method where they turn to mush after a few hours).

Maple Onion Kale Chips

They are crunchy wonders of green that melt in your mouth. Kids love them. The sweetness of the balsamic and maple syrup make them bordering on illegal in my opinion. And they do taste dark green.

But we’ve all learned now not to shy away from dark green. That’s where the good stuff lives. Not to mention the plethora of B vitamins that are likely responsible for this annoyingly cheery blog post.

Over and out. Happy Kale Chip making.

1 comment:

  1. I remember your red onion post and promptly planted some this year. I have chard, spinach and even mustard greens planted too but shied away from kale cause I just wasn't sure. But oh your maple onion Kale chips look tantalizing and I could use a little "B" loaded cheer. Thanks for another inspiring and healthy recipe :)


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