Thursday, 29 August 2013

Cocktail Hour Nibbles: Salt and Smoked Paprika Kale Crisps

Rachel, Dublin

I have an uncharacteristically healthy offering for your cocktail hour nibble this week. Healthfulness is not usually my first priority when it comes to choosing my cocktails or snacks and I can't really see this becoming a long term habit. However, as this gastronomic girl is getting measured for a VID (Very Important Dress) next week the most glamorous cocktail I should really be considering is a sparkling water with a slice of lemon and a slice of lime in it!

While I usually don't have too much trouble resisting sweet treats when I'm on a health fix it's a totally different situation when crisps are involved. Carbs are not my friend but I can't resist the savoury crunch of some tortilla chips or a packet of Tayto. I needed an alternative snack that still gave me that satisfying crunch and salty kick.

When I first came across a recipe for kale crisps I wasn't convinced at all, I thought they'd be chewy and far too cabbage-y in flavour, but something miraculous happens in that short while that they're in the oven. They become ultra-thin and so delicately crispy that they can shatter in your hand.  They will never have that deep crunch of a potato crisp but it's a satisfying alternative and the flavour can be just as exciting as any packet of crisps. I decided to go with salt and smoked paprika which worked well; the kale flavour is still there in the background so be generous with your seasoning.

salt and smoked paprika kale crisps

200g bag of curly kale
1-2 tbsps olive oil (enough to coat the leaves)
1 tsp salt approx (to taste)
quarter tsp smoked paprika

Immerse the kale in a sink one third filled with water and wash it well to get any dirt out of the leaves. Take the leaves out of the water one by one and use kitchen scissors to cut along the thick central stem, discard the stems and tear the remaining parts of the leaf into large bite size pieces. (Don't drain the water from the sink until you have finished all the leaves - all the grit sinks to the bottom while the leaves float, making sure they are clean). Place your leaves in a salad spinner and then on a kitchen towel and blot them with kitchen paper - they need to be as dry as you can get them. Preheat your (fan) oven to 140°c. Place the leaves in a large bowl and pour over the oil, get your hands in the bowl and rub the oil into the leaves making sure it's covering all the little curly bits. Lay the leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet (I had to do three batches) and pop them in the oven for 5 minutes. Keep an eye that they don't get too dark in colour, you want them to be just crispy, not burnt. Grind over some salt as soon as they're out of the oven and sprinkle with smoked paprika. Most delicious eaten immediately but they will keep for a couple of days in an airtight tin as well. If you can resist them for that long.

Word of warning: These crisps are not recommended for eating in the company of anyone you wish to impress (first dates, future mother-in-laws etc.) due to a very high bits-of-crisp-in-teeth danger factor. Not the most glamorous but very tasty I promise!

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