Micro Kale Studio Salad

A vibrant spring studio salad - butter lettuce, saffron almonds, blue kale micro greens - the first at our new workspace for the shop. Plus a few treasures discovered as we fixed up the place.

Micro Kale Studio Salad

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:

Blue Kale Studio SaladBlue Kale Studio SaladBlue Kale Studio SaladBlue Kale Studio Salad

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

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.

Blue Kale Studio Salad

Blue Kale Studio Salad

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

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Micro Kale Studio Salad

5 from 1 vote

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
  • 1 lemon
  • to serve: lots of sprouts or micro greens, avocado, coriander or chive blossoms
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Serve along with the remaining lemon wedges.

Serves 2-4.

Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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Congratulations on your new space! I really enjoy your posts. I’m a photo student spending the summer in San Francisco, and I was wondering if you are ever interested in having interns/assistants around to help! I’m currently focusing on food photography and write on a blog sometimes as well! I hope to have photos as lovely as your someday.

Carmen L

I use your recipes all the time…you a mentions avocado a lot, and thats good..I can’t seem to get enough of this exotic fruit…Thanks for everything…….Querino

Querino de-Freitas

Just a quick trick I recently learned when I had an abundance of little gems on hand. If you carefully/gently wash them and then lay them on a tea towel to dry (rather than using a spinner), you can simply roll the towel up with leaves inside then stick into one of those compost type green bags, they kept for a solid week. And this salad sounds perfect, as well as your little spot on the eastern edge of nob hill. can’t wait for a look, so exciting, congrat’s.

carol t

That salad looks lovely! I love making flavoured salts, but had never thought to add nuts to them. That salt would be great to have on the table during a dinner party too.

Rasa @ The Vixen Life

Wow the salad looks scrumptious. The lighting in the photos is sublime. Due to your new sunny space? And that quote is perfectly inspiring.


I love butter lettuce–they never disappoint making wraps. Saffron salt…wow can’t wait to try–Happy Nesting!


Beautiful light, so different than what we’ve gotten accustomed to seeing here… love the idea of using flavored salts in they simple, elegant salad. What gives with all of the ciggie papers? Brings back memories of rolling with Zig-Zag!

diary of a tomato

Those old cigarette papers are a good find. frame them up in a simple little wooden frame. i love paper ephemera.


I love that you found a gem of a street in the very place you’ve been living for years…it reminds me of the dream I have occasionally of finding a another room in my house I didn’t know was there, behind a door I never opened. Magical! It means a new chapter in your life is ready to begin, full of possibilities. All the best!
I would be happy if Little Gem lettuces were more available in my markets..hard to come by for some reason.


Your salad looks so good! I love all of the findings you’re coming across too 🙂

Gerry @ Foodness Gracious

Oh, that salad looks wonderful!


i hope you know the previous tenant of your new space, the amazing painter Kim Frohsin.

HS: Would have loved to have seen the space with her work in it.

christo braun

Mmm, what a special mix of flavors. And looking forward to the lentil recipe as well!

Katie @ Whole Nourishment

Those are probably those places that tourists know better than people actually living in the city. I’ve been there last time I was in San Francisco. 🙂
The salad looks absolutely beautiful!

Tina | Mademoiselle Gourmande

I’ve never thought to use saffron in this way. Looking forward to trying it! I can’t get enough salad these days.

la domestique

I LOVE the Hockney image. I hope I can see the space one day. It sounds awesome.


Please write up the lentil recipe asap! I’m always looking for interesting lentil recipes especially as they are so quick & easy to cook. Your new space sounds lovely!


Beautiful Salad and pictures. Excited for the lentils, too.


Love the quote!!! Congrats. Wish i could visit… but I’m in Maine.


The eyes tell the story..and so do the photos you post! Lovely.
Now, bring on the lentil recipe. I love lentils..my hubbie hates lentils. But I keep trying to get him to eat them anyway.


Hi Heidi! I’ve been meandering through a string of your recipes today and just wanted to share how much I really enjoy both your site, photographs, and your recipes. I find such inspiration from your beautiful, clean-eating posts – I love seeing each new post come through on my feed!

Lisa @ Simple Pairings

    Thanks so much Lisa! xx!

    Heidi Swanson

The Luxor Coffee Shop card is so rad! Meals Served At All Hours. Love that. xx


SO excited for your new place! love the found objects. I lived all over SF and my kids still reside and work there. Forever my home…thanks for reminding me of how great and how many little treasures there are still to be found. I love chilling my delicate lettuces and adding some dill to the mix as well. Thanks for all of your beautiful sharing.


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.

Angel Reyes

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.

Catherine @ Chocolate & Vegetables

Saffron salt sounds awesome. The new space sounds like heaven to me, and the best location.

Rosie @The Porridge Pot

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.


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.


Congratulations on your new studio space. I look forward to hearing of your adventures there. Thanks for the visuals.
Salad is my favorite summer meal. We will have lettuces from the garden soon, so I look forward to trying it.


This looks like a great summer salad. Thanks for the inspiration.
CONGRATS on the new space. A good adventure!


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!

Christina Bollinger

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!!


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 😀 Thanks for sharing the lovely recipe with us too, it looks divine 🙂 x

Jules @ WolfItDown

Yay!!!!!!!! for the new studio! and this salad looks soooo drool-worthy! perfect for summers!

Samina | The Cupcake Confession

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?


Congrats on the new studio. Very exciting! The sound of saffron salt in the salad is exotic. I’m craving some right away.

Lail | With A Spin

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!


Congrats on your studio space! Yummy looking salad!!


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!

Mrs D

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