Blue Kale Studio Salad Recipe
A vibrant spring salad - butter lettuce, saffron almonds, blue kale micro greens - the first at the new studio, plus a few treasures discovered as we fixed up the place.
Our new studio space is on a quirky stretch down the backside of the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, a block above Chinatown. I've lived in San Francisco nearly twenty years and somehow missed this block entirely - a little strip of studios, shops & cafes, and the cable car museum. If you fly out the back window and hopscotch a roof or two, you'll likely land on the Chinatown branch of the San Francisco library. Work on the space is coming along steadily, and I'm hoping to move all things QUITOKEETO over there in the next week or two. Things are still rough around the edges (and corners, and window boxes, and the list goes on), but the light inside during the day is beautiful, and the space itself is full of secrets and charms. We've been findings all sorts of treasures from decades past - old cigarette papers, stationery, store signage, invoices. Here's a sampling:
The space was a painter's studio for many years, and I suspect a grocer for a stretch prior to that. We enjoyed our first lunch there this week using a window box as a bench, and an old beer garden table for the food. It's picnicking, really, because the only amenity is running water. No cooking, no appliances, no kitchen. I pulled together this salad, and we sat in the sun, and enjoyed it with leftover lentils from the night prior. The salad is one I've been making regularly - the best butter lettuce or little gems I can find tossed with a splash of good olive oil, a sprinkling of almond saffron salt, and squeeze of lemon juice. I finish it with whatever is on hand - in this case; avocado, blue kale micro greens, and a few coriander blossoms. The saffron salt is unexpected, and really adds something. That said, if saffron isn't in your repertoire (or budget), trade in another flavor you love - thyme, or oregano, coriander, or any herb or spice you can imagine will go nicely with lemon. I'll have to write up the lentil recipe as well. It is a staple by one of my favorite cookbook authors. I've cooked a lot of lentils in my life, a lot of different ways, and this preparation is one I always come back to.
I noticed this David Hockney picture taped to the backside of the front door the first time I walked in, and considered it a good omen. The quote is, "It was the eyes that caught my eye and I realized it's about intense looking, what it does and what it can do." More soon! -h
Blue Kale Studio Salad
You can prep nearly all of this salad a day or two in advance. The saffron almonds will keep in a small bowl or bag. And you can boil the eggs ahead of time as well. If you wash and dry the lettuce, it will keep beautifully for a couple of days, sealed in a bag, refrigerated.
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, plus more to taste
pinch of saffron threads (20 or so)
1/3 cup (Marcona) almonds
3 hard boiled eggs, grated on a box grater
2-3 heads of butter lettuce or little gems, well washed and dried
a few glugs of extra virgin olive oil
to serve: lots of sprouts or micro greens, avocado, coriander or chive blossoms
Grind the salt and saffron into a powder using a mortar and pestle. Add the almonds, and smash until the nuts are the size of small pebbles. Set aside.
Just before you're ready to serve, arrange the lettuce in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss gently, but thoroughly, you want all the leaves to get lightly coated. Cut the lemon in thirds, and squeeze one third onto the lettuce, toss again. Sprinkle with most of the saffron-almond mixture, and gently toss one more time. I like to finish with the eggs, and lots of micro greens or sprouts, but typically season them with a bit more olive oil, and a touch of salt before sprinkling them atop the lettuce along with the avocado, and any edible blossoms I have on hand. Serve along with the remaining lemon wedges.
Prep time: 10 minutes
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Looks like you got yourself a great new space. Love the old photos, my husband's granddad gave me a bunch of old menus, now I think I might have to cook something from one and post it along with the menu. Cheers to continued success.
Congratulations on the new space and this salad has my heart, with those marcona almonds.
Looks great! Thanks for sharing.
What a neat space--I love poking around in old spaces and seeing those mementos from the past! And an indoor picnic--reminds me of when we first moved into our apartment and used an old copy paper box as the table (sitting on the floor) because we didn't have a real one yet. Our moving in meals were not quite so lovely as your salad though.
Saffron salt sounds awesome. The new space sounds like heaven to me, and the best location.
Beautiful! Good omens! David Hockney! Butter lettuces! Enjoy your new space---xxxE
Lovely post. Great idea with the saffron. I bought some for another recipe and wondered what to do with the bit I had left over - perfect!
Have been away from SF a bit too long. Miss taking stroll(s) into Chinatown early in the morning!! thanks for the simple herb salt recipe- and ALL you do for my palate and my soul!!
Congratulations on the move! Sounds like such an inspiring space, including that vintage ephemera!
Love the quote!!! Congrats. Wish i could visit... but I'm in Maine.
I'm very familiar with that little stretch of street near Chinatown. So lovely. I wish you all the success for your business. I've been gobbling up gem lettuces from my garden lately, and asking myself 'when did dark greens take over? Light greens are sooo good!' But then, of course, you think of a brilliant way to combine the two. You're amazing, you know that? xo, Christina
What a great find, that quote. It certainly looks like a good omen. Best of luck! I love the saffron and almond salt idea! Will definitely try it. Thanks.
Loving all the photos of your findings, that is really cool! It sounds like the place is coming along nicely, and I am sure it will be stunning once you're done :D Thanks for sharing the lovely recipe with us too, it looks divine :) x
Yay!!!!!!!! for the new studio! and this salad looks soooo drool-worthy! perfect for summers!
Ahhh thanks for sharing these glimpses into the new space. So excited for you and your Q crew! Just a little love note to say that I’ve been making everything of yours lately and every single thing is a dream. As always! I am just now frying up your silverdollar socca and I cannot believe how incredible they are. Almost cheesy! Delightful. Thank you for all you do - this wonderful site, your books, peddling wares in your shop. Viva Miss Heidi S!
Congrats on the new studio. Very exciting! The sound of saffron salt in the salad is exotic. I'm craving some right away.
I just love the images!! great photos! Thanks for sharing!
Sigh, I need to buy some saffron.
I have been enjoying a renewed love affair with butter and bib lettuces, after years of finding them too flabby. Now, I see how fragile and fine they are, when fresh, and when well and suitably dressed. As here. Love love love the idea of grating the hard boiled egg, to add that oomph, but in fine, dainty doses. Looks like tomorrow's lunch, to me. Happy new studio! xo, Molly
Congrats on your studio space! Yummy looking salad!!
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