Even before her days cooking at L.A.'s Spago, Giada De Laurentiis was never shy about the foods she loves. For now, the Cordon Bleu–trained super chef has a thing for kale. That's fortunate, because at the moment kale figures high on most superfood lists as one of the world's most nutrient-rich dark, leafy vegetables, one that pulls valuable double duty as an appetite suppressant and disease fighter.
Fortifying foods like kale are crucial for high achievers like De Laurentiis, who churns out cookbooks, stars in cooking shows, and on June 3 opened her first restaurant, GIADA, at the swish Cromwell Las Vegas hotel, where her dinner menu is full of lightened-up contemporary Italian dishes like Spaghetti with Shrimp, Lemon, and Basil.
RELATED: The Top 10 Healthiest Fruits and Vegetables
In her professional life and at home, DeLaurentiis gives thanks for the delicious taste of kale – which she likens to spinach – in a recipe for a between-meal snack that may taste more like a treat than a restorative: baked kale and sweet potato chips, from her latest cookbook, Giada's Feel Good Food.
Giada De Laurentiis's Baked Kale and Sweet Potato Chips
These are a "gourmet twist on traditional chips and dip, and if you've never tasted kale, you're in for a huge treat," says De Laurentiis. "They're really, really good."
(Serves 4 as a snack)
1 medium sweet potato (8 oz), unpeeled, washed, and dried
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 large kale leaves, washed
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
For Sweet Potatoes
- Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 F.
- Cut a little off the top and bottom of the potato. Using a mandoline slicer or a sharp knife, slice the sweet potato into 1/8-inch-thick slices. A mandoline "cuts the potatoes so thin that they're light as air," says De Laurentiis.
- Put slices in a bowl and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Toss well, then massage slices with oil and salt.
- Spread them all out in a single layer on parchment-lined baking sheets. Slices should not overlap, otherwise they will steam instead of crisping.
- Bake for 12 minutes. Turn the slices over and continue to bake, checking every 2 minutes, until golden brown and crisp, 6–8 minutes longer.
- Season chips with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper.
- Remove thick ribs and stems from kale leaves and discard. Cut leaves into 2- and 3-inch pieces.
- Put in a bowl and drizzle with the remaining 1 tbsp oil, or enough to completely coat the leaves. If not fully coated, the kale will stick to the sheet pan.
- Bake kale until crisp and slightly dark around the edges, 10–12 minutes. Season with the remaining 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Let chips cool before serving. The kale chips become "as light as paper and really thin, and they kind of melt in your mouth," De Laurentiis says.
Serve kale and sweet potato chips together in one bowl or in separate bowls. You could accompany chips with a dip, such as Greek-style plain yogurt, grated garlic, and a splash of olive oil mixed with finely grated lemon zest and a little sea salt.