Donna’s Day: Hail to Kale! Make cheesy kale chips with kids

Nora Cornell douses olive oil on cut-up kale for kale chips.

By Donna Erickson

Signal Contributing Writer

Hail to kale! I’m not sure what brought the green, leafy, good-for-you veggie into such renown, but try to open a foodie magazine or blog without some recipe bowing to its virtues. I’ve been following the trend and now dutifully toss it into stir fries and salads, and even let it stand alone all spiced up in our family’s most recent obsession — kale chips.
While kale chip recipes abound, I found the best, foolproof technique from Tricia Cornell, mom of two, freelance writer and author of the book “Eat More Vegetables: Making the Most of Your Seasonal Produce” (Minnesota Historical Society Press).
The cookbook is chock full of easy-to-follow “family friendly, get kids involved” veggie recipes such as her tasty take on “Squash Chili” and “Soupe au Pistou.” True to form, she has the kale-chip-making technique down to a science. “When my kids clamor for kale chips, who am I to refuse?” she said as her 7-year-old old son Arlo chopped up the kale, and 9-year-old Nora grated Parmesan for the chips that would accompany their hamburger sliders supper. “I want the chips to be tasty and crispy every time we make them,” she said.
Pick up a bunch at your local market and enjoy making and tasting these light, crunchy treats with your kids.

Makes 4 cups
1 large bunch kale (12 ounces), both Lacinato and curly kale work well.
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or 1/2 teaspoon pepper flakes

Here’s the fun:
Heat oven to 400 F.
Trim off the long, tough center stems from kale and discard. Slice leaves into 1- to 2-inch pieces and place in a large bowl. Pour oil, cheese, salt and pepper over kale, and massage kale well with your hands, making sure every piece is covered, but not dripping, with oil.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and spread kale in a single layer. Place in oven and immediately reduce heat to 250 F.
Bake about 20 minutes, until crisp, stirring kale and turning pans halfway through. It’s important to keep an eagle eye toward the end; you want crisp, not brown.
When completely cool, serve. If there are any leftovers, store in airtight container up to three days.
Variation: Barbecue Kale Chips
Omit Parmesan and pepper. Stir 1 teaspoon “pimenton de la vera” (smoked Spanish paprika) and 1/2 teaspoon sugar into the salt before adding.

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