This little leafy green was a little trickier to research than most. It goes by many, many names (kind of like Val Kilmer in the last movie I can remember him in: “The Saint”): Corn Salad aka Mâche Verte aka Mâche Verte a Coeur aka Lamb’s Lettuce aka Lamb’s Tongue aka probably several other things. There are several varieties of this green, too. Even just by looking at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, I see three: Corn Salad Dutch, Mâche Verte a Coeur, and Mâche Verte d’Etampes. And wikipedia lists the following pseudonyms: Lewiston cornsalad, lamb’s lettuce, fetticus, field salad, mâche, feldsalat, nut lettuce and rapunzel.
I ordered these seeds last fall, planning to plant them this year, not knowing what Corn Salad was. I knew I wanted to grow a variety of greens in the garden, and the pictures on the seed packets looked lush, made the plant appear cute and compact, and described the plant as hearty and the flavor as nutty and mild.
Fast forward to March of this year when, dining at Blue Hill at Stone Barns for my brithday, I tasted Mâche for the first time – not knowing that I already had seeds at home, waiting to be planted. They were served to us as part of our first course, which included several fresh vegetables from the garden, raw and lightly seasoned. The Mâche was delicious. The leaves were tender and tiny, yet somehow meaty and very soft. The taste was mild, but flavorful and, across an 8-course tasting menu, the little Lamb’s Lettuce was stand-out and totally memorable. I went home thinking “I have to grow this in the garden.” When I finally started researching, I realized that I had already planned to.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns was an awesome place to eat just prior to starting up the garden for this season. Before the meal, we were able to wander through their on-site greenhouse and visit some of their resident livestock (the pigs were huge!). It was inspiring. And the dishes celebrate the fresh, unadultered flavors of the ingredients – particularly the vegetables – and that really got me excited to grow and eat my own.
Of course, our little planters pale by comparison to the Stone Barns greenhouse (above), but it cannot hurt to dream.
And though I don’t want pigs (above), or certainly not pigs THIS big. I do still want goats. So, all in all, the Stone Barns people are living the life I want – more or less.
“Sourcing from the surrounding fields and pasture, as well as other local farms, Blue Hill at Stone Barns highlights the abundant resources of the Hudson Valley. There are no menus at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Instead, guests are presented with a list of over a hundred ingredients, updated daily, which contains the best offerings from the field and market.” –Blue Hill at Stone Barns
As for our own Mâche, we transplated four to the outdoor planters last weekend, of which I think one is going to make it. Here he is:
But we direct sowed some seeds along with the transplants, so we’ll see if some of them take off outside – and we started another crop inside, just to cross our i’s and dot our t’s. Right now there is a second wave of corn salad seeds growing in our set-up:
It’s tough to say why they don’t seem to have survived the transplanting. Maybe the soil has been too dry (despite our best watering efforts), maybe they didn’t have enough light when they were just sprouts, maybe they weren’t acclimated to the cooler temperature enough… who knows? We are learning as we go and hopefully we’ll get some viable corn salad plants out of this when all is said and done.
Some more info. about Corn Salad (Lamb’s Lettuce!):
First, we will want to gather it before it flowers.
Second, it has including three times as much vitamin C as lettuce, beta-carotene, B6, B9, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Corn salad grows wild in parts of Europe, northern Africa and western Asia. In Europe and Asia it is a common weed in cultivated land and waste spaces. In North America it has escaped cultivation and become naturalized on both the eastern and western seaboards. – Wikipedia