The first time I encountered this plant it was introduced to me as corn salad. I gotta say, I hate the name corn salad. Please call it mâche. It sounds less, er, lazy.
I have been amazed to see how popular mâche has been getting. You can purchase bags of mâche much like baby spinach in grocery stores like Trader Joes. That is, if you want to deprive yourself of the joy of growing it yourself. I love growing this, and of course, as with all things home grown, the diversity of varieties available to you are greater once you start growing your own. Also, home-grown mâche is bound to be fresher and more nutritious than factory farmed mâche that have been traveling in bags for who knows how long.
Mâche is amazingly cold hardy. Start planting out from seed in October in full to part sun. Too much shade makes plants lanky but some shade will help plants last a little longer. If it gets hot in the spring plants will bolt.
Plant in average garden soil and feed occasionally with fish emulsion, kelp and/or compost tea. This is not a picky plant. The biggest challenge is that when temperatures get into the mid 80s plants will sometimes want to bolt. But that said, you won’t have to worry about frost. Mâche can take pretty much any cold Tucson will throw at it.
The so-called large-seeded varieties are more heat resistent than the small-seeded varieties. But the small-seeded types are more tasty. So experiment. In the US there are not as many varieties available as there are in Europe. Hopefully this will change sometime soon. Botanical Interests is a cool seed company I haven’t mentioned yet, and they have the large-seeded variety. Gourmet Seeds has the d’Olanda variety which is a Dutch variety with large leaves.
Plants are most delicious raw. Try mixing mâche with slivers of red beets and light dressing. Mâche has a nice, mild nutty flavor and is super nutritious, especially rich in iron, vitamin C, vitamin A and calcium.
This recipe looks pretty amazing: