A potpourri of young salad greens, mesclun (MEHS-kluhn) is sometimes sold as “spring mix” or “baby salad mix” and is often available in bulk. Contents of mesclun vary by season and availability, but the mix of flavors and textures generally leads to tasty salads. Here are some likely components:
- Arugula (ah-ROO-guh-lah): Also known as Italian cress or rocket, arugula has a peppery taste and its leaves resemble radish leaves. It’s great in creamy pasta sauces as well as salads.
- Baby Spinach: Young spinach is more tender and delicately flavored than its mature counterpart.
- Belgian Endive: Sometimes called French endive, this member of the chicory family grows as a cigar-shaped head with tightly packed leaves. Endive is grown in darkness to prevent it from turning green. It has an assertive, somewhat bitter taste and is also good for braising.
- Dandelion Greens: From the same “weed” you curse in your lawn, dandelion greens are best picked before dandelion flowers. They have a slightly bitter, tangy taste.
- Frisee (free-ZAY): A member of the chicory family, frisee has Curly yellow-white to yellow-green leaves. Also called curly endive, it has a mildly bitter taste.
- Mache (MAHSH): A small-leafed green, mache is known as lamb’s lettuce or corn salad and has a somewhat sweet flavor.
- Mizuna (mih-ZOO-nuh): A Japanese green, with spicy, peppery taste, mizuna has serrated leaves that resemble dandelion leaves.
- Oak Leaf: A decorative and flavorful leaf lettuce resembling oak leaves, oak leaf lettuce can be green or red in color.
- Radicchio (rah-DEE-kee-oh): A bitter, assertive taste characterizes radicchio, an Italian member of the chicory family. These red leaves with white veins are also good roasted and in risottos.
- Sorrel (SOR-uhl): The long slender leaves of sorrel have flavors that range from fruity to slightly acidic. They’re good in soups and stews as well as salads.
- Watercress: This member of the mustard family has with small, crisp leaves and a sightly bitter and peppery taste.
The Perfect House Salad
Start with a wooden bowl as your empty canvas, and design your way to a fantastic salad.
2 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons honey
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic or fig vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 cups mesclun or mixed greens, such as arugula and Romaine
1/2 cup roasted salted pumpkin seeds
2 oranges, peeled and sectioned
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1. Mash garlic cloves with salt in a large wooden salad bowl. Let stand 10 minutes. Add mustard, honey, pepper, balsamic vinegar and oil. Stir well, and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes or all day.
2. Add mesclun, pumpkin seeds, orange sections and red onion. Toss well. Serves 6.
Per serving: 213 calories, 14g fat, 0mg chol., 7g prot., 17g carbs., 3g fiber, 214mg sodium
Recipe by Lisa Burns, Chattanooga, Tenn.
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Photo credit: Mark Boughton Photography; styling by Teresa Blackburn