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{Review} Simply Kale

Crunch… Crunch… CRUNNNNCH!

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If you are craving something crunchy to snack on, instead of grabbing a bag of potato chips, try baked kale chips! Not a fan of kale? Trust me. The baked version will convert you and it’s a healthy alternative to those greasy, fatty potato chips! Your waistline will thank you. Simply Kale exclusively used non-GMO rice bran oil and extra virgin coconut oil to bake the kale chips. They are healthy fats our body needs.

Sea Urchin (Uni) Pasta

Sea urchin is called “ricci di mare” in Italian. In cuisines around the Mediterranean areas, it is commonly eaten raw with lemon, mixed into omelets or pasta dishes, or slathered on bread.

Uni Pasta

I had my first taste of sea urchin or uni pasta at Bestia in Downtown LA. It was spaghetti rustichella with sea urchin. I was intrigue by this dish because sea urchin is common on Asian menus, particularly Japanese, and I would have never thought to incorporate uni into Italian cooking. If you don’t know what sea urchin is, they look like underwater hedgehog with long thorny spikes all over their body.

Chinese Five-Spice Meatballs

Asian Five-Spice Meatballs

If you love spaghetti with meatballs, switch it up with an Asian flare… Chinese Five-Spice Meatballs. The five-spice powder consists of Szechuan peppercorns, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, & fennel. This intense flavor adds wonderful aromas to stir-fry vegetables and meat dishes. For this recipe, you really have to get your hands dirty by mushing all the ingredient together. One easy tip is to use disposable  gloves. Not only does it keep your hands clean, it also helps prevent cross-contamination.

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Caprese Salad

This dish is similar to caprese salad and can be served as an antipasto (starter).

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Caprese salad is usually composed of tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella with a drizzle of olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar. A slight variation I like to use is with heirloom tomatoes, burrata cheese and toasted pine nuts. In Italian, burrata means “buttered” and it consists of a fresh mozzarella outer shell with mozzarella curds and cream filling. Burrata is a specialty of the Apulia region of  the southeast coast of Italy and is my all time favorite cheese. This simple caprese salad is fresh, simple, and healthy. When toasting pine nuts, make sure you keep an eye on it, I left mine unattended and smelled burnt pine nuts! Fail. I was able to salvage some and mixed with a new batch of toasted pine nuts. For the cheese, I bought the BelGioioso brand that comes in 4 pieces (2 oz. each). I like to cut the shell open and mix until creamy.

Basic Italian Polenta

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I love polenta or “Italian grits”. You can whip up a pot of creamy polenta in 30 minutes, but these days you can cook quickly with instant polenta or buy the ready-made package. Polenta is a versatile dish that can be served for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even as an appetizer. For breakfast, try polenta with milk and honey. For lunch or dinner, anything from sautéed mushrooms, short beef ribs to a hearty meat ragu. In the early days, polenta has been an essential diet and main nourishment of northern Italians. Today it is seen as a comfort food. Use this recipe as a starting point to make your polenta dish. The possibilities are endless.