I was thinking about Kale Chips one day (I know, kinda random-what can I say), and how the smaller leaves sometimes disintegrate before you can even get them in your mouth. I love Kale Chips, but they're so delicate, I was wondering if there was a way to sort of bulk them up and make them sturdier.
My first thought was to run the kale through the food processor, spread it thin, and bake it. I was afraid that would just create Kale Crumbs, so rather than running it with the chopper blade, I pulsed it through with the shredder attachment in place. Still concerned it wouldn't hold together, my mind wandered to Pamesan Fricos. That's when you sprinkle a little pile of grated parm on a tray and bake it so it turns into a lacy crisp. If you catch them when they're still warm, you can drape them over little bowls or muffin cups to make bowls out of them for salad, etc. They're really nice if you mix a little basil or some other herb with the cheese.
So okay, how would that turn out with the Parmesan and kale? For some reason, I decided I needed another element, and although I'm not particularly fond of grits, that's what came to mind, so I first tried this with a whole bunch of kale, 1/4 c dry quick-cooking grits, some grated parm and shredded cheddar. We really like the flavor of the chips, but it was obvious that I did not spread it out thin enough. The edges were nice and crispy, but the center was too spongy.
This was my second attempt, and it turned out much better. Because of the first semi-failed attempt, I only used a half bunch of kale this time. It still filled one of our huge trays, so you might want to divide it onto two trays.
1/2 bunch kale
1/2 c quick-cooking grits
1 c water
1 t jarred minced garlic with hot peppers
1 c grated Parmesan
Wash the kale and remove the long woody ends. I did leave the ribs intact, except for a few really thick ones.
Pulse the kale through the food processor with the shredder in place, adding the garlic with one of the batches.
Mix the grits into the water (less water than called for on the package) and microwave for 3" to cook.
Stir the Parmesan into the grits (mmmm, smells good!) until well incorporated and creamy.
Stir the grits mixture into the kale until well combined. It got a little stiff when the grits started to cool, so I switched from my spatula to a wooden spoon so I wouldn't snap the tip off my spatula.
Pour the mixture onto the center of a parchment lined tray (2 if you're splitting the batch), then cover with another sheet of parchment and roll out as thin as possible.
At this point, I used a pizza wheel to score the mixture into squares. I was assuming the cheese would fuse them back together but that it would make it easier to cut later if it turned out crispy like I wanted. I didn't want it to shatter and knew I could just go back over the same lines.
Bake at 350 for about 20" until lightly golden.
Again, the outside was nice and crispy, but the center pieces were still a little soft, so I removed the edge pieces, separated all of the chips and put the tray back in the oven to let the residual heat continue to dry them out.
The final verdict is that I either need to make sure these get eaten right away while they're crisp, keep tweaking, or make smaller batches. They are definitely very tasty though. It was almost like a spinach pie without the phyllo.