Mesclun are salad greens that you can cultivate outdoors in the garden or indoors in a container. They are a mix of salad greens which are also available from the wild and are made up of different kinds of leaf and loose-headed lettuce.
Mesclun salad originates from Provencal France and is a mix of chervil, arugula, lettuce and endive and may include greens such as mustards, cresses and parsley. The salad is a burst of every taste and texture possible, ranging from bitter, tangy, silky, sweet and crunchy.
When growing Mesclun salad, take into account your own palette. You can combine familiar types of leaf lettuce that you like, along with greens such as purslane, mizuna, chervil and mache. If you prefer a hotter peppery taste, add in cresses, red kale, Asian mustards, red and green chicories, endive or arugula.
Here are some types of salad greens you can grow and some description about the variety:
Arugula (Eruca vesicaria ssp. Sativa)
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Image credit: EraPhernalia Vintage/Flickr
Endive and escarole (Cichorium endivia)
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Belgian endive or French endive
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Image credit: Omid Tavallai/Flickr
Image credit: Olga Nohra/Flickr
How to Grow Mesclun Salad in a Container
Make sure that you have a container that has adequate drainage holes. Fill in potting soil that you can purchase from a gardening store or nursery and add in one tablespoon of slow-release organic fertilizer.
Sprinkle the seeds of the lettuces of your choice, such as chicory, arugula and endive over the top of the soil. Make sure that the seeds are about 1 inch apart (approximate, you don\’t need to be too accurate).
Then cover the seeds with a quarter inch of potting soil.
Water the seeds well. Make sure that you keep the soil moist (but not wet) until the seeds sprout. These vegetables do not require thinning as thick growth helps retain moisture and stops weeds from growing.
Your container should be covered with green plants within weeks.
Harvest the outer leaves of the salad greens, leaving the inner leaves to develop, or wait to harvest the entire plant by snipping the heads of plant at soil level. This creates more room for any nearby heads which will continue to grow new leaves.
Preparing Mesclun Salad
Because Mesclun is about enjoying the various textures and taste of the greens itself, you want a recipe that will not overwhelm these tastes. Mesclun salad is a foundation you can work on to build a salad that provides sweet and savory flavors. You can do this by adding mandarin oranges and crumbled cheese.
Mandarin oranges are available readily canned (though fresh is always a better option but only if available) and salty, naturally crumbled cheese such as Feta, Gorgonzola or Blue Cheese make a great garnish which lends a savory flavor to the salad.
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 12 oz of mesclun salad
- 6 oz of mandarin oranges (canned or fresh)
- 4 oz crumbled cheese of choice
- toasted nuts (walnuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds)
Preparing the Salad
- Wash the greens in cold water and place them in a large bowl.
- Arrange the oranges slices on top. Sprinkle some juice (from the can) over the mesclun) or squeeze half a mandarin orange over it.
- Crumble some cheese over the oranges and mesclun
- Sprinkle a small amount of toasted nuts to provide a light crunch to the salad.
Growing Mesclun: http://www.hgtv.com/landscaping/growing-mesclun/index.html
Grow Your Own Spring Salad Mix: http://www.gardenguides.com/how-to/tipstechniques/vegetables/salad.asp
Hamilton, George W. “Mesclun, A Blend of Salad Greens”. Network Publications Inc. 1999.
Lawton, Barbara Perry. “Year of the Mesclun”. National Garden Bureau, Inc. 1998.
Ogden, Ellen & Shepherd. “The Cook\’s Garden”. 1999.
Rindels, Sherry. “1997 – Year of the Mesclun”. Horticulture and Home Pest News. Iowa State University. 1997.
Grow Your Own Salad Greens: