With its attractive fringed leaves and mild, peppery flavor, mizuna is as delicious as it is exotic! You probably won’t find this Asian green at your supermarket, but your farmers’ market might very well display heaps of it. That’s because this little plant is vigorous and extremely hardy – a perfect crop.
I always have a bed of mizuna growing in my own garden. Every year I marvel at its ability to tolerate summer’s heat waves without bolting or wilting – and winter’s deep freezes, its green leaves poking persistently through a blanket of snow.
In today’s recipe, the spunky mizuna leaves are tossed with a delicate Champagne vinaigrette and adorned with snappy cucumbers, creamy feta, zingy red onions and aromatic fresh tarragon.
This crisp, refreshing and nutritious summer salad makes eating your greens a joy!
Food & wine pairing: Sancerre, Sauvignon Blanc with mizuna and cucumber salad
A citrusy and herbaceous white works perfectly here. The safe bet is a Sauvignon Blanc from cooler regions like Sancerre or Marlborough (New Zealand). For a more original (and enticing!) pairing try an Assyrtiko, the illustrious white wine from Santorini (Greece). GAIA Wines, one of Santorini’s best wineries, makes particularly stunning Assyrtikos that are worth seeking out.
Mizuna and cucumber salad with red onions, feta, tarragon and Champagne vinaigrette
active time: 30 min
For the vinaigrette
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds – finely crushed in a mortar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground white pepper to taste
For the salad
- 1/2 medium red onion
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 5 oz (140 g) baby mizuna, baby arugula or watercress
- 1 medium cucumber (12 oz) (340 g) – peeled, seeded and cut in 1/4” cubes
- 4 oz (115 g) feta cheese – crumbled
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
- Step 1: To make the vinaigrette – Place the fennel seeds, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk until well blended and set aside.
- Step 2: Peel the onion then, using a mandoline, cut crosswise in 1/16” slices. Fill a medium bowl with cold water and add the distilled vinegar and onion slices. Stir and let stand for 15 minutes.
- Step 3: To serve – Drain the onion slices on paper towels. Place the greens in a large bowl and toss with half the vinaigrette. Divide the greens onto four plates, shaping them into a mound in the center of each plate. Sprinkle with the cucumber cubes and the crumbled feta. Top with the onion slices. Drizzle with the balance of the vinaigrette. Sprinkle with fresh tarragon and freshly ground white pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
- Soaking cut onions in a cold-water-and-vinegar bath for a few minutes will get rid of the sulfurous molecules that can cause unpleasant after-effects long after you’ve eaten them. This is called “de-flaming” an onion – a rather appropriate term since it literally gets rid of those annoying onion-flames!