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Jul 26 / sara

“Whole Foods Parking Lot” Video-Inspired Kale and Quinoa Salad

Kale and Quinoa Salad inspired by DJ Dave Wittman

Last night I was giving my 4-year-old twins a bath when one of them crash-landed his jumbo jet into the tub, drenching me on purpose. I glared at him and said:

“You’re the most annoying dude I’ve ever seen, brah.
Will you PLEASE move? You’re right in front of the quinoa.”

I’ve gone insane. I can’t stop quoting the lyrics from DJ Dave Wittman’s brilliant rap video, “Whole Foods Parking Lot,” about a guy in a Prius attempting to score a parking space in L.A.’s cutthroat world of upscale Westside supermarkets.

That was my world for seven years, before I paid my 80 bucks for six things and got the heck out.

Once, in an attempt to work out at my gym, I ascended, in my Isuzu Trooper, eight floors of a Santa Monica parking structure, only to be aced out and forced to wind my way back down to ground level, only to get a second wind and climb all eight stories again, only to strike out again and steel myself for a third try, only to exit the parking structure in defeat, drive to Whole Foods and park illegally, buy a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia, drive home, plop on the couch and watch a “Law & Order” rerun.

In the end, I couldn’t hack it in the L.A. parking scene for the same reasons I was a lousy bike racer for Velo Club LaGrange Westwood: I didn’t have the quick reflexes or the will to attack. All I had was endurance.

So anyway, I’ve been watching “Whole Foods Parking Lot” every day for weeks. I mean every day. Heck, I don’t even shower every day. Finally it dawned on me: I need to a) tell DJ Dave he rocks (raps?) and b) get some backstory.

WFPL has been viewed more than 2.2 million times, and Dave has done plenty of interviews — about how he got the idea and how he shot the video without Whole Foods’ permission and then won the company’s admiration. But it seems nobody has asked him the really pressing questions. Like about how he prepares his quinoa. So I emailed him, and it turns out that not only is Dave a genius but he’s also a sweetheart and responded to my questions pronto.

Here’s what he had to say.

Me: So are those “six things for 80 bucks” — organic chicken, kale, quinoa, lemon, Humboldt Fog and Pinot Noir — really what you shop for at Whole Foods?

DJ Dave: Yes, that shopping list is actually very close to a usual set of things my fiancee, Rebecca, and I get.

Me: What do you do with the ingredients?

DJ Dave: Our go-to meal at home, and we sort of joke about how often we eat it, is grilled chicken and kale salad. The kale almost always has a bunch of lemon squeezed on it. I personally like to chop up apples, add some dried cranberries and even some toasted sliced up almonds to the salad, but when it’s up to my girl, it’s usually just the lemon. Sometimes we’ll have quinoa as a complement to me the meal or toast a sourdough baguette. Pinot Noir is a bit of a staple, too. The Humboldt Fog is fun, but can in be interchanged with Truffle Tremor or Bermuda Triangle for an appetizer while cooking.

Me: Wow, for a guy who claims not to be a foodie, you seem to know what’s up. How did you get into kale?

DJ Dave: We first started eating Kale Salad  because of my friend Teyah. She was like, “How about some Kale salad?”  I think she was the first one to recommend we squeeze lemon on it.

Me: Do you ever bring your kale salad to any good-neighbor occasions? Not that I would blame you if you didn’t. When I lived in L.A. I never left my .2-mile radius because I couldn’t deal with the traffic. Or the parking.

DJ Dave: Well, I haven’t actually brought my salad anywhere, but I did go to a 4th of July barbeque at a friend’s house, and she had a kale/quinoa salad. I was all, “Oh, cool. Is that inspired by the video?” She’s like, NO WAY, dude. I’ve been making this for years. It’s like my specialty!!!” It was amazing. I snuck back into the kitchen and passed up chips and such to heap extra portions into my mouth later in the evening.

Thank you, Dave!

Meantime, I was so inspired by the video, produced by Dave and his Fog and Smog crew, that I asked Sara to create a Whole Foods Parking Lot Video-Inspired Kale Quinoa Salad, based on Dave’s favorite ingredients. The recipe is below. It’s the perfect salad, really — the hearty, dark green kale, the complete protein of the quinoa, the crunch of the almonds, along with the sweetness of the dried cranberries, all paired with luscious Humboldt Fog, making for one delicious bite. And if you really want to be literal with Dave’s shopping list, here’s an easy recipe for grilled chicken, too. 

By the way, Sara also thinks WFPL is stellar, even though she lives in New York City, where Whole Foods markets don’t even have parking lots. “It’s just a mob scene come the lunch and dinner hours,” she reports. “Everyone buys the prepared foods and stands in line for hours with their one item.”

“Whole Foods Parking Lot” Video-Inspired Kale and Quinoa Salad
Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Serves  4 to 6

½ cup quinoa, rinsed
½ cup sliced almonds
1 large bunch kale, torn into small pieces (about 12 cups)
½ cup dried cranberries or cherries
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 2 to 3 lemons)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the quinoa and ¾ cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender and fluffy, 12 to 15 minutes. Spread out on a plate to cool. (This will give 1½ cups cooked quinoa.)

Meanwhile, place the almonds in a small skillet over medium heat and toast, stirring often, until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool.

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine the kale, quinoa, almonds, cranberries and toss with the vinaigrette. Serve with Humboldt Fog, sliced baguette, and Pinot Noir. The salad will keep, refrigerated, for up to 1 day.

The Whole Foods parking lot in Bend, Oregon — no parking wars here! (Oops, I forgot my shopping bag.)

Now I'm on the inside . . . checking out the kale


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  1. Kirsten / Jul 28 2011

    Too Funny! i just added Kale to my shopping list so i can make that salad. i’m even going to twist it in the bag just like dj dave does in the video.

  2. Cami / Jul 27 2011

    OMG, I love it. Dave is great. That said, I made your bbq chicken and slaw last night on a whim for $.50 with WF chicken. The air chilled legs were on special $1 per lb. I know I looked at the price and was shocked. I found the rest of the ingredients in the fridge and pantry. As a snack for three young boys, I cut up half a med. size watermelon and they ate the whole thing. The melon was $.19 per lb, that’s cheaper than Henry’s at $.24 per lb. I don’t mean to gloat, but I am proud of my crafty bargains at WF.

  3. Kathy / Jul 25 2011

    Very funny video! Loved a lot of the references … girl in yoga pants, cayenne pepper for the Master Cleanse, less than $20 pinot noir. Wish I could take my husband’s Prius with his green remodeling firm’s logo on it and steal some parking spots at Whole Foods Bend. The sad news is that I can always find a spot in front of WF. It’s in Costco’s lot that I really struggle! My all time favorite salad was the Whole Earth Kale Salad at the Whole Earth in Princeton NJ. Small independent natural foods store that rocked! I never got the recipe, but like Sara (with much less skill …), I made up my own recipe from the ingredients. I’ll send it along! Thanks for introducing DJ Dave!

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