Crispy baked vegetable chips are my new obsession.
This week our CSA delivery included 2 of the biggest honking carrots I have ever seen. First I laughed, next I opined that they probably wouldn’t taste very sweet, and then I looked on in wonderment as my husband peeled and chopped one of them into at least 20 rather large carrot sticks. They were delicious.
But that only used up one carrot; I still had the other one and my imagination. Taking a cue from my sweet potato chips adventure, I scavenged several beets from the back 40 of my refrigerator and set to work figuring out the best way to make them into crispy baked vegetable chips.
If you wonder why bother with homemade vegetable chips, you haven’t tasted how intensely flavored they are, or how addictive they can be with just a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Think homemade pita chips, but healthier and more colorful.
But first – a digression. Ours is not your average get-the-stuff-that-sells-at-farmers-markets kind of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture.) Hungry Harvest recovers surplus produce and when they deliver us a bag of fruits and vegetables, they make a matching donation on our behalf through nonprofit “donation partners” that include a food bank, a church and a gleaning network.
We joined because it seemed like a good idea and a way to help with 2 problems at once – food waste in the US and hunger in our community among those who don’t have easy access to fresh fruit and vegetables. Although we’ve only been with Hungry Harvest for a couple of weeks, I’ve been impressed. Sure an occasional item has looked a bit weird or had a bad spot (easy enough to cut off), and in one case a bag of spinach was not up to “snuff.” But mostly the deliveries have been a varied selection of tasty, healthy, and wonderful produce. And now, back to our originally scheduled afternoon of merriment baking crispy vegetable chips.
- I used a mandoline that my kids gave me for Chanukah for slicing. It was faster and resulted in more uniform slices than using a knife, but either way works.
- Although I used parchment-lined sheets, afterwards I decided that I should have tried the wire-rack-on-cookie-sheet method recommended by Food & Wine. My chips were mostly crisp, but a few of the centers were slightly moist and the wire rack probably helps on that score.
- Reprising my sweet potato adventure, I tried several temperature settings. But this time I tried four settings: 300 degrees F (for about 50-60 minutes), 350 degrees (for about 30-35 minutes), 375 degrees (for about 20-25 minutes) and 400 degrees (for about 15-20 minutes.) The first three all worked, but at 400 degrees too many of the chips burned and it was too difficult to grab them up before they did. Yes, I know a bunch of bloggers and online recipes recommend baking at 400 degrees F or even 425. I have no idea how they got a full batch of decent chips that way. This time 375 degrees worked best (for carrot and beet chips), even though 300 degrees seemed better for the sweet potato chips.
- One recipe suggested salting the beet slices and letting them rest to draw out water before drying them off. I tried that but didn’t think that it made an appreciable difference.
Note: Beets stain like crazy. The red juice will come off your hands with scrubbing, but don’t use any towels you care about to dry your hands or the beets. Also, if the base of your mandoline is white plastic (as mine is), don’t hope for it to return to its formerly pristine color anytime soon.
Crispy Baked Vegetable Chips
Servings – 4 snack-size bowls Cost – $2
- 8 ounces of carrots, peeled
- 3-4 medium beets, peeled
- 2 tablespoons oil (I used extra virgin olive)
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Optional: a bit of herb such as rosemary or thyme, or a spice such as cumin
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Slice the carrots and beets as thinly as possible and pat the slices dry with paper towels.
- Place them in a bowl (1 for each), add 1 tablespoon oil to each bowl, lightly sprinkle the slices with salt and pepper (and any optional herbs/spices), and toss them until they are all coated with oil.
- Lay the slices on the parchment or wire rack, close together but not overlapping. They will shrink. (The carrot slices curl up considerably – not sure why and it occurred no matter what I did to try to prevent it.) Bake for about 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan in the middle of the cooking time. It’s best to do one baking sheet at a time. If you do two at once, rotate them midway through, so they each get a chance to be on the upper tier. Check the slices periodically and remove any that are finished early, which can happen, especially if some are thinner or smaller than others. A few may take longer than 25 minutes.
The chips are crunchiest within a few hours of being baked.