I spend a lot of time baking and creating sweet things.
While yes, having a rather large sweet tooth is definitely a part of this, the other reason is that creating baked goods without eggs, dairy, gluten, rice, etc is really difficult. It’s a lot easier to make a savory dish, where you can saute and deglaze and braise with stock, oils, and vinegar, without having to worry about replacing the binding and rising properties of eggs or substituting that oh-so-familiar texture that only flour can create. A little experimentation can lead to fabulous results without too much extra research, effort, and failures.
Cooking is mostly about flavor; baking is mostly about texture.
The things we use to create flavor are generally pretty allergy-safe. The ingredients that create texture are generally not. Hence, baking is by far the greater challenge. It’s hard to find the time to experiment and figure out what works. This is why I do a lot of baking: so that you don’t have to, and in that last-minute rush before a get-together when you’ve been assigned to bring a dessert and have no idea where to look for an edible recipe, there is a database of options.
But what if you’re supposed to bring an appetizer instead?
It’s easy to make a large, savory main dish. There are plenty of resources about making allergy-free desserts. But appetizers and snacks? Instructions for those are harder to come by. Perhaps, though, that is because you only need to know one recipe: the kale chip recipe.
Savory, sweet, crunchy, salty and a little soft all at once, these little bites of heaven are both healthy and delectable. They don’t keep particularly well, but that’s not really a problem; they’re generally gone within the first 20 minutes after they emerge from the oven.
Go get yourself some kale.
Kale can be an intimidating vegetable. Don’t be scared. This will be worth it, I promise. Feel free to use Dinosaur kale, but my favorite is the more traditional Lacinato kale.
1 bushel of kale, washed
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cloves of fresh garlic
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Pull apart the bushel of kale into individual leaves. Cut out the large stem running through the middle and discard. Cut the remaining leaf into pieces between 1″ x 1″ and 2″ x 2″.
Dry the kale in paper towels and toss into a bowl. Mince the garlic very finely or put it through a garlic press. Add the garlic to the kale, along with the salt and cayenne (if you want the extra spice). I use more salt than listed in this recipe, but I love salt. And these really are much better with sea salt than plain old table salt, but of course will work either way.
Add the olive oil and toss everything until all of the kale leaves are coated.
Spread the kale in one single layer onto a baking sheet. You may have to use two baking sheets to get all the kale in the oven, or go in batches. Don’t let the leaves sit on top of each other, though, or the kale will just end up soggy.
Pop the pans into the oven for 8-10 minutes, until the kale is crispy and some of the pieces are beginning to brown around the edges. Feel free to taste test to make sure the kale is appropriately crispy, but do watch closely lest the kale burns.
Eat immediately, either straight off of the baking sheet or out of a bowl, if they make it that far!