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Kitchener Market 2017

Mesclun

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Preview of Mesclun

Available

July 1 - September 30

Harvest Period

July 1 - September 30

Whether known as spring mix or salad greens, mesclun is simply a blend of lettuces, herbs and tender young greens generally used for salads. The term mesclun originates from the latin, misculāre, meaning to mix thoroughly, and if properly mixed the salad should combine four distinct tastes: mild, piquant, bitter and peppery.

What to Look For

Mesclun is perishable, so buy it absolutely fresh. It should be richly coloured, with no browning or wilting.

Cleaning and Preparation

To remove any grit, rinse in cold water and spin until dry. Don’t overwhelm these delicate leaves with over-seasoned, heavy store-bought dressings. The appeal of mesclun is in the texture and flavour of the individual leaves.

Storage

Refrigerate unwashed leaves for up to 3 days in the plastic bag or box in which they were bought.

Nutritional Information

Depending on the particular greens it includes, each batch of mesclun has a slightly different nutritional composition. In general, mesclun is nutritionally similar to romaine lettuce - substantially higher in vitamin A (beta-carotene), vitamin C, and folate than pale iceberg lettuce.

A good reason to eat mesclun is for the variety of colours that provide an array of different phytonutrients. For example, different salad greens offer distinct flavonoid phytonutrients. Green leaf varieties have the flavonoid called quercitin, but you’ll need red leaves to get any of the flavonoids called cyanidins. For a good source of kaempferol, you may want to include some endive.

One serving of mesclun (128g) provides approximately 35 calories, 0g fat, 4g carbohydrate, 3g fibre, and 2g protein.

How to Use

Mesclun pairs up very well with fruit like pears, cranberries, oranges and avocadoes. Nuts, seeds and sharp cheeses also complement the fine textures of the greens.  A light vinaigrette that gently binds the different ingredients is the best dressing for a mesclun salad.

Varieties

The mild flavor comes from the many varieties of leaf or Bibb lettuce, corn salad, and lollo rosso. The piquant taste is characteristic of mustard greens. The bitter or tart flavor originates with radicchio, escarole, mizuna or curly endive. And the peppery, spicy accents are expressions of arugula, tot soi or watercress. Some other ingredients that add zest and flavor to a mesclun salad mix are oak leaf, sorrel, parsley, basil, chives, fennel, celery leaf, purslane, and dandelion greens.

And to ensure that the salad has a proper presentation, there should be a good mix of leaf textures (smooth, frizzy, ruffled) and colours (light and dark green, white, purple and red). Edible floral garnishes – the flowers of borage, garlic chives, nasturtium, pansy, anise-hyssop, chrysanthemum, fennel or marigold – help to enliven the appearance.