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Mache lettuce is a type of leafy, non-lettuce salad green. People who are familiar with it may recognize it by several different names, such as lamb's lettuce, doucette, or corn salad. It grows best in mild climates and can generally be found in Europe, although it is also grown in certain parts of the United States. There are many different varieties of mache that can be divided into two types: small-seeded and large-seeded. The small-seeded mache lettuce grows best when planted in cold weather months and the large-seeded type in warmer months.
As a plant, mache lettuce looks like low growing green rosettes. Its leaves typically have an elongated spoon shape or in some cases they may have a more rounded appearance. Although it is commonly described as having a medium green color, certain varieties, such as the blonde lamb's lettuce, have lighter colored leaves while others are a darker shade. The name "lamb's lettuce" comes from the elongated appearance of the leaves, which people often compared the shape and appearance of a lamb's tongue. In addition, it was also a favorite food of the animal when grazing.
An often expensive and highly perishable salad green, mache lettuce should only be purchased in quantities that can be eaten within two days. To prevent it from wilting, wrap any unused mache in paper towel and seal it in a plastic food storage bag. The bagged mache should then be kept in the refrigerator until ready to use. Prior to preparing it, remove the attached root and gently rinse any sand from the leaves. As the leaves are delicate, it is important to handle with care to avoid bruising them.
When considering mache lettuce for a salad it's important to complement its taste. With a nutty and somewhat sweet flavor, this salad green is comparable to Bibb and Boston lettuce and can be easily used as a substitute for spinach in both raw and cooked dishes. Steaming the leaves or using them in omelets or soups are just a few of the ways to prepare this mild green. Salads made using mache are enjoyable when eaten without the addition of any other green and using only a light vinaigrette as dressing. Adding complementary food such as avocado, pine nuts, feta cheese, apples or blueberries can also be an enjoyable way to partake of this type of salad green.
Nutritionally, mache lettuce is a healthy choice for making green salad. It has high amounts of both vitamin A and C. Lamb's lettuce, or mache lettuce, is also a good source of vitamin B6. Additionally, it also provides phosphorous, zinc, folic acid, magnesium, and a small amount of vitamin B9.