Vegan Cheesy Kale Chips & Baked Curly Fries With Zesty Tahini Sauce

 

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Kale chips and curly fries in one recipe, you ask? Absolutely.

One thing I’ve noticed that makes plant-based eating and meal planning tricky sometimes is that we often have preconceived ideas about what a meal is supposed to look like. A hunk of protein is the star, a vegetable or two complement it, and some sort of starch makes an appearance. All are arranged on a plate, and if you took away the hunk of protein, it would seem incomplete, nutritionally and visually. It would’t seem like a “meal” so much as a couple of sides hanging around and waiting for their leader.

The void left by meat can be replaced by mock meats, but if you’re looking to cut down on animal products for health reasons, replacing every chicken breast with a chik’n breast and every link of sausage with a soy sausage substitute won’t achieve much.  I enjoy these types of food on occasion, but for everyday meals, I turn to whole foods to serve as my protein sources. However, a pile of chickpeas on a plate isn’t exactly going to take the place of a piece of chicken.

I think the “bowl food” trend that myself and so many other vegan cooks and bloggers are into is a solution to the feeling that there is something “missing” from our plates. With a meal bowl, you can cover all your macronutrient bases with 3 or 4 components (a grain, a green, and a bean is a good template to follow) and unify it all with a yummy sauce or interesting flavor profile. It took me a long time to stop overthinking what my “protein source” would be for each meal, and sometimes I just really want to eat a big bowl of greens and potatoes, and that’s okay. I can catch up on protein with my next meal.

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that with plant-based cooking, the line between “entree” and “side” is not always clear, and that’s one of my favorite things about cooking with plants. I like to let potatoes and beans, rice and broccoli have their moment in the spotlight instead of always being overshadowed by a slab of meat, real or faux.

I’m not sure whether to categorize this recipe as a snack or a side dish, because to be honest, I ate the entire recipe (except for some of the dressing) for lunch and it was perfectly satisfying. So let’s say this is officially meant to serve two as a side with veggie burgers. But if you eat the whole thing yourself, don’t be ashamed.

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For this dish, I hauled out my spiralizer, which is one of my favorite kitchen gadgets. I guess maybe the point of it is to reduce your carbs (zoodles instead of noodles), but I love putting potatoes into it and making potato noodles (what do we call these? Poodles is taken). If you don’t have one of these already, I’d call it a worthwhile investment.  I have this one and I love it, but I’m sure there are other brands that work great too! If you aren’t on board the spiralizer train yet, you can make this recipe with roasted potatoes cut into thin wedges.

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Spiralize or slice the potatoes, toss them with the oil & seasonings, spread them on a baking sheet, and roast til they’re as crispy as you like!

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To make the kale chips, simply wash & chop your kale and toss with oil, salt, and nutritional yeast. Spread the kale on another baking sheet and put it in the oven after the potatoes have been in for about 15 minutes.

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While the kale & potatoes cook, whip up this simple sauce consisting of only 5 ingredients.

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When the potatoes & kale are done, divide them between two dishes or serve them up in one to share (or not). Drizzle the tahini sauce generously, reserving any extra to use for a salad or veggies another time.

 

Vegan Cheesy Kale Chips & Baked Curly Fries With Zesty Tahini Sauce
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Nutritional yeast lends its vegan cheesy flavor to a basic kale chip recipe here alongside spiralized potatoes baked to a crisp in the oven. A zesty tahini sauce that can be whipped up in seconds adds another layer of slightly cheesy, slightly spicy flavor to the other two components. This recipe can be shared as a snack, divided between two plates to eat alongside a sandwich or veggie burger, or eaten by one hungry person for lunch.
Ingredients
Baked Curly Fries
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • ½ tbsp avocado oil*
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp salt
Cheesy Kale Chips
  • 1/2 bunch of kale (about 4 cups raw)
  • 1 tsp avocado oil
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
Zesty Tahini Sauce
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 or 2 dashes of your favorite hot sauce
  • 1 or 2 tbsp water
Instructions
Baked Curly Fries
  1. Wash the potatoes and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper, non-stick spray, or a silicone mat. Set up your spiralizer so that the potato noodles will fall onto a clean dishtowel.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400*
  3. Spiralize your potatoes (cutting them in half to make two short halves will reduce the length of noodle you end up having to work with)
  4. Use the dish towel to squeeze the potato noodles, reducing the moisture on them.
  5. Toss the potato noodles with the oil, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and salt. Place on the prepared baking sheet & spread out evenly. (At this point, having shorter noodles will make it easier to spread them out)
  6. Place in the oven for 15 minutes at first, using tongs to mix the potatoes halfway through so they crisp up evenly.
Cheesy Kale Chips
  1. Once the potatoes have gone into the oven, prepare a second baking sheet like you did the first. Cut the kale off its thick stems and tear into pieces (they will shrink in the oven, so don't tear them up too small!).
  2. Wash the kale and use a salad spinner to dry it if you can. Otherwise, use another clean dish towel or a paper towel to pat the kale as dry as you can.
  3. Toss the kale in a bowl (use the same one you used for the potatoes) with the oil and salt. Use your fingers to gently massage the pieces of kale so each one gets coated.
  4. Place the kale on the baking sheet & spread evenly in a single layer. If they're too crowded, they won't get as crispy.
  5. After the potatoes have been in the oven 15 minutes, turn the heat to 350 and place the kale in the oven with the pan of potatoes.
  6. Cook the kale and potatoes for 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through*
Zesty Tahini Sauce
  1. While the kale and potatoes cook, gather your ingredients for the sauce and whisk them all together in a small bowl, using as much water as you need to make it slightly runny but not watery. Set aside.

Once you've achieved your desired level of crispiness for the kale and the potatoes, remove them from the oven and serve immediately. Dress with the tahini sauce in a large bowl or two smaller bowls.
Notes
* I use avocado oil when roasting on high because it can withstand high heats without oxidizing, unlike virgin coconut or olive oil.
* Keep a close eye on both the chips and the fries as type of pan, position of oven racks, and individual oven heat will vary from person to person, impacting how quickly things can crisp up and start to burn.

 

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