I got to chatting the other day about gluten-free foods that aren’t any good. The lackluster ones aren’t worth the digital ink it would take to talk about them.

My co-chatter agreed, citing a particularly heinous kale chip she’d eaten and tried to forget.

And I was flabbergasted. Well, ok, that word is a bit strong. But I was at the least surprised. Now, I’ve never had store-bought kale chips – but that’s only because they’re so easy to make at home that I could never justify the price. The thought that they might be not only expensive, but untasty?

A travesty. The homemade kale chip is a minor deity in my gluten-free pantheon, and I’d like to take today and evangelize a little bit.

Even in this season so starved of fresh produce, kale somehow manages to miraculously appear in my supermarket for less than $1/bunch. Even if it’s not on sale, it’s never an expensive vegetable. And, of course, it’s very naturally gluten-free.

Sometimes we steam kale, or stew it, or eat it raw (I like it with lupini beans, pecorino and a lemon vinaigrette, similar to a tasty kale salad from Northern Spy). It’s got a pretty spotless nutrition record (click for link to Self.com).

But most of the time, we chip it. Kale chips are quick, cheap, easy, addictive, flexible, innocent…they’re everything I want in a food except for chocolatey. They’re crisp, and make the most delicious sounds as you toss them into your mouth. They’re light, so the whole bowl sometimes disappears before you realize what you’ve done.

And did I mention the cheap and easy part? Here’s the basic recipe:

  • Bunch of kale
  • Glug of olive oil
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • First, rinse the kale and dry it thoroughly. It’s really key to get as much water off as possible so the chips are crispy; if you think of it, rinse the kale a few hours in advance.
  • When you’re ready, preheat your oven to 350 °F.
  • Tear the kale into chip-sized pieces, whatever that means to you. Mine are usually about 3 inches square, or so. You may want to avoid the thickest part of the ribs; save them for soup or stewing if you’d like.
  • Toss the kale with the olive oil – about a tablespoon to start, and more if need be. You want to use your fingers and get the olive oil into the leaves a bit, so that they have a nice shine but aren’t dripping or greasy.
  • Lay them on any sort of baking tray or cookie sheet, being careful not to overlap. You may have to put a few batches in one after the other.
  • Sprinkle with salt and pop into the oven. Depending on the size of the leaves and the heat of your oven, they’ll be done in 7-15 minutes. Check after 5; you want the leaves to be mostly crisp to the touch, but still green.
  • Remove from oven, and enjoy.

Next time around, play with seasonings a bit. Some Sriracha and honey? Smoked paprika and pepper flakes? Truffled salt?  The sky’s the limit, and you’re bound to find something you like.

Have you made gluten-free kale chips? What are your secrets?

Oh, and before I forget: happy gluten-free Valentine’s Day, folks. I bet if you make these for your loved ones, they’ll love you just that much more.