The age of kale: Kale chips are powerhouses of nutrients and vitamins.
The age of kale: Kale chips are powerhouses of nutrients and vitamins. Photo: Edwina Pickles

What are they?

They're crisp, green, salty, taste freakily like salted potato crisps - and they're made from kale, a member of the cabbage family renowned for its high nutrients and celebrity status.

''It's the age of kale,'' announced actor Kevin Bacon. Gwyneth and Oprah are, of course, fans. ''Even I made kale chips,'' Bette Midler said. What began as a dehydrated snack for raw foodists in, or around, 2006, kicked off when US farm-to-table chef Dan Barber published an oven-baked kale chip recipe in 2007 and a cult was born.

Where are they?

Glossy-green kale chips are on the snacky bar menu at Sydney's Chester White Cured Diner in Potts Point for $3 a bowl. Tossed in olive oil, salt and lemon juice and baked in the oven until crackly crisp (''That took a lot of trial and error,'' says manager Nick Sullivan), they make perfect drinking food, ready for a relaxed beer or a chilled white. ''We don't have them on because they're healthy,'' Sullivan says. ''We have them on because they're delicious.''

There's also kale aplenty on the menu at Melbourne's charmingly Irish the Last Jar. ''Most Irish people know what kale is,'' says co-owner and chef Tim Sweeney.

''We throw a heap of the torn leaves into a pan of beurre noisette [nutty, browned butter] for a minute or two until they're crisp, drain them really well and serve them on pan-fried skate wing, with slippery jacks and pickled periwinkles.''

Why do I care?

Because celebrities eat them? No. Because they are powerhouses of nutrients and vitamins? Maybe. Because they're chips? Yes.

Can I do them at home?

Can, and should. You need amazingly little olive oil, so they come almost guilt-free. Add grated parmesan, black pepper or Japanese chilli sprinkles, and serve with a drink, a soup, or an eggy weekend brunch.

KALE CHIPS

If you're a salt-and-vinegar fan, toss the chips when hot, straight out of the oven, with one teaspoon vinegar and sea salt - they're amazing.

200g curly kale

1 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp sea salt

1. Heat the oven to 140C. Wash the kale and pat dry.

2. Strip the leaves off the stems, and tear into rough bite-sized pieces. Arrange in a single layer, not too crowded, on two baking trays lined with baking paper (you may need to do two batches).

3. Drizzle with the olive oil and massage the oil into the leaves until coated.

4. Scatter with sea salt, then bake until crisp but not browned (keep checking after 10 minutes, it could take up to 15) and serve.

Makes 200g

Sourcing

NSW

Chester White Cured Diner, 3 Orwell Street, Potts Point, 02 9332 3692, chesterwhitediner.com.au

VIC

The Last Jar, 616 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, 03 9348 2957, thelastjar.com.au