I Can’t Stop Cooking (and Eating) These Spicy Salty Kale Crisps
This easy trick will transform kale stalks, broccoli stems, and cauliflower trimmings from scraps to your new favorite salty snacks.
Waste nothing is even more of a mantra in my house these days. To minimize trips to the grocery store we’re scooping the last bit of white out of eggs, running used aluminum foil through the dishwasher, and utilizing just about any vegetable trimming that isn’t brown or fibrous as wood. At the start of quarantine we stocked up on broccoli, cauliflower, and kale knowing they’d keep longer than other more fragile and tender vegetables and we’ve been turning the trimmings and scraps into the tastiest of snacks by seasoning them and roasting them in a hot oven. Oven roasting to the point of toasty concentrated caramelization is by no means new, but the slicing and seasoning is what pushes them into salty snack territory. While most oven roasted vegetable recipes call for diced vegetables, utilizing the stalks and stems and keeping them 2-3 inches in length makes them into perfect finger food. While kale and chard stalks will benefit from being softened in a pan, cauliflower and broccoli don’t need to be pre-cooked in water before going in the oven.
Prep and Boil!
Strip, but don’t discard, the fibrous spines of kale and chard. No need to prepare them when you’re cooking dinner, set ’em aside for later. Don’t worry about them: They’re scraps! They’ll keep a couple days in the fridge. Save up a couple days’ worth (and don’t be afraid to mix and match) so you can roast them up all at once.
Get Ready to Roast!
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Place the scraps on a sheet pan, drizzle generously with olive oil. (Not extra virgin! you don’t want that grassy taste. If you don’t have regular olive oil use a neutral oil like avocado or grapeseed.) How much oil? More than you’re inclined to use. You want these things salty and fatty! Taste the stalks before seasoning them in the pan. They should be ever so slightly salty and flavorful from their time in boiling water. If they’re a little dull or flat, salt them again. Then sprinkle with whatever dried chile you have on hand. I used Majordomo Meat and Fish Spicy Mix (a heavenly combo of chili, Sichuan peppercorns, and other umami-rich ingredients like mushroom powder and very possibly MSG). You can also use ground Aleppo pepper, Sichuan peppercorns, Spanish smoked paprika, cayenne, red pepper flakes, chipotle, or whatever else sounds good to you. Pop them in the oven and cook, turning the vegetables with a spatula or tongs every 7 minutes or so, until caramelized, slightly charred, and just crisp, about 25 minutes total.
Eat Em Up! (or Cook With Them Later)
These are crispiest when they’re hot from the oven. If you can’t devour them immediately, don’t worry: You can dice them up and use them in a frittata, as a salad component, or in a sandwich with some deli meat and cheese. Think of them the way you would sun-dried tomatoes or roasted red peppers: an intensely flavored savory vegetable enriched by olive oil that ennobles anything it’s used in!