Forgo dried kale for new baked BBQ zucchini chips
It all started with the kale chip.
I fell in love the texture of the thick, green leaf made thin and so delicately crisp by baking that it felt almost flaky, with just enough thickness to impart a satisfying little crunch before nearly dissolving into salty-grassy goodness on the tongue.
And I wasn't alone: healthy-conscious eaters crowned the kale chip its unofficial sweetheart and suddenly they were available not just in health-food stores, but in mini-marts, airports and gas stations.
Which led me to ask: What else might we chip-up in a dehydrator or oven? And what other flavors might we add? My daughter's all-time favorite potato chip is barbecue flavored, so that became my mission -- a baked veggie chip that mimicked the barbecue potato chip flavor, with all natural ingredients.
In mixing up various spice rubs, we were surprised by how much brown sugar we needed to emulate that characteristic flavor.
And then we struck gold: what if we used a naturally sweet vegetable, which would allow us to reduce the added sugar down to nearly nothing?
And thus, the baked barbecue zucchini chip was born! It was a huge hit with the BBQ-potato-chip-lovers in my house. And here's the really good news: You don't need any special equipment to make this happen.
If you have a dehydrator, great -- you probably already have a strong veggie-chip game going. For the rest of us: your oven on low will work great for this recipe. And, you don't even need a mandoline for slicing. I have one, but almost never use it ever since nipping off a bit of finger years ago on an episode of "Ten Dollar Dinners."
Use a knife and slice relatively thin, and that's fine. In fact, the slices are better and sturdier when they aren't too thin anyway. I do recommend using a baking rack, only because the chips will dry out faster and more evenly. But, even this is optional equipment -- just use parchment paper on a tray, cook a little longer, and flip the chips halfway through cook time if you don't have a rack. Kale chip, move over.
• Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook "Supermarket Healthy."