I've been sort of on a kale chip kick lately.
It sort of came out of necessity. I've been receiving weekly deliveries of vegetables from my Siena Farms farm share, and kale regularly makes a showing. Although there are millions of ways to prepare kale, I like making chips because
1) it's easy;
2) Bryan really likes it; and
3) it's a great snack.
Usually I go the easy route: coat a tray full of ripped kale leaves with a little bit of oil (having a mister is really helpful!), add just a bit of salt and pepper (not too much, cuz the leaves shrink!), and bake.
Earlier this year, Bryan brought home a bag of these really expensive store-bought raw kale chips from the Napa Farms Market at SFO. Even though the tiny bag cost $8 (!!), I fell in love with it and craved for more.
An Example of a weekly farm share from Siena Farms - so colorful!
The ingredient list included cashews, nutritional yeast, and red bell peppers. A quick search online revealed recipes very similar to the ingredients on the package. I longed to try making that version at home, except I was too lazy to figure out what "nutritional yeast" was, and where I could get it. Apparently, it gives a "cheesy" flavor in a vegan-friendly way.
The other night, as I stared down yet another bunch of kale, I decided that it was finally time.
I was going to conquer the cashew-crusted kale chip . . . on my own terms.
I thought to myself, "it already tastes pretty good with just salt and oil. I bet if I crushed up some cashews and made a modified version it would still be pretty tasty."
It just so happened I had received a few jars of innovative sauces to test from The Saucey Sauce Company, a Brooklyn-based family-owned business from siblings Ken and Toan, who use Vietnamese fish sauce as a base for their creative and flavorful marinades and sauces.
I threw a handful of roasted cashews that I had lying around (a big bulk container from Costco), half of a red bell pepper from my farm share, a few cloves of garlic, a splash of soy sauce, and a splash of Spicy Garlic sauce from The Saucey Sauce Company.
I blended this in my food processor until it became a rough paste, and then using my hands, I mixed it in with the kale.
After baking for about 20-30 minutes at 290 ° F (convection oven), out came these gorgeous, cashew encrusted chips.
They were phenomenal.
Fish sauce naturally has a lot of umami, and it added a lovely kick to this sauce. The chili wasn't too spicy, so it was easy to eat lots and lots of these chips (which is exactly what I did). Without the nutritional yeast, these did not taste "cheesy." Instead, they had a Southeast Asian bent - the deep, rich umami from the fish sauce, the soy sauce, and the garlic all made this taste Asian, which I loved.
It's a bit more work, but I think it's totally worth it. These chips were fantastic.
I haven't tried making this with another sauce, but if you aren't able to get the spicy garlic sauce, you can try substituting with a mixture of straight up Vietnamese fish sauce, a touch of Sriracha or chili garlic sauce and a splash of lemon juice.
Spicy Garlic Cashew Crusted Kale Chips
1 cup cashews (I used roasted and salted)
1 T Spicy Garlic Sauce
1 T soy sauce
½ red bell pepper, cut into a few pieces
1 bunch of kale leaves, torn into 2-3 inch pieces, ribs removed
1-2 cloves of garlic (optional if your sauce has garlic in it)
Combine cashews, red pepper, soy sauce, and spicy garlic sauce in a food processor and pulse until a paste is formed. Getting your hands dirty, rub the paste over the kale leaves. Place the kale leaves in single layer on baking sheets, and bake at 290 ° F with convection for 30 minutes, rotating tray at least once half way through.
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