Mâche pronounced mash sounds like posh
Mâche is a salad green with a long history. It grew wild in the pastures of Europe and Asia Minor and was first cultivated in France in the early part of the 17th century. Thomas Jefferson harvested Mâche at his farm at Monticello. Mâche has been called lamb’s lettuce, corn salad, field salad, feldsalat, salade de ble’ and Doucette, little sweet one.
This pretty little European salad green used to be rather exclusive on this continent, which is surprising when you look at the many names it has been given: field lettuce, lamb’s lettuce and corn salad (it grows wile in corn fields).
In its native Europe, Mâche is mostly a cold-weather crop, but here it is available virtually year-round.
How to Select
Look for perky little leaf clusters of vibrant, deep green color.
We usually only see Mâche (or lamb’s lettuce) in restaurants where chefs sometimes use its tiny leaves as much for style as for flavor. But this heirloom variety of Mâche from California has a nutty flavor and substantial texture that make it a versatile green. Dress it with a light citrus vinaigrette for an elegant salad or use it as a bed for grilled steak. Mâche is a bit sturdier than most varieties and holds up well in the refrigerator. The product has a shelf life in the refrigerator of up to 2 weeks.
Today Mâche is grown from heirloom seeds in the mineral-rich soil and moist climate of California’s Salinas Valley, a region that bears a striking resemblance to the Loire Valley of France, the center of Europe’s Mâche production. Mâche is an immensely popular green in Europe.
- Sweet nutty flavor.
- High in vitamins and minerals such as A, B12, C, Calcium, Potassium, Iron, Zinc and Lutein (a powerful antioxidant).
- Excellent source of fiber.
Anything Spinach Can Do... Mâche Can Do Better
We need dark green leafy vegetables. They are filled with concentrated doses of essential vitamins and minerals like folic acid, iron and Vitamin A. Still, for many of us greens are, at best, a duty, and, at worst, something to be avoided. Until now, spinach was the great greens compromise. Today there is a better choice…. Mâche, the most versatile green.
Mâche packs the same nutritional punch as spinach and other dark leafy greens. It is high in fiber, folic acid, iron, calcium, potassium, vitamins A and C, antioxidants and it is low in calories (20 calories per 3 ounce serving).
Comparing Spinach to Mâche
- Spinach has a slightly bitter taste.
- Mâche is sweet and nutty.
- Spinach looks like every other green.
- Mâche has a beautiful rosette shape.
- Spinach has a chewy texture and coats the teeth with a residue.
- Mâche is succulent and velvety.
- Spinach contains oxalic acid, hampering the absorption of calcium.
- Mâche is nearly free of oxalic acid.
In the kitchen, Mâche is even easier to use than spinach. It can be served simply dressed with olive oil vinaigrette. Its subtle taste marries perfectly with cheese, seafood and meats. It can be sautéed or braised in stews and stir-frys. And its beautiful leaves make a wonderful garnish in soups or surrounding a grille dish.
These little greens can be sautéed and treated like you would spinach, but mostly they are used as a salad ingredient. Their mild yet slightly nutty flavor can get lost in a mesclun-type salad mix, especially one with assertive bitter greens. Because of its attractive shape Mâche is perfect for dressing up a plate, particularly if the main course is poultry or fish. Pinch the stems off and leave the clusters intact. Dress them lightly with vinaigrette made with olive oil or part olive and part nut oil, such as hazelnut.
Mâche also pairs well with fruits or vegetables. Vinaigrette-dressed Mâche can be served with sliced ripe pears or persimmons, a scattering of toasted nuts and maybe a little mild goat cheese.
Salad of Mâche with Aritchokes and Nicoise Olives
Mâche with Olive Oil and Salt
Salad of Mâche with Roasted Beets and Orange Vinaigrette
Other recipes from Produce Pete.