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Don Angie's Chrysanthemum Salad

Servings:
4-6
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Chef notes

This is our take on a Caesar, in distinctly New York fashion, using delicate chrysanthemum greens in lieu of lettuce. We were introduced to these greens when we lived in an apartment on the Lower East Side, near Chinatown, above a restaurant serving Yunnanese food.

We did a Caesar-style prep on the greens, with a toasted sesame breadcrumb to bring it back to the original Asian influence, and a snowdrift of finely grated Parmesan atop the whole surface.

Technique tip: Use a rasp grater to grate the Parmesan cheese atop the salad so it's as airy and light as the salad itself.

Swap option: Chrysanthemum greens can be found at Asian grocers and occasionally farmers markets. You can also find Kewpie or Japanese mayonnaise at your local Asian market. If you can't find Chrysanthemum greens, use 10 to 12 ounces of mizuna (which will have more of a bitter taste) or baby arugula.

Ingredients

Roasted Garlic Puree (makes 2 cups)
  • 12 heads garlic, tops trimmed off
  • cups vegetable oil
Dressing
  • 1/3 cup Japanese mayonnaise, such as Kewpie
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 teaspoons roasted garlic puree (recipe above)
  • 1/2 anchovy fillet
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic, grated (from 2 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon colatura (Italian fish sauce)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Sesame bread crumbs (makes 1¾ cups)
  • 1 (13-ounce) baguette
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
Salad
  • pound chrysanthemum greens (about 25 stalks)
  • tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup sesame breadcrumbs (recipe above)
  • 1/4 pound Parmigiano-Reggiano, for grating

Preparation

For the roasted garlic puree:

1.

Heat oven to 275 F.

2.

Place garlic heads cut-side down in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Pour oil into the pan. The garlic should be covered about halfway up with oil. Cook for 1½ to 2 hours, or until the garlic has turned golden brown in color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

3.

When cool enough to handle, pour oil off into a bowl and set aside for future use (such as in a vinaigrette or for dipping bread into).

4.

In a separate bowl, gently squeeze each garlic head until the roasted cloves come out of the papery skins.

5.

Puree the roasted garlic in a blender until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use. Leftover puree can be reserved for another use (mixed into dressings, meatballs, etc.) and keeps well in the freezer.

For the dressing:

Place all ingredients in the blender and blend on high speed until incorporated. Set aside.

For the sesame breadcrumbs:

1.

Preheat oven to 250 F.

2.

Cut bread in half lengthwise. Using your hands, scoop out the soft inner part of the baguettes.

3.

Place the baguettes on a sheet tray and put them in the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until bread is totally crispy with no soft spots. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

4.

Working in batches, pulse breadcrumbs in the food processor until broken into small pieces, no larger than a nickel. Pour the processed crumbs into a sieve set over a bowl. Repeat the process until all bread is ground. Sift the crumbs to separate the coarse crumbs from the fine ones.

5.

In a medium pot or sauté pan, heat the olive oil, butter, salt and pepper over medium-high heat, moving often, until melted. Add the garlic and cook until very lightly toasted. Add in the coarse breadcrumbs and stir immediately to combine. Continue stirring and cooking over medium-high until breadcrumbs have turned light golden brown in color (about 3 minutes). Add the sesame seeds and stir well to combine. Remove from the pan and place on paper towels set over a plate to cool.

For the salad:

1.

Prepare an ice bath using a salad spinner: Place 2 cups of ice and 8 to 10 cups water in the bottom of the spinner and place the basket on top of the ice, submerged in the water.

2.

To clean chrysanthemum greens, pick the leaves (discard any that bruised) from the stalks and place them into the spinner in the ice water. Discard stalks. Allow greens to sit in the ice water for 10 to 20 minutes. Pull the spinner with the greens out, discard the ice and water and spin the salad dry.

3.

Toss greens with lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Place the dressed greens in a loose pile on a serving platter or individual plates. Drizzle the dressing deliberately and slowly over the top of the greens to dress them evenly. Top with the breadcrumbs. Grate Parmesan with a rasp grater over the top of the salad in order to coat the entire dish with cheese. Serve immediately.