Thursday, April 17

Mizuna and Broccoli Flower Salad: The Plasma HDTV of Salads

spicy mizuna and broccoli flower salad

Growing up "salad" meant a plate with iceberg lettuce, cucumber, carrot, and tomato slices, and bottled Catalina dressing.

Like TV's, salads have come a long way since then.

I remember in the 80's everyone started eating Caesar salad, and romaine bumped iceberg as the lettuce of choice. Then sometime in the '90s peppery salad leaves like arugula and radicchio were clandestinely added to salad plates. Back then people would disparagingly call them "the lettuce that bites you back." Ah, how things have changed.

Then came mesclun, and salad was never the same. Mesculn is a mix of tender, young salad leaves. Its name comes from the French mescla meaning "to mix." Mesclun varies depending on the source but may include arugula, mustard greens, oak leaf, radicchio, red beet greens, and sorrel.

The first time Jeff and I ate fresh mesclun from the farmers' market here in California we were taken aback:

"Wow! This salad has lots of flavor. You can really taste the greens," Jeff said.

Talking right over him, I exclaimed, "Is that a baby beet green?"

"Do you have these green pointy things in yours?" he replied, ignoring my question, "They're fantastic!" (Yes, we do get this excited over salad at my house.)

Turns out those green pointy things were mizuna. Mizuna is a Japanese mustard green with dark green, thin, serrated leaves, and a pleasantly spicy, peppery flavor. Though it has been cultivated in Japan since ancient times, it is believed to have originated in China. Most recipes for mizuna are Asian, and it features prominently in salads, soups, and stir-fries. It can be eaten raw or cooked, and it is packed with nutrients such as carotenes, folic acid, and vitamin C.

Mizuna is available at markets such as Whole Foods, and if you buy Trader Joe's herb salad mix, it's in there too. So you may have been eating mizuna without even realizing it.

Just when you thought you couldn't take any more salad excitement, I have to mention broccoli flowers. These tiny, yellow edible flowers have a robust flavor and beautify any salad. If you find them, don't hesitate to get them. They are sooo 2008.

I'm sending my mizuna salad to the always Well-Seasoned Cook, Susan, the host of this week's Weekend Werb Blogging created by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen.

fresh mizuna

Mizuna and Broccoli Flower Salad
Serves 4
Print recipe only here.

6-8 cups mizuna**
3-4 inner white stalks of celery with the leaves, thinly sliced on the diagonal
10-12 cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
a handful of broccoli flowers, optional

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
the zest of 1/2 lime
6-8 cranks freshly ground black pepper
salt, to taste

Wash and pat dry the mizuna and place in a large bowl; add celery and tomatoes.

To make the dressing, whisk all ingredients in a small bowl. Add to salad; toss well to coat, then sprinkle with broccoli flowers, if using.

**Mizuna substitutions to consider: watercress, wild arugula, tender baby kale or mustard greens, tatsoi (another spicy Asian green that is usually available in markets such as Whole Foods.)

Other spicy green dishes you might like:

spring time daffodils

Speaking of Trader Joe's and yellow flowers, here is a bouquet of TJ's cheerful daffodils (unlike the broccoli flowers, I wouldn't eat them). After about 6 weeks, it's time to say good-bye to daffodils until next year. I hope Sandi likes daffodils since this is my entry for her Centerpiece of the Month.

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Finla said...

I have never seen brocoli flowers .
Salade looks beautiful.
I always love reading the talks you and Jeff.
It is just like reading a book ;-)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

So you missed out on the Taco salad of the 70's!
This is really beautiful and I'll definitely be looking for the mizuna now!

Manggy said...

Eek! I've not heard of Catalina dressing but that "classic" salad you illustrated sounds vile. Give me your exotic, beautiful (and tasty!) greens any day. I wish we had as much variety in our markets as you do, though. Many markets would not even think of selling baby greens and many people would not even think of eating flowers. Sigh.

Mishmash ! said...

Learned lot about salad leaves today !:) Your notes have that subtle humour and simplicity that keeps the reader interested till the end :)


Deeba PAB said...

Am sure Sandi would LOVE that centrpiece's beautiful! Love your salad conversation...ha ha! Have an award waiting for you dear girl...
Have a great day!

Simona Carini said...

very nice, Susan. I never tasted broccoli flowers: I will do so soon.

David Hall said...

Hi Susan, love the broccoli flowers, it really does look amazing!


Terry at Blue Kitchen said...

I love how jazzed you get about salads, Susan. And with something as beautiful as this, small wonder. You gave substitutes for the mizuna. Any ideas for the broccoli flowers? Just for color, one could add marigold petals, I know. Have no idea if the taste is even vaguely similar, though.

By the way, I'm a little slow on the uptake, but I just spotted your NPR articles in the sidebar. Very cool!

Ivy said...

Never heard of these before but they sound very good.

Anonymous said...

Darn! I was just at Trader Joe's buying pistachios (Deeba keeps tempting me with them). I really should have checked your blog out first b/c it's so dang hot today that a salad would be perfect. Thanks for sharing. I had to laugh with the reference to the 80's - do you remember when sun-dried tomatoes were in everything? Now, I rarely see them.

xoxox Amy

Swati said...

A superb centerpiece Susan ...Flowers look amazing!!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

We're not getting any garden greens just yet, but the daffodils are finally making an appearance. I'll definitely be on the lookout for broccoli flowers this summer.

cindy said...

i grew up in salinas, so i have definately seen broccoli flowers! our daffodils are just getting put put in the t.j.'s...we are far behind you in the flowers!

Nic said...

I love the title of this post.
Interesting about the broccoli flowers, I just thought it was the broc that had gone to seed, didn't know it was tasty. Will definitely give it a try. Thanks!

Annie said...

You certainly know your salads!
And you know how to make them stunning and absolutely beautiful!
That salad could definately serve as a table decoration as well.
I never knew broccoli flowers were yellow. Thanks for the enlightenment Susan!

Deborah Dowd said...

This looks like a technicolor salad, just bursting with flavor. I love dishes that look as good as they taste!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

happy cook-Oh, thanks so much for those kind words.

tanna-Dang! I forgot about the taco salad!

mark-No baby greens? Oh, no!

shn-I really appreciate that. Thanks!

deeba-Daffodils always make me smile, and so do you. Thanks a bunch for the award! :)

simona-Try looking for them at the farmers' markets.

david-Wish you could taste it!

terry-No, the taste of a marigold is different, much less spicy. Have you ever seen arugula flowers? They're similar in taste to broccoli flowers. And thanks!

ivy-They make salad a lot more exciting.

amy-I still love my sun-dried tomatoes, but they're not as "hot" as they used to be.

swati-Why, thank you!

lydia-Then spring is arriving in new England!

cinderelly-ooh, enjoy them!

nic-They are tasty, trust me!

annie-You're welcome. I'm just a salad nerd, what can I say?

deborah-Ooh, I could have called it the technicolor salad. ;)

Anonymous said...

What a great looking salad-- especially the colors of the salad against the colors of the bowl. Truly gorgeous. In fact, all your photographs for this post look particularly vibrant.

Kalyn Denny said...

The salad looks great. I don't think I've seen broccoli flowers. I'm guessing they must be something like the yellow flowers on broccoli raab though? I love the idea of a salad with flowers!

Unknown said...

the picture looks appetizing, susan. i love mizuna in salads. not sure about broccoli flowers, though. haven't tried those. we tend to let the broccoli flowering and seeding, but never thought to put them in salads. great info you provide here.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

You're right - HDTV is a must-have for this salad. We can get mizuna here, no problem - but I've not seen broccoli flowers... :(

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan :)
Love your salad and the daffodils are beautiful.

Cris said...

I will definetely look out for mizuna! Hey, I always got that look when I was an exchange student and asked about arugula, it was not popular at all at the time, well, that was 20 years ago!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Mizuna is completely new to me, susan, but it looks exactly like what I had in Berlin and they called it arugula. It tasted peppery and delicious.

That salad looks amazing and I'd get excited over it too!

Proud Italian Cook said...

Susan, You have a way with words! I love reading your posts, and your salad looks delish!

A.C. said...

This look fabulous! I am always looking for new ways to sneak greens into my diet and I get tired of bagged baby greens melting to mush in my veggie drawer!
The broccoli flowers make the salad so beautiful, and tasty :)

Anonymous said...

Haha I love the TV analogy and those flowers are gorgeous!

Kelly-Jane said...

Both your pictures are beautiful, all Spring-time pretty. :)

Emily said...

I feel healthier just reading your post about greens. That salad looks terrific!

I'm looking forward to your bones event.

Mandy said...

beautiful daffodils and salad. I have a love hate relationship with arugula, because the first time I tried it, it gave me throat ulsers and a miserable vacation. Now, mesclun is something I want to try, because you say it's soooo 2008! :)

RecipeGirl said...

Hmmm. Looks interesting. I'm always looking for new things to add to my salads.

We grew up with iceberg lettuce salad covered with blue cheese dressing and sprinkled with bacon bits :)

Jeanne said...

Have seen mizuna but never knew what it was - and thanks also for clearing up the definition of mesclun!! Have never seen or even heard of broccoli flowers - you crazy Californians - what next? ;-)

My husband is a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to salad so the standard iceberg/tomato/cucumber combo stil reigns supreme at Chez Cooksister. But at least he does dress his salad properly with olive oil & balsamic!

Anonymous said...

Those broccoli flowers are beautiful. You're lucky, i can never find them.

Cakelaw said...

Thansk for posting about this salad - I agree that the old lettuce, tomato and cucumber salad is now very old hat. I love the look of broccoli flowers - I hve never seen them before, but they are beautiful!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

Your salads help me realize how little I know about salad and what goes into them (I just don't know enough about green leafy items). This really looks incredible and the broccoli flowers really make it look stunning. Very nice work!

glamah16 said...

Both of these are new to me and I will be on the hunt for them. Isnt it amazing how the salad has evolved!

K Allrich said...

Love the yellow daffodils. A rare sight here in Northern New Mexico.

Johanna GGG said...

great information on salad leaves - I confess to not really being a huge leaf person. I think I have seen the mizuna before without any clues about what I saw but I have never even heard of broccoli flowers - i will look out for these but am still living in hope of seeing purple sprouting broccoli locally!

Veron said...

I've never heard of mizuna but this definitely keep an eye out for it now!

Helene said...

Beautiful salad and the title cracked me up. Just wanted to add in a light manner: don't go to France and say "mescla" to mean "to mix" though, you'd get the weird eye! It is Provencal which like many regional dialects is only spoken on rare occasions, adn only in Provence(that's where I am from), so you would leave any Parisian wondering!

Anonymous said...

Mizuna is a wonderful green and it's great to see more people enjoying it, isn't it? It's peppery flavors remind me a lot of dandelion - but a bit more subtle-tasting. If I could find some nice tender broccoli flowers like those in your photo, I'd definitely make this salad. It's really nutritious and great-looking.

Anonymous said...

We get very excited about salads in our house too Susan! I've never come across broccoli flowers but if I do I'll be sure to snap them up.

Heather said...

these pictures are beautiful!

Chris said...

"green pointy things" sounds like something I would say! This is a beautiful salad. I don't think I have ever seen such a lovely looking one in person before.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Salads just aren't what we remember as kids...just so much better Every once in a while though I do crave some iceburg just has that flashback to the past feeling:D

Susan said...

Odd. Left a comment days ago; guess it didn't take. Anyway, love mesclun greens, especially the "pointy things." I always assumed they were
frisée even though I've heard of mizuna. Hope I can find either of them someday that aren't in a mix.

Thanks, Susan, for a splendid salad to share with WHB!

Anonymous said...

The problem is iceberg has no flavor but great texture. That makes it an awesome addition to a salad, but awful to base one on.

That's why it's also the best choice for BLTs.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

julie-Thanks so much! The colors in the salad helped!

kalyn-Yes, they are like them, only smaller and brighter.

arfi-It basically is the flowers when the broccoli goes to seed. Try them!

forkful-It'll be delicious anyway.

maryann-Daffs just make me smile.

cris-Ooh, I hope you find it; it's so robust.

patricia-It is similar in taste to wild arugula.

marie-Oh, thanks so much; I appreciate that.

corinne-I know what you mean!

hillary-Well, mizuna almost costs as much as a t.v. ;)


emiline-Thanks, I am too!

mandy-oh, no, throat ulcers. Please be careful with the mizuna then! I want you to be 2008 but a healthy 2008. :)

lore-That was my dad's favorite!

jeanne-Thank goodness you said olive oil and balsamic! I was worried there for a minute. ;)

zen-Farmers' markets are your best bet.

cakelaw-Same as above. :)

mike-Living here has taught me a lot about salad greens. I appreciate them so much more now.

coco-It's pretty cool.

karina-Really? Then please enjoy! :)

johanna-Ooh, yeah, baby, purple sprouting broccoli is so 2008 it's almost 2009! ;)

veron-Good luck!

helen-Thanks for the info. I wouldn't want to get "the eye." ;)

christine-I agree completely with your description.

helen-You'll be glad you did.

heather-Thanks a lot!

chris-Wow! That means a lot. Thanks.

val-Yeah, I know what you mean, with Catalina or blue cheese dressing, right? :)

susan-I'm so glad you liked it.

FatB-So true. Gosh, when is the last time I made BLT's?

Lori Lynn said...

I'm very excited to try broccoli flowers.

Thanks for the French "mesclun" lesson. I didn't know that...

Jaime said...

what a stunningly beautiful salad!

Anonymous said...

That is a beautiful salad, I'd keep it on the dinner table for decoration :). The colors perfectly capture spring and summer's spirit.

Anonymous said...

Good Job! :)

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