Hold up. A kale review??
My rules for this blog are simple. I can review anything with the words "Trader Joe's" in its name. So then, I give you KALE! Kale is one of my boring Trader Joe's staples. I normally get the $1.99 just plain kale (that's not the name, it doesn't have a name. It's kale!), but I wanted to make this soup, so I splurged the extra $0.30 for the organic kale with a fancy name from California. Definitely kind of yuppie. Definitely not local. Definitely not eco-friendly. But delicious!
TJ's was nice enough to include how-to-prep instructions three different ways on the back. Oh the benefits of excessive packaging. I haven't bothered to follow any of the directions, because 1) the microwave can only do so much for any vegetable 2) ain't nobody got 35 minutes to sit there and flip kale chips every 10 minutes and 3) the kale chips were so good I'm saving the rest of the bag to make more.
They're just trying to be helpful, but they're making a very easy process unnecessarily complicated.
Easy Kale Chips
Dump onto baking sheet covered with foil or parchment paper.
Make sure the kale is in a SINGLE LAYER. No merging. One-lane only. Otherwise it'll steam.
Drizzle with olive oil. How much? Enough so it glistens but not drenched.
Toss. With your hands. With chopsticks. With whatever.
Bake 350 for 20 minutes. Or 25 minutes. 35 is too long. They'll be dead by then. Maybe a tbsp. Depends how much kale you use.
Toss with sea salt or whatever suits your fancy. Usually I season before I bake but I seasoned afterward for this time, and it came out fine.
I found that 20 minutes allowed the kale to crisp sufficiently to my liking and the fibrous stems to become nice and chewy. These taste better than seaweed. The tuscan kale comes in larger pieces than the normal kale, which helps. Kale shrinks when cooked, so the larger the piece the larger the chip. They're still moderately bite-sized but for kale chips especially bigger is better. Y'all gotta get on this!
These were leftover kale chips made from the regular TJ's kale. Crispy but they could be used as confetti or something because the shreds are so small.
Be warned that while kale chips are darn good, they're still vegetable-ly. They're not potato chips by any means. So if you hate vegetables, you might not like them. But if you hate vegetables, maybe you should try these. Maybe these will help you eat vegetables!
Below is kale used for soup. It came out okay. Nothing earth shattering there. It's hard to grade vegetables because there's so much room for user error. And when you cook kale, it tastes like...kale. Kind of like how every Chinese leafy green tastes like cousins of each other. I mean they're sort of different by nature of each individual vegetable but not really. It is what it is. It tastes fine, and you eat it. I'm glad we're talking about vegetables and not family. Imagine the trouble it would cause to say all your cousins are more or less the same, y'all get along fine, and you just deal with them. Cuz they're there.
The soup was alright. I think normal kale would have sufficed.
Will I now splurge the extra $0.30 each time for the organic stuff? Well...on one hand, kale made the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen Plus list for likelihood of containing residual pesticides. On the other hand, it is being shipped across the entire country from California. Probably not in a car with nice gas mileage. But then again, so is every other Trader Joe's product. So if I were ACTUALLY uber-environmentally-conscious, I probably wouldn't shop at Trader Joe's and this blog wouldn't exist. Environment and pesticides aside, I'd probably get it again simply for the kale chips. The packaged kale chips at TJ's runs in the $3 range. I haven't tasted them and I probably won't because I can squeeze out 3 or 4 servings of kale chips from this one bag that costs $2.29. So yes. I shall repurchase.
TL;DR: Trader Joe's Organic Tuscan Kale. Makes some pretty good kale chips. 8 out of 10.