I was just reading about the salad green called mâche in French and learned that it is rich in vitamin C. Good, because with these colds — mine is definitely better but Walt is still really suffering — we need a lot of that vitamin right now. We had a mâche salad for lunch yesterday, with fresh tomatoes (more vitamin C).
Fall is the season for mâche, which I've heard called "lambs' lettuce" and which I see is also called "corn salad" — that might be the British name for it, as "corn" means any grain over there and mâche can grow wild in fields of grain. Mâche goes by a lot of regional names in France.
Mâche makes a good salad with vinaigrette dressing. It's nutty flavored, not bitter, and has a nice tender texture. It contains a lot of beta-carotene and very few calories. It can also be eaten cooked like spinach. I've read that Thomas Jefferson grew mâche in his gardens at Monticello in Virginia two centuries ago. Walt and I once grew it in our vegetable garden in California.
In France, a frequent accompaniment to salade de mache is cooked beets. I've always seen it served that way here, since the 1970s. Another frequent accompaniment, and less desirable, is sand or grit. You have to wash mâche very carefully to make sure you get all the sand off it. Mâche is sold as tiny little plants — leaves, stems, and even roots. That's where the sand catches. You can carefully cut the root off each miniature mâche plant before you wash the leaves, if you have the patience.
The mâche that I found at SuperU the other day is remarkably grit-free. I've just had to wash it in a couple of changes of water and then spin it well to make it ready for dressing. The salad we had for lunch yesterday included mâche, lardons (smoked pork bacon), some of our last fresh tomatoes from the garden, beets, boiled potatoes, and hard-boiled eggs. The vinaigrette is made with Dijon mustard, cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and two oils, corn and olive.