Farmer’s Table: Mâche, Avocado and Grapefruit Salad | Metro Kanawha | – Charleston Gazette-Mail


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Mâche is one of my favorite salad greens. It is one of the earliest plants to emerge in the garden. With this year’s warm weather, I have already harvested enough to add to winter salads.I was introduced to this unique plant while visiting Germany during Fasching (Mardi Gras). There were many celebrations during that time and bowls of mâche salads were abundant at every potluck dinner.Mâche is an annual plant that grows wild in many areas, but I grow a variety bred to have larger leaves and a sweeter flavor than the wild plants. Mâche goes by several names. Corn salad, lamb’s lettuce and field salad are the most common. In Germany, mâche is called feldsalat, which translates to “field salad.”Mâche grows in rosette clusters that are low to the ground. They have a slightly nutty flavor that blends beautifully with salads containing chopped hazelnuts or served with a hazelnut oil dressing. A drizzle of walnut oil and a squeeze of lemon are enough to dress the tender leaves.The rosettes are fragile. They have a short shelf life, which is one of the reasons mâche rarely appears in the produce section at the supermarket.A mâche plant will fully mature and complete its life cycle in about 50 days, which is another reason it is rarely seen at the market. A drawback to commercial growers is the cost of having mâche harvested mostly by hand. Lettuces grown commercially are usually harvested mechanically. Since mâche grows low to the ground, mechanical harvesting is difficult, if not impossible.Of all of the salad greens, mâche is one of the easiest to grow in the home garden and requires little maintenance. It grows just about anywhere and in any soil. It does need good drainage and tends to do better in soil rich in organic matter. I have one patch in a raised bed and another in a section of my herb garden.When planting seeds, mâche is generally sown directly in the garden in the fall, but it can be planted in very early spring, too. There is no need to worry about spacing. Broadcast the seed and cover it with about 1/8-inch soil. If planted in the fall, lightly mulch after the ground has frozen.Once the plants emerge in the spring, keep them weeded and watered. Since the growing season is so short, no fertilizer is necessary if the seeds were planted in composted soil. There will be enough nutrients to provide healthy rosettes. Pale leaves will indicate the need for added nutrients.Mâche can be harvested in several ways. It can be harvested like “cut-and-come-again” lettuces. Large outer leaves on the rosettes can be cut, leaving the rest of the rosette to mature. When the entire rosette is cut, there is nothing left to regrow.As the weather warms, mâche will bolt, flower and set seed. The rosettes become unpalatable at that point, but I never pull the plants. Mâche will self-seed and reappear the following year. I have been able to keep my patch going for nearly two decades with little to no effort.Slugs can be a problem because they like tender, low-growing leaves. The damp spring soil is an invitation for a slugfest. Coffee grounds or diatomaceous earth will usually deter the pests from decimating this early spring crop.Not only is mâche delicious, but it can also provide nutrients at a time when fresh garden produce is in short supply. It supplies nearly as much Vitamin C as lemon juice.To serve this mâche salad, you’ll probably have to grow your own. This is one green that should be served as soon as possible after harvesting. That’s when its taste can be fully savored.Mâche, Avocado and Grapefruit SaladIngredients: 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard2 tablespoons fruity olive oil4 to 6 teaspoons fresh lemon juice1 grapefruit1 avocadoMâcheSaltPomegranate arils for garnish (optional)For the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, mix the mustard, oil and lemon juice until completely blended.Peel, section and remove the membrane of grapefruit.Place sections in a salad bowl.Add sliced avocado and mâche leaves.Gently toss. Add salt to taste.Garnish as desired.

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