I’m sharing my obsession with two different vegetable preparations – Crispy Smashed Potatoes and Roasted Kale Chips. I’ve hesitated to post them because in my commitment to give you a main dish recipe, I hate to take a weekly post with a side dish. The other reason is that cauliflower is supposed to be this year’s vegetable darling. So although I like to stay ahead of the food trends I am thinking of your best interest in good eating, too.
If you haven’t made kale chips, it’s time. They taste good and they’re a different way to serve a vegetable. And doesn’t everybody like something crunchy and a little salty? And they’re healthy. I’m repeating myself here, but for any of you not aware of this kale is rated as one of the top vegetables in terms of nutritional nutrients. What’s not to love about that?
To make the kale preparation easier I have posted multiple photos so you can get a visual of how to roast them. I use the flat leaf style “Tuscan” kale that is also referred to as “Lacinato”, “Black leaf” or “Dinosaur” kale because I like how the leaves are a little tender and I think the flavor is a little less bitter. You can also use the curly leaf kale that is more readily available at almost all grocery stores. The three most important things to remember are to remove the center rib from each leaf, dry the leaves after washing and to make sure the olive oil is rubbed lightly into the leaves before roasting. The seasoning is up to you. You can sprinkle on soy sauce, seasoning salt, sesame seeds or any other seasoning that sounds good to you.
Tuscan Kale Leaves
- 1 bunch Tuscan kale (also called lacinato, dinosaur or black kale) or curly kale
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon seasoning salt or 1 tablespoon soy sauce or Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
- Sesame seeds, optional
- Wash kale leaves; cut off ends of stems and remove thick center stem by folding leaf in half lengthwise and pinching to tear it away (the top two inches of rib stem can be left as it is not too hard). Tear leaves into approximately 3 inch pieces.
- Pat leaves dry between a clean kitchen towel or paper towels then put in a large bowl. Drizzle olive oil evenly leaves then toss with tongs or rub leaves with your fingers to distribute oil. Sprinkle seasoning salt, salt and pepper to taste or soy sauce soy sauce evenly over leaves and toss to coat.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
- Transfer leaves to two baking sheets and arrange in a single layer.
- Put on the middle rack in the oven and roast in oven until leaves look dry and are crisp, about 20 minutes, rotating sheet pans halfway through cooking if you put the pans on different racks in the oven.
- Remove from oven and using a metal spatula lift leaves off pan and onto a rack to cool.
Small Red Potatoes
Now onto the potatoes… I have to admit I am in love with these Smashed Potatoes. I had them for the first time when my husband ordered them in a restaurant while we were on vacation and I was hooked. The combination of their creamy, light texture smashed to a thickness that takes on the flavor of the olive oil, the crispness from frying and the caramelizing from roasting is just too good. They smell like French fries when they are cooking, even though you are not using buckets of oil to fry them.
And relatively speaking this preparation is healthy, especially when compared to so many other potato dishes like mashed potatoes, gratin potatoes or even baked potatoes that most of us load up with butter and sour cream to make more enticing. These don’t need anything except the salt, pepper and olive oil because they rely on the natural flavor of the potato. So be sure to pick your potatoes wisely. I like to choose the smaller ones and organic if you can find them.
After you have tried them as a side dish for grilled chicken or a steak or something like that, try them as an amazing little appetizer. After you have roasted them, sprinkle on grated cheese, bacon, sour cream or minced green onions. Or drizzle on a vinaigrette dressing or pesto. Or whatever you like to eat with potatoes and line them up on a platter and watch them disappear.
- 1-1/2 to 2 pounds small red or yellow potatoes
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Wash potatoes and put in a saucepan with water to cover by a few inches and a large pinch of salt; bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer and cook until potato slips off the tip of a knife when inserted in the center, about 15-20 minutes, but don’t overcook. Drain potatoes and allow cooling about 10 minutes until they can be handled.
- Put a few potatoes on a clean kitchen towel or paper towels and cover with the other half of the towel; gently press potato to “smash” to about ¾ inch thickness. Repeat with all potatoes (potatoes can be prepared up to this step, covered and refrigerated until ready to cook. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking).
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. (or to 400 degrees F. convection bake or roast).
- In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and when oil is hot, add potatoes in a single layer; sprinkle with salt and pepper and allow cooking until browned and crisp, about 3-4 minutes; turn potatoes and repeat. Transfer browned potatoes to a baking sheet. Bake about 8-10 minutes to further crisp and brown potatoes.