Forgotten Kale

kale 3

This is kale that’s been sitting in a 280-degree (Fahrenheit; that’s 137 Celsius) oven for a really long time. I’m not exactly sure how long, but it was at least an hour. And once it cooled off enough to eat, it was spectacular.

The key here, other than the low temperature, is massaging the kale with olive oil and a pinch of salt. It’s not enough just to pour the oil on, you’ve got to make sure the leaves are coated. The kale starts out like this:

kale 1

And should look like this right before you put it in the oven:

kale 2

Roasting kale in the oven is something we’ve been doing for a while, but the idea for the oil massage came from “crack broccoli” — broccoli with oil, salt, and a little bit of sugar massaged in, then roasted on a cookie sheet at 500 degrees. You don’t want to add sugar to the kale; I tried that once and it was nasty. And high temperatures don’t work either. The leaves burn too easily.

So I kept turning the temperature down, and eventually landed at 280. After 30 to 40 minutes, that gets you some pretty good crispy kale. But one night last week we had friends visiting from Australia. There were small children involved, an overexcited dog, and … at some point I walked into the kitchen and realized it smelled kale-ish. I had completely forgotten that it was in the oven. I figured the stuff would be ruined, but it turns out that no, at 280 degrees, it just keeps getting better. Just the right amount of crispy. Just the right amount of oily. Not burned at all.

By that point it may also have lost all its nutritional value. But really, who cares?

Update: It turns out this works even better at 250 degrees. I also cooked it at 180 once by mistake, and that didn’t work at all.

Update 2: Lately we’ve settled on 275 degrees as the best temperature, although 250 may be better if you’re actually likely to forget it.

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