Sunflower Salad

Chef Leo Asaro combines a variety of textures with bold flavors to create a crunchy kale salad that’s nicely balanced by a touch of heat and the sweet, tangy notes of Cape gooseberries. Sunflower petals give the dish a fresh, seasonal pop of color and ricotta salata adds a pleasant creamy element that complements the citrus juices. Keep your eyes peeled for Cape gooseberries, as they do have a short season, but keep in mind you can sub in tomatillos or regular old cherry tomatoes.


Servings: 6


  • 2 bunches Tuscan kale leaves, sliced thin
  • 1 pint Cape gooseberries, quartered
  • 1 pint sunflower seeds, shelled
  • 4 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup grapefruit juice
  • 1 cup sunflower petals
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup ricotta salata, shaved lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


For the sunflower seeds
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Rinse the kale and remove the leaves, discarding the stems, then cut the kale leaves into long, thin strips.
  3. Place the sunflower seeds in a mixing bowl. Add three tablespoons sugar and Sriracha.  Mix the sunflower seeds with a spatula until evenly coated.
  4. Arrange the sunflower seed mixture in a baking pan lined with parchment paper (a Silpat would be best).  Place baking pan in oven at 300 degrees for 12 minutes.
  5. Remove pan from oven and let the sunflower seeds cool.  The coating should become hard and the seeds will have to be broken apart by hand.
For the citrus vinaigrette
  1. Pour all of the juices in a mixing bowl. Add one tablespoon sugar and a touch of salt to taste. Mix thoroughly with a whisk.
To Serve
  1. Place kale and gooseberries in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the olive oil and scant amounts of the citrus vinaigrette to the kale, mixing well and trying to coat each piece of kale.
  3. Add the sunflower petals and mix again.
  4. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed.
  5. Place the salad in a bowl of your choice. Garnish with the sunflower seeds and shaved ricotta salata.

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