Mache or do you say Lamb's Lettuce?
4/1/10 As some of you may know I do a monthly segment on food for the local ABC affiliate in Chicago on the first Sunday of each month at 8:15 am. You can also link to it at wls.com and search key word Tony Stallone. Here is a preview from this Sunday's show:
Easter is a time of renewal, of springing forth, as the Earth slowly turns from the cold dreary days of winter to the warmer, longer days of spring when fresh green tendrils begin to sprout from the ground. This weekend is also marks an important annual event in the produce industry that happens at this time; the migration of the growing fields from southern California and Arizona to the rich, fertile soils of America’s "salad bowl", Salinas Valley in central California. This is the surest sign of spring in the industry when all of our lettuce, artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower and more start to come from this area.
Speaking of lettuce, we will discuss, demonstrate and enjoy one of the harbingers of spring, a little-known lettuce called Mache. Ironically on Easter Sunday when so many of us are enjoying lamb, it is sometimes referred to as "lamb’s lettuce". This popular lettuce originates in Europe where it is belovedly called “Little Sweet One” by the French. It is also known by many more names such as field salad, corn salad (because it originally grew wild in between rows of crops), even the fairy tale name Rapunzel! Mache began life as weed but later started to be cultivated during Europe’s Renaissance period. It is a tender, mild lettuce with a slightly nutty flavor and because of its resistance to cold it is often one of the first lettuces to be harvested. It is loaded with plant-based (vs. pill based) heart-healthy Omega-3, very high in vitamin C (just 5 oz contains nearly all of our RDA) and a healthy dose of vitamin B9. It's also lower in calories, making it the healthiest of all lettuces you can eat! Mache grows in small clumps called rosettes that are vibrant green and slightly cupped, with a silky texture.
Here are some recipes to help our viewers enjoy this sweet delectable salad. The first recipe from our friends at Earthbound Farms for Mache Salad with Grapes & Almonds dressed with a simple vinaigrette. The almonds in this recipe will be Marcona almonds from Spain, the healthiest and most delicious almonds on the planet. Almonds are highly nutritious, containing more calcium than any other nut as well as healthy amounts of iron and vitamin E. Another preparation I like is simple salad of Mache with grapefruit segments and shrimp drizzled with olive oil and fresh lime juice (recipe attached). Some people refer to it as a spring tonic salad coming out of the long dark days of winter, the vitamins in the Mache help rejuvenate our bodies, minds and souls.
Mache is extremely versatile, it can be used in soup, pasta, stuffing and sandwiches, and can also stand up to warm dressings with out losing its color. For our final salad and our piece-de-resistance we will feature our “Things of Spring Salad”. What sort of things remind you of spring? For me it’s the first asparagus from California, the debut of the wild foraged morel mushrooms, rushing waters filled with trout, and of course fresh Mache. So I created a recipe that combines all of the above in a delicious, easy, savory salad that explodes with exuberant spring flavors!
See everyone on Sunday,