December 1: Kale

Kale is the perfect rugged New England vegetable, hardy right through the fall and sweeter for the cold temperatures.  Local farmers grow traditional curly kale, but also flat-leafed varieties, red kale and dark green lacinato or “dinosaur” kale.  For the simplest preparation, sauté it hot in olive oil until slightly browned, adding a chopped clove of garlic and a splash of red wine or balsamic vinegar added at the end.

I’ve made simple kale chips by tossing kale leaves with olive oil and salt or tamari, then roasting in the oven until crispy.  I learned about more complicated and flavorful versions from CISA staffers Claire Morenon and Sam Stegeman, who were trading tips last summer.  Most important, Sam explained to me that you don’t try to paint each kale leaf with the flavoring mixture, you just pour the sauce over the kale leaves in a bowl and massage them together with your hands.

Although I’ve included amounts here, I make this recipe up every time I make it.  Please vary the recipe according to your tastes and the contents of your cupboards.  They are very good!

Spicy Kale Chips

1 bunch kale, with stems removed
¾ cup cashews
2 tbs nutritional yeast
1 tbs miso
1 or 2 jalapenos (these can be frozen whole in season, then thrown directly from the freezer into the food processor with the other ingredients—or remove the seeds if  you’d like it less hot)
2 tbs cider vinegar
tamari to taste

In the summer, I’ve added a sweet red pepper if I had one, and this time of year, I might add a chopped carrot.

Mix all ingredients (except the kale) in a food processor until they form a paste.  Add a little bit of warm water until it is just pourable, then pour over kale in a big bowl.  Mix it all up together with your hands until the leaves are coated.

Spread kale leaves out on a big cookie sheet and bake in your oven until dry, or spread on the racks of a dehydrator and use that to dry them.  If you use your oven, the temperature can depend on whether or not you are in a hurry, but remember to watch them more carefully if you roast them at a hotter temperature.