Sunday, April 5, 2009

Crispy Shoestring Veggies

My daughter has decided to have a bird-themed birthday party this year. Given that I can't stand to serve ordinary food, especially when a fabulous food opportunity presents itself, I've decided to make the party food go with that theme. So, we'll have lots of nest-shaped food, egg-shaped food, foods that contain seeds and berries, and even food that looks like worms. Fun, fun, fun!

In my search for foods that would resemble nest materials, I came up with this recipe. I was initially going to try to make potato latke nests, but those weren't working in baked form, and I was trying to avoid frying. This is actually much better nutritionally than latkes, and they're a serious hit with my daughter!

Serve these as part of an hors d'oeuvre, or as a side dish at dinner, or as crunchy munchies for a party, or even as an every day snack. It's a great way to get kids (and adults) to eat their veggies, and it's low in all the nasty stuff that snack foods usually contain (fat, sodium, sugar). Feel free to substitute any root vegetables or any dark leafy green.

Crispy Shoestring Veggies
2 sweet potatoes, washed well, trimmed of ends and halved lengthwise
2 beets (any variety, but the red ones will get you pretty messy), peeled and halved lengthwise
1 daikon radish, peeled and halved lengthwise
safflower oil spray
1/2 bunch dinosaur kale
coarse salt, to taste (optional)

Preheat oven to 275F.

Using a mandolin with a shoestring blade attached, cut the sweet potatoes, beets and daikon into thin strips. Toss in a bowl to combine.

Spray 2 large cookie sheets with oil, and spread 1/2 of the veggie mixture on each of the sheets. Spray with a bit more oil and toss the vegetables to get an even coating of oil. Spread the veggies in an even layer over the pans. Bake for 1 hour, shifting the veggies around after about 30 minutes.

While the veggies are baking, cut the kale into very thin 2" strips, and spray with oil, tossing to coat. After baking time is up, add 1/2 of the kale strips to each pan, tossing to combine, and then spreading the mixture evenly on the pans. Bake 30 minutes more, or until all veggies are crisp, but not burnt.

Sprinkle sparingly with coarse salt, if desired. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Store in an air tight container or bag.

Serves 6 as a side dish.

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