Other Names: Corn salad, field salad, lamb’s lettuce, nut lettuce, valerianella.
General Description: Mâche (Valerianella locusta) is a tender winter salad green with soft rounded green leaves. This salad green has been cultivated since at least the 16th century in France, Italy, Germany, Britain, and Belgium. Culti-vated from a wild Eurasian plant, mâche has tender, velvety, spoon-shaped leaves that grow in rosettes and have a gentle flavor reminiscent of sweet hazelnuts.
Mâche is known as lamb’s lettuce for several reasons: its resemblance to a lamb’s tongue, its harvest at the lambing season, and its status as a favorite food of lambs. European-grown mâche has a complex flavor. In Europe, mâche is usually field grown, although export mâche is mostly greenhouse grown in Holland.
*Season: Greenhouse-grown mâche is available year-round. Field-grown mâche is occasionally found in specialty markets.
Purchase: Look for bright, lively green leaves. Most American mâche is greenhouse grown and comes with its root-ball attached, meaning that it is still alive and growing.
Avoid: Pass up mâche with wilted, yellow, or broken leaves.
Storage: Store mâche in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days, using it as soon as possible.
Preparation: Note: Mâche bruises easily, so handle it gently.
- Trim away the rootlets.
- Swish the leaves in a bowl of tepid water and then lift out.
- Pat dry on paper towels.
Make a salad of winter greens, including Belgian endive or Treviso radicchio, mâche, and frisée. Dress delicate mâche with walnut, hazelnut, or grapeseed oil dressing.
from Quirk Books: www.quirkbooks.com