My mom is a much better gardener than I am. That much became very clear when she showed up at my house with pounds and pounds of delicious looking chard.
It was extra. But it was some of the best looking chard I’ve ever seen so I happily accepted it.
When she left I was kind of at a loss as to what to do with it. Sure, I could just sautee it with some lemon and olive oil, but we did that the night before. So I decided to try a technique that’s typically used with kale: baking the leaves into crunchy chips!
It’s a bit of a tricky process, but I really liked the results.
1) Wash chard well. Cut out ribs from each leaf. Dry leafs really well with paper towels.
2) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
3) Toss chard with olive oil and sesame seeds if you're using them.
4) Spread out chard leaves on baking sheets, making sure the leaves don't overlap. You'll probably have to work in batches.
5) Bake leaves for 4 minutes, then check them. Some might be done, some might need flipped and cooked for another minute or so.
6) Let chips cool for a few minutes before eating.
Preparing the Chard
In the scheme of things, chard is a pretty sturdy leafy green. It can withstand a lot, but it does have a hard time in a 400 degree oven which is where it will be going. So it’s really important that you take the time to prepare it correctly for this journey.
Step one is to wash it off really well. Chard has a tendency to trap all kinds of dirt in those little veins. So rinse them off well.
Then go through each leaf and cut out the big rib that runs down the center. That big thing just won’t cook in the short amount of time these will be in the oven, so get rid of it.
I recommend leaving the leaves pretty big because they will shrink some in the oven.
Drying the Chard
This gets its own section because it’s probably the most important part of this whole process. You have to dry off each leaf really well. Yes. This is definitely a pain in the you-know-what, but it’s the only way to make sure your leaves are crispy instead of soggy.
Even a little bit of water on a leaf will turn to steam and steam the leaf instead of it getting crispy. So lay out a few paper towels and press the leaves really well in batches to make sure they are dry. You don’t have to do them one at a time or anything, but don’t do them all at once either!
Once the leaves are dry you’re ready to make some chips! Be sure your oven is pre-heated to 400 degrees. You want it nice and hot when you put the leaves in.
There are really only two other ingredients that are necessary for this recipe: oil and salt. I like to sprinkle on some sesame seeds also which are tasty and have an added benefit of keeping the leaves slightly off the baking sheet so they don’t stick as badly.
In a large bowl, toss the leaves with the olive oil. You want them lightly coated, but they shouldn’t be dripping with oil. They should just have a nice shine on them. If you’re using sesame seeds, add them to the bowl and toss them around so the leaves are well-coated.
Then lay them out on a baking sheet so they aren’t over-lapping and sprinkle them with a bit of salt.
These are ready for the oven.
Cooking the Leaves
You want to cook these guys at 400 degrees for about 4 minutes. Then take them out and check on them. Some of them might be done, some might need flipping, some might just need another minute or so. There’s no way any of them will take longer than five minutes.
Also, don’t freak out if you lose a few. Some might end up getting too burned or sticking to the baking sheet. They are just sacrificial chards. I’m not sure that it’s possible to bat .1000 on these guys.
But you should get more than enough to fill a big bowl.
Be sure to let the leaves cool for a few minutes before trying to move them. They will crisp up even more as they cool.
I would say that 85% of mine turned out really good which is a pretty good ratio considering that I’m putting leafy greens in a hot oven and expecting them to do something other than just decompose immediately.
Look at this one for example. Nice and crispy!
I found that these degrade pretty quickly once they come out of the oven though. You definitely want to eat them within 15-20 minutes of cooking them. As mine sat, they got a bit soggier which I think is maybe because I oiled them a bit too much.
While these are touchy things, if you do it right, much like kale chips, they are really crispy, thin, and delicious. I actually think these are prettier than kale chips also with the red veins running throughout the chips.
If you’re up for a chip challenge, give these guys a shot!