THIS is Mâche — which is also called “corn lettuce” or “lamb’s lettuce”.
Mâche is a European salad green that grows in small, rosette-shaped bunches. It has dark green leaves on short stems. It has a distinct sweet taste—making it known as the “mayonnaise of salad greens”. It is wonderful dressed simply with toasted walnut oil and a dash of good sherry vinegar.
NPR Radio actually did a story on Mâche back in August 2003 — click here for the story and audio. I had known about Mâche and, had seen it in Trader Joe’s for a while before I finally picked up a bag. I am now addicted. This little lettuce is sweet, soft, velvety and nutty. All the goodness of other mesclun mixes without any bitterness or peppery bites — so it works well with many ingredients.
You can also cook Mâche as you would spinach, but I find the delicate flavor and texture perfect when eaten raw.
So what did I do with it? I made an incredible salad!
Mâche Salad with Avocado, Kumquat and Lemongrass
1 bag Mâche (4 oz — they have it at Trader Joe’s)
1/2 – 1 c. sliced kumquats, pits removed
1 tbsp thinly sliced fresh lemongrass (outermost stalk leave removed)
2 tbsp chopped fennel fronds (this was the 4-yo’s suggestion and worked great!)
1 1/2 avocados, cubed
Black Hawaiian rock sea salt (also from Trader Joe’s)
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 Meyer Lemon
2 Chive flowers, broken apart — for garnish
In a large bowl, combine Mâche, sliced kumquats, fennel fronds and lemongrass. Season with sea salt and fresh pepper. Drizzle liberally with EVOO. Squeeze the lemon juice to taste. Toss salad and then carefully fold in avocado. Sprinkle with a little more sea salt and pepper and then garnish with a sprinkling of chive flowers (not shown in picture below). Serve immediately in order to prevent the Mâche from wilting.
The sweetness of the kumquat rind, coupled with the sour Meyer lemon and buttery avocado and Mâche, was an amazing combination. Fresh, fragrant and a great pairing for grilled fish or chicken.