Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sundays with Sparky - Rock Your Veg: Beet and Carrot Chips

When Sparky was an infant, and had little contact with the outside world, he ate pretty much anything.  I'd made his baby food myself (I confess here, more for economy than health; often it was salt-free canned veg run through the blender) and he ate everything with no complaint.

As soon as the world crept in to our insulated little lives a bit, Sparky got the memo: BOYS (and I suppose girls) DON'T EAT VEGETABLES. He began to refuse veggies, one at a time, until I was one of those frustrated mothers hovering around his plate, coming up with silly euphemisms and piloting spoons mouthwards with the precision of a Blue Angel. 

I started to recognize that we had two problems: a marketing problem, and a real texture problem: Sparky has been missing teeth for what seems like forever (yes, it's always different teeth.)  Vegetables can be a pain when you've got gaps in your mouth: they either refuse to get chewed properly or are small enough to hide in the holes!  I persevered, trying at once to be understanding of the latter problem and totally intolerant of the former one: I started teaching my son to cook, visit farms, and garden as part of a massive marketing counterattack.

One highly successful tactic in my pro-vegetable marketing campaign: homemade baked vegetable chips.  Now I know vegetable chips, be they potato or pirate's booty, aren't on anyone's healthy-food list, so let me say a few words in favor of the homemade version: first, you control the amount of oil and salt.  Second, baked homemade chips don't necessarily cook up like the fried ones, and have spots where their texture and flavor is more like roasted vegetables they're made from.  Home-baked chips are the gateway, I'm telling you.

The recipe couldn't be more simple: take 1-2 root vegetables of your choice - we used carrots and beets - and slice them 1/8 inch thick on the mandolin (if you're using a knife, this is a job for Mom or Dad - but you can do it with a vegetable peeler, too.) Use hand protection!

003Coat a cookie sheet lightly with a layer of oil (we use extra-virgin olive oil.) Lay out your vegetables in a single layer (it's OK to crowd as long as they don't overlap.)  Blot the tops with more oil, and salt to taste.

004Sparky loves this part, it makes him look like a zombie...

Bake in a 300 degree oven for about 30 minutes, (depending on the thickness of the vegetables; if you used a peeler, you'll need less time.)  flipping them every 10 minutes.  Watch them carefully at the end, as sweeter vegetables especially have a tendency to burn.

007Remove them when they are about half the size you started with and have darkened in color; they should be pliable but not floppy - they will become crunchy when they cool.  Note: sweet vegetables come out of the oven VERY hot!  Allow to cool and enjoy!

No comments:

Post a Comment