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Mâche Salad with Fennel and Seckel Pears

Posted Dec 16 2009 4:53pm

I rarely use bottled salad dressing.  Sure, I have two bottles hanging out in my fridge, jammed in the corner behind the stuff I actually use, untouched.  The truth is, I prefer to make my own salad dressings, because I easily tire of the same tastes over and over again.  So I make something different every week.

Here, I put together a salad made with mâche, which is also known as Lamb’s lettuce or corn lettuce.  It’s essentially an herb, and grows wildly in corn fields.  It’s also a tasty green grazed on by lambs (hence the alternate names).  One and a half cups of it contains only 30 calories.  It also satisfies more than your daily needs for vitamin C, and also contains vitamins A, iron, and calcium.

Mâche was something I first had in France (advertisements were everywhere for this green; even on billboards in the subway system!) and always thought it was a European thing that I would never have again.  Imagine my surprise when I saw organic mâche in my grocery store, and the same price as the other organic greens!  I thought it would pair perfectly with some sliced fennel bulb, Seckel pears, and bits of dried cranberry.  I used the fennel fronds (waste not, want not!) and whisked together a light vinaigrette that was refreshing and wonderfully complemented the anise flavor of the fennel, sweetness of the pears, mildness of the mâche, and tartness of the cranberries.  Ah, I was transported back to Lyon with this very sophisticated salad.

Here’s what mâche lettuce looks like.  Super dainty, so make a light vinaigrette with not too much oil.

Mâche Salad with Fennel and Seckel Pears

makes 1/4 cup dressing, serves 2 people

for the salad:

3 cups Mâche, or Lamb’s lettuce

1/2 fennel bulb, sliced thinly

1 Seckel pear, sliced thinly

2 Tablespoons sweetened dried cranberries

for the dressing:

1 Tbsp finely chopped fennel fronds (looks like dill)

1 tsp finely chopped shallots

1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tsp white wine vinegar

1/4 tsp mustard

1/2 tsp honey

1 Tbsp canola oil

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1.  Whisk together all the ingredients, except the oils, in a small bowl.  Slowly pour in the oils while whisking the dressing until emulsified.  Pour over salad and serve.

What’s your fave salad ingredient?

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