My Favorite Simple Kale Salad

To all of the New Year’s Resolution-ers out there who have healthy eating on their list of to-do’s for 2015, here is an EASY recipe for kale that you’ll actually like!

Kale is among the most nutrient-dense vegetables that is considered commonly eaten. One cup provides 1327% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin K, 192% of DV for vitamin A, and 88% for vitamin C.  It’s not something I recommend eating huge amounts of every single day because the K and A vitamin content is way more than you need.  Still, it’s a great green to add to your vegetable repertoire.  Sauteed with some garlic, it’s absolutely amazing.  Most people find eating it raw difficult due to its bitter and brussels sprouts-like texture.  I had this salad once at True Food Kitchen and absolutely fell in love, especially after realizing how easy it was to make.


  • 4-6 cups kale, loosely packed, sliced leaves of Italian black (Lacinato, “dinosaur,” cavolo nero); midribs removed if you prefer (I don’t mind them!)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, mashed
  • Salt & pepper (optional)
  • Pinch hot red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2/3 C grated flavorful cheese such as Asiago or Parmesan
  • 1/2 C freshly made bread crumbs from lightly toasted bread (or from the deli counter, just don’t use the canned stuff off the shelf if you can avoid it)


  1. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and a pinch (or more to taste) of hot red pepper flakes. I like to make the dressing first and let the garlic permeate the liquids, while I prep the kale leaves.

    Simple Ingredients!
    Simple Ingredients!
  2. Pour over kale in a large serving bowl and toss well.

    Let the Dressing Marinate
    Let the Dressing Marinate
  3. Let kale sit for at least 15 minutes. Remove chunks of garlic.  Add bread crumbs and 2/3 of the cheese, toss again, and top with remaining cheese.

Truth be told, I forgot to take a photo of the finished product when I made it, but it’ll look like this.

The great thing about this recipe is you can make it ahead (tossed with the dressing), and the longer you let the kale sit, the better it gets.  The acidity in the dressing breaks down the tough, cabbage-like texture of the kale a bit. As far as the bread crumbs go, I bought a container of fresh bread crumbs from the deli counter at Sprouts, used what I needed, and put the rest in the freezer until the next use.  I’ve made this salad several times and can tell you that the bread crumbs keep really well as long as there’s no moisture in the container they’re stored in!

If you need protein with your salads, almost any grilled meat (shrimp, chicken, beef, salmon, etc.) would go great on top of the salad.  So would chickpeas, quinoa, boiled egg, or other non-meat high-protein items.  It’s a really versatile salad. It’s the only dressed salad that gets better the next day too.  If you know you’ll have leftovers, just don’t toss in the cheese and breadcrumbs til you’re ready to eat it.  I do recommend consuming within 2 days of making it.

Enjoy and happy new year!

Vanilla Roasted Pears

Kevin and I hosted a fun Saturday evening in Los Feliz for Tony and Julie a few weekends ago, basking in the warm afternoon sun cocktail in-hand on the outdoor patio of Katsuya at the Americana followed by a fun four-course homemade dinner courtesy of Kevin and yours truly.

The Capitellis!
The Capitellis!

Apologies in advance for the poor photo quality and plating, as I used my phone’s camera and only briefly had the food on a plate before we shoveled it down our throats.  Classy bunch, I know.  No time for fluff and positioning when there was food to be eaten!

First Course - Cheese & Charcuterie
First Course – Cheese & Charcuterie

To start, we put together a simple cheese and charcuterie board with Supreme brie (my fav), a gouda-cheddar blend, red wine (chianti) salami from Trader Joe’s, and a Trader Joe’s prosciutto (my absolut fav storebought prosciutto).  We threw in some granny smith apple slices, and wheat and flax crackers.  Tony apparently is a big chocolate beer guy, so Kevin decided to pick up a couple of chocolate stouts for the boys to try.

Second Course - Arugula Salad
Second Course – Arugula Salad

For the second course, we made a simple arugula salad topped with homemade candied walnuts, julienne fuji apple, and shaved (not grated!) parmesan cheese, all drizzled over with a homemade brown sugar balsamic vinaigrette (1/4 C balsamic vinegar, 1 chopped shallot, 1/2 C olive oil, 2 tsp brown sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp fine black pepper – whisked together and sitting for at least an hour).

I didn't remember to take a photo til midway through eating this dish...
I didn’t remember to take a photo til midway through eating this dish…

For the entree, we did a wheat rotini pasta dish with simple grilled shrimp, pan-friend kale, and Trader Joe’s sundried tomato.  We also added a touch of Trader Giotto’s Organic Vodka sauce to add a little bit of moisture to the dish – Kevin’s genius idea.

And now for the real subject matter of this post – dessert!  I wanted to make something that we could make and eat right away, rather than the types of things I typically make in advance (i.e., cupcakes, cookies, bars, etc.).  Also, baking at Kevin’s means either needing to be self-sufficient as far as not needing the typical tools and machinery goes, or bringing all the machinery myself.  We settled on a vanilla poached pear recipe (below) as adapted from one I found on Smitten Kitchen.


  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 4-5 slightly-under-ripe, fragrant, medium pears, peeled if desired, halved though the stem and cored (I used Bosc)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the sugar in a small bowl. With a thin, sharp knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise in half and scrape out the seeds. Stir the seeds into the sugar.

2. Arrange the pears in a large baking dish, cut-side up. Drizzle the lemon juice evenly over the fruit, then sprinkle with the sugar. Nestle the vanilla pod among the fruit (I first slit my halves lengthwise into quarters). Pour the water into the dish. Dot each pear with some butter.

Pears, Vanilla Sugar, and Butter - Easy!
Pears, Vanilla Sugar, and Butter – Easy!

3. Roast the pears for minutes brushing them occasionally with the pan juices. Turn the pears over and continue roasting, basting once or twice, until tender and caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes longer. A paring knife poked into the thickest part of one should meet with no resistance.

Slightly Blistered Pears
Slightly Blistered Pears

4. Serve warm, spooned with the caramelized pear drippings from the pan over vanilla ice cream.

Vanilla Roasted Pears
Vanilla Roasted Pears

I LOVED this recipe – it’s a nice light dessert that I could eat probably every day.  When (not “if”) I make this again, I might substitute the white sugar for a little less than the same amount of brown sugar just to get a little more of a molassesy-sticky texture to the glaze. MMM

Paleo-Friendly Thai Almond Chicken Soup

Let me preface this post by saying that I am not embracing the paleo diet, but I did consider it for about 24 hours.  My friend Jer is doing an 83-day paleo challenge through his Crossfit gym and was looking for moral support via strength in numbers.  I’ve always turned down invitations to try Crossfit and self-torture diets, just because I’m a slave to my sweet tooth.  However, earlier last week, Jer brought up a good point after I feebly tried to rebuttal that I couldn’t give up al dente pasta in exchange for a washboard stomach.

Jeremy: al dente is nice
but this is amazing

Ok, Jer.  You won that argument.  I read the paleo how-to packet, said I would consider the 30-day “lifestyle change”,  and did a serious assessment of my eating habits and how vastly this would change my day-to-day.  For those that aren’t familiar with paleo, the basic principle is that you give up alcohol, legumes, dairy, sugar (real and artificial), and starchy carbs (i.e., corn, wheat, rice, potatoes, etc.) – altogether purging most processed foods from one’s diet.  This would mean giving up the smidge of cream and sugar in my morning coffee, morning bowl of milk and Kashi, afternoon Fage yogurt, and worst of all – desserts.  I shared the idea with my boss (also a dessert savant), and her response literally was, “AT!  WHAT NO!  YOU CAN’T DO THIS!!  Well, I’ll have to buy you a cake to send you off from [our favorite bakery]!”  She was serious.

I ended up not going through with it mostly because I’d have to give up baking as well. I also don’t eat a lot of meat and have thus turned to legumes and dairy over the last few years as an additional source of protein to balance my workouts.  Going paleo for 3o days would mean a big Meatfest Month (#TWSS), and I just wasn’t that interested.

My cube neighbor at work also brought up a good point when he said, “Instead of doing paleo, maybe you should quit vaccuming up 4,000 calories worth of food in a single sitting like Kirby.”  Sorry for partying, Dan.  My boss ended up getting the cake after all, and we even won a dozen free cookies for guessing the baker’s favorite cookie when she made the call.  It was a very happy day.  I felt like a 12-year old girl who just saw Justin Bieber for the first time.  Office productivity pretty much stopped when the baked goods arrived.

Anyway, I swear this is all relevant.  So my near-conversion to paleo got me to reevaluate what I’m doing wrong with my diet (e.g., binge-eating, too many sweets, etc).  Feeling inspired (as well as disgusted with myself from the three slices of the aforementioned cake), I looked up healthy recipes on (one of Martha Stewart’s sites) – most of which happened to be paleo-friendly – and found one for Almond Chicken Soup with Sweet Potato, Collards, and Ginger.


Instead of collards, I used kale… because I didn’t read the recipe closely enough.  Whatever, kale is healthier anyway.   I also added some fresh corn and red and yellow bell peppers for some extra texture and vitamin A.

Paleo-Friendly Thai Almond Chicken Soup

The sweet potatoes were nicely soft and the almond butter mixed in added an almost coconut milk flavor to the soup.  The soup itself had a not-too-thick creamy texture.  I would absolutely make this again!  Yum!