Farmer’s Table: Feldsalat | Metro Kanawha | wvgazettemail.com – Charleston Gazette-Mail

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It was during Mardi Gras/Fasching in Germany that I was first introduced to feldsalat (field salad) also called Mâché, corn lettuce or lamb’s lettuce.It is a plant that has been cultivated for hundreds of years and was a foraged plant before that. It was considered a peasant food. Today it is a gourmet delicacy.Feldsalat is a European salad green that grows in small rosettes. It grows best in cool weather, so we always sow our seeds in the fall in anticipation of this early crop in February and March. It is a fragile, short-lived plant that is usually grown as an annual.Feldsalat will bolt as the weather gets progressively warmer. I allow a few plants to go to seed. By doing this, I have been successful in maintaining a small plot of feldsalat from year to year. A plant will fully mature and complete its life cycle in 40 to 70 days.Feldsalat is one of those plants that will grow anywhere in most types of soil. It tends to grow best in soil that is rich in organic or compost matter. Feldsalat doesn’t require much maintenance, since isn’t around for a long time. The growing season is so short, there is no need to fertilize the plants. The organic matter or compost will provide all of the nutrients needed for healthy growth.Feldsalat can withstand temperatures down to 5 degrees without protection. Since it was to be very cold last week, I picked some of the largest rosettes before they were frozen.Plants do not have to be spaced like other types of lettuce. In German gardens, the rosettes do well bunched together. I broadcast my seeds in my herb garden.Feldsalat is very tender, velvety, and has a sweet, slightly nutty taste. A simple, delicate dressing of oil and lemon juice is all it needs to become a delicious salad.At every German potluck Fasching party, you can be certain there will be several bowls of feldsalat. One bite, and you can easily become addicted to the distinctive taste.Feldsalat can be harvested by picking the outer leaves of the rosettes, leaving the plant to produce more leaves. You can also pick the entire rosette.Feldsalat is one of earliest items to emerge in our garden. It is filled with nutrients. Due to its short life, you rarely find it on supermarket shelves. Sometimes it will show up at farmers markets.Since feldsalat is not a very durable green, it must be used right away. I am lucky to have my own plot, and I can harvest right before I plan to serve it.Here are a few suggestions for making a simple yet delicious salad, if you are lucky to find mâché your supermarket this spring.• Use the whole mâché rosettes, if possible. (washed, roots removed).•  Add flavorful cheese bits to your salad. (blue cheese, feta, or chevre)• Dried fruit provides a nice, sweet accent. (cranberries, currents, date pieces, etc.)• Drizzle with high-quality oil (e.g., truffle oil, olive oil, walnut oil)• Use a splash of Balsamic or red wine vinegar• Season with artisan salt and cracked pepper, to taste.

For questions about recipes or other information, contact Susan Maslowski at [email protected] or go to metrokanawha.com. Susan also has a Farmer’s Table Facebook page.
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