If you have ever resolved to eat more vegetables (or to have a largely vegetable-based diet) you will know that one of the great problems is that vegetables tend to go off very quickly. They certainly can’t outlive frozen ready-meals and boxes of mac and cheese, but just eggs and cheese will well outlast a mixed salad or bunch of asparagus. Almost half the world’s food is thrown away, and I have certainly been responsible for some of this waste.* The problem I have always faced is that the healthier and more responsibly I try to eat, the worse the waste gets – the more vegetables I buy, the more I need to throw out at the end of the week. It would be great to buy fresh produce every day, but even then you often end up with a larger quantity than you need to make a particular meal, which means you always have half a bunch of chives languishing in the vegetable drawer. Plus, I like to buy my fruit and vegetables at our local farmers’ market, which is only on once a week.
Well I have finally worked out a system that could at least help to remedy this problem. Essentially, cooked vegetables can often last longer than raw. If you have bought ingredients for a soup, for example, you should make that soup right away, and you can store it in the freezer for months (I store mine in individual portions in ziplock bags). And if, like me, you see the beautiful large bunches of kale at the farmers’ market and think how lovely it would be to make kale chips? Keep in mind that kale chips last a lot longer than raw kale. It is going to take a lot more planning, but after my shop every week I am going to resolve to pre-make any food I had planned to make during the week that would last longer than its individual components would uncooked.
Spicy Sesame Kale Chips
(Makes two bowls worth)
1 large bunch of kale (you can use any kind – I used crinkly kale)
3 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of black or white sesame seeds
Preheat your oven to 150°C (300°F). Wash the kale and dry very well (if it is still wet when it goes in the oven it won’t go crispy). Cut out any hard stems, and then roughly cut up your kale leaves. Remember that they will shrink as they bake, so don’t worry about making them a little big. Toss together the kale, sesame oil, cayenne pepper and two teaspoons of salt in a large bowl. Make sure that you don’t get a very large amount of cayenne sticking to one leaf. Remember that cayenne is very hot, so only 1/4 teaspoon will be enough to make your chips spicy – any more and they will have a very strong kick to them.
Cover one or two baking sheets with baking paper (you don’t want to crowd the kale or it won’t go crispy), and lay out the kale. Place in the oven and bake until crispy – this should take slightly over 10 minutes.
While the kale is baking, pour the sesame seeds into a frying pan and dry-toast them, shaking the pan often so that they don’t burn. If you have white sesame seeds they are done when they begin to darken. For black sesame seeds it is harder to tell – they should toast for around 4 minutes and start smelling good.
When the kale is done, remove it from the oven and allow to cool. Toss together with the sesame seeds and more salt, if desired.
Store out of the fridge in an airtight container.
*While a lot of food wastage is at a commercial level, according to this article about half of the domestically-purchased food in the US and Europe ends up being thrown out.