Saturday, June 22, 2013

"Cheesy" Dehydrated Vegan Kale Chips - DIY

I'm addicted to kale chips.
But I really want to make them at home.  I couldn't spend $8 on 3 oz of kale chips anymore :(

For a while I baked kale chips in my oven-- at 170 degrees F for 2 hours.  Some came out burnt.  Some recipes recommend baking at 350F for 10-20 min and uses olive oil to help crisp, and I don't find this version satisfying.  Feels like I'm eating a kale flavored puff of air :(

Luckily one of my awesome coworkers decided to gift me her dehydrator that she doesn't use.  And it's changed everything about kale chips.

Chips come out not burnt. Crispy, full of flavor, and with all the nutrients of the raw veggie.
Kale is full of awesome nutrients, and dehydrating it at a low temperature allows for all nutrients to remain potent.

- Dehydrator (a MUST if you want to get these exact results. (THIS GUY has great ratings on Amazon)
- Kale of your choice.  I chose really curly ones. I like the way they look.
- Nutritional Yeast -- I.. had no idea what this was until I started researching how off-the-shelf kale chips were used.  I'm not Vegan, but apparently nutritional yeast is often used in Vegan recipes to provide a "cheesy" flavor.  And it does! And it's got some benefits.  
- Ground cashews, or even cashew butter.  This will give more substance to your kale chips so they aren't super thin pieces of dehydrated veggies.  I get my raw, fresh-ground cashew butter from Whole Foods. It's also available in jars.  I really like the fresh ground kind from Whole Foods-- the texture is perfectly chunky for this.  Nut butters in jars tend to be quite smooth, from my experience.  Whatever floats your boat, though.
- Seasoning (salt, pepper, herbs... etc.) I'll talk about what I used for flavoring.
- Water
- Large bowl, for mixing kale with the dressing.

So this is what nutritional yeast looks like:
I get mine in the bulk section at Whole Foods.  Relatively cheap.

STEP 1 : Make your nut butter "dressing"
I took about 6 oz of ground raw cashew butter, added approx. 3/4-1 cup water, 1 Tbsp each of basil and oregano, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp of chipotle powder, 1/2 tsp each of sale and pepper and mixed it all together to form a paste.  Paste should be pretty thick. Start with 1/2 cup water and keep adding until it comes together like wet sand. Set aside.
Sorry if that looks gross.  I had just recently dunked my fingers in there.

STEP 2: Prepare Kale
No special equipment needed.  Rinse.  Rips off pieces from the stem with your hands, stick it in a large bowl.  
 I've got a knife in this photo but I didn't use it to prepare the kale pieces.

You don't have to be really precise with this step.

STEP 3: Mix Kale and Dressing
Using your hands, rub in the thick dressing mixture into the kale pieces.  I've tried not using my hands, using everything else but I swear hands work best.  And yes, you're going to get cashew paste all over your hands but who cares, you're in the kitchen.  Rub so that a thing layer of the dressing has more or less evenly covered the kale pieces.
Small chunks of cashew paste here and there is fine.  Break up any larger than pea size chunks or else you may have dehydrating inconsistency.

STEP 4: Dehydrate
Fill the layers of your dehydrator with dressed up kale. 

Plug it in and let it work.  Mine has one setting: On.  I have no idea how hot it gets, but I was done in 3-4 hours. You may dehydrate at a lower temperature for longer time period-- play with your settings and keep an eye on it.  I DO NOT recommended leaving it over night for your first try at this until you know what to expect from your machine.

And then.. that's it!

4 layers of deliciousness that probably won't last too long.
Try them with other nuts (or even without nuts, whatever!) and I'm sure it's just as delicious. 

Have you made Kale chips before?  What have your experiences been like? Would love to hear about it.


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