Mache and spinach are two of the earliest crops available to harvest for growers in the northeast. Both crops love cool temperatures. The mache in our hoophouse is about ready to eat. Mache, also called Corn Salad and Lambs Lettuce (by the British), has a mild, almost nutty/minty taste. Its silky leaves practically melt in your mouth and are the perfect green to enhance a spring salad.
We currently carry two varieties -- Vit and Jade. We're trialing about 30 new varieties now and hope to offer an organic Mache soon.
Mache is easy to grow as long as you have cold temperatures. You can sow it with spinach in late October as you put your garden to bed for an overwintering crop. Or, you can plant Mache in cold frames and hoophouses for a late winter harvest. It can be sown in the spring (as soon as the soil can be worked) for a late spring harvest. It will not do well in warm weather so the sooner you can plant, the better.
A recipe for Mâche and Avocado Salad with Tortilla Strips
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 6-inch-diameter corn tortillas, each cut into 3 x 1/2-inch strips
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped shallot
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
10 cups (loosely packed) mâche or baby spinach
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick strips
Heat 1/4 cup oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry tortilla strips until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.
Whisk lime juice, shallot, and honey in small bowl. Whisk in 3 tablespoons oil. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool strips completely and store in airtight container at room temperature. Cover and chill dressing.
Place mâche and avocado in large bowl. Add dressing; toss. Season with salt and pepper. Top with tortilla strips.
Some other mache culinary tips:
- Pairs well with dressings that are nut oil based (walnut oil very nice), always dress immeadiately before serving or leaves will wilt.
- Traditional French preparations include Salad Lorette (Mache with julienned beets and celery in a vinaigrette) and Salade de Mache (Dressing of salt, pepper, olive oil, and sherry vinegar with some thinly sliced shallots. Gently toss whole rosettes in dressing and serve.)