The Dirt on Local Lettuce
Summer is here and the weather is just right for tender and tasty local lettuce.
It does indeed come in many shapes and forms. A particular trend that has taken the culinary world by storm in recent years is ‘mesclun mix,’ ‘mixed baby greens,’ or simply ‘lazy lettuce.’
Convenient and nutritious, now that’s hard to beat!
I grew up with iceberg lettuce. Mostly water with lots of crunch, it transports well and was a great vehicle for salad dressing. It is still widely cultivated and used extensively as a sandwich garnish. It is a little lacking in the nutrition department.
Romaine was hugely popular for a number of years as the Caesar salad craze swept the nation. It still has a lot going for it and was an upgrade from iceberg. Then a few years back somebody in California got the bright idea to intentionally grow and sell ‘mixed baby greens.’ Young and tender, very colorful with a quick to market turnaround time, the idea took off.
So what is mesclun mix? The term is actually redundant as mesclun is a French word for mix. And mix is certainly the intent! A variety of lettuce seeds are sown at the same time for a balance of color, flavor and crunch. Lettuce itself is mild in flavor so we add radicchio for a touch of bitterness, frisee for texture and crunch, mustard greens for a piquant flavor, and arugula for that slight peppery kick! (These are only some of the possibilities—virtually any young green can be an element of the mix) Not only is mesclun pleasing to the eye but the varieties provide a mix of flavonoid phytonutrients! Who knew?
So right now we have local farms delivering mesclun mix, as well as spinach, arugula, red leaf, green leaf lettuce and romaine! Carefully sown and nurtured right here in the Upper Valley, some of this lettuce comes to market in approximately 30 days! Read more about our amazing local farms here.
You still like heads of lettuce the best? Don’t worry, they are still in “the mix!” Our local farms plant them differently and give them a little bit more time to ‘head up.’
Not that I want to get into the whole carbon footprint thing but if we don’t have to buy California produce, why should we? Especially when it is being grown right here, in our own backyard, by our friends and neighbors! Buy Local!
Simple Lettuce Recipe
Serve with local tomatoes your favorite salad dressing!