I tried to make kale chips a few years ago when a friend told me how much she swears by this simple, healthy snack. A bad oven and an impatient cook (guilty!) burned them just a little bit. And you know what? They were terrible! But, after tasting some incredibly flavored dehydrated kale chips, I made it my mission to try again and to make them successfully at home — but without a dehydrator. And you know what? It worked! Here's your ticket to healthy-style Doritos. Seriously. If you're fortunate enough to have the pantry space for a dehydrator, then you can just skip the oven directions here and go about your merry way. For those of us who have to rely on an oven to do the trick, it's no surprise that the key is keeping the temperature very low. As in as low as your oven will go. And prepare to wait it out for a few hours while these chips dry out.
The wait is worth it, however. Somehow, the hodgepodge of ingredients come together to taste, well, cheesy. In a good way. Think of these as your healthy Doritos, and they'll disappear as quickly.
Cheesy Kale ChipsServes 2 to 4 as a snack
3/4 cup cashews
1 bunch kale, washed and dried
1/2 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, chopped into large pieces
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup nutritional yeast (not to be confused with Brewer's yeast)
1 lemon, peeled, cut into wedges, and de-seeded as much as possible (a few stragglers are ok)
Cover the cashews with water in a small bowl and let the soak for at least one hour before proceeding.
Preheat oven to the lowest heat setting (mine is 180 degrees). Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Drain cashews and set aside. Trim stems the from each kale leaf and cut each leaf into chip-size pieces.
Add the cashews, red pepper, garlic, soy sauce, oil, and nutritional yeast to a food processor. Scoop the flesh from the lemon and add this to the food processor as well. Blend until smooth. (Alternatively, you can use just the lemon juice for a slightly less bright lemon flavor.)
In a large bowl, combine kale and cashew paste, making sure kale is evenly coated. Place kale pieces on baking sheets allowing space between each piece so they do not touch or overlap. This will take more than one batch, so reserve any remaining kale and refrigerate, covered, until first batch has finished baking.
Bake kale until crisp and completely dry, between 2 and 4 hours. Check after the first hour and turn leaves over. Check kale periodically. Chips will be ready when crunchy and stiff and topping doesn't feel chewy or moist.
Kale chips will keep in an air tight container for one week.
(Images: Stephanie Barlow)