by Kate Heyhoe
If you haven't seen much mâche on menus yet, you will. Mâche is a salad green, also known as lamb's lettuce, corn salad, field salad or doucette. It's commonly found in Europe, having originated in France, and has been quite rare and expensive in North America. Until now.
At this year's International Association of Culinary Professionals conference, a company called Epic Roots poured out their bags of emerald-green mâche, field-grown in Salinas, California. Sold to foodservice suppliers, restaurants and under private label to specialty grocers like Trader Joe's, the small and tender mâche leaves are triple-washed, pretty, tasty and convenient to use—an ideal green for both trendy chefs and time-challenged home cooks. They even keep for up to two weeks under refrigeration.
Despite their delicate appearance, mâche leaves hold up well against strong flavors. They have a slight nutty taste, with a natural sweetness and a pleasantly tender texture—not as tough as spinach but also not as flimsy as green leaf lettuce. Their roundish leaves, from quarter-to-penny sizes, grow in lovely rosette heads. Visually, a handful of mâche on a plate adds lightness, color and airiness, while the flavor perks up even the most mundane dishes.
Personally, I think mâche is at its best as a salad green, but it can also be pleasantly puréed into soups and sauces, or steamed or sautéed like spinach or other greens. Nutritionally, mâche is packed with healthy fiber, iron, the antioxidant lutein, folic acid, potassium and vitamin C.
This summer, seek out mâche where you buy such gourmet produce as Belgian endive, arugula and other specialty vegetables. Included below are a selection of mâche salad recipes, and for summer dining, toss mâche with a few fresh herbs, olive oil and balsamic vinegar for an easy complement to grilled foods.
Mâche Salad Recipes (from Epic Roots)
Copyright © 2002, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created June 2002