Mâche is unforgettable. I call it the princess of all leafy greens.
The tiny lettuce, when picked young, looks like a rosette, no bigger than a small daisy. Also known as corn salad, field salad or lamb’s lettuce, mâche thrives in cool weather and, contrary to its delicate features, is a pretty hardy little plant. It’s also packed with many nutrients.
But I will confess that’s not the reason I love mâche. What truly enchants me is its subtle and succulent flavor, which makes for the most elegant salads and garnishes.
In today’s recipe, I serve the mâche with super-thin slices of Asian pear, and toss the tender greens with a shallot and truffle vinaigrette. The sweetness of the petite lettuces harmonizes beautifully with the aromatic pears and the more pungent vinaigrette.
Wine pairing: Westerly Vineyards, Viognier 2006
Mâche with Asian Pears, Hazelnuts and Truffle Vinaigrette
active time: 20 min
For the vinaigrette
- 1 tablespoon minced shallots
- 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons white truffle oil
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the salad
- 1 1/2 Asian pears
- 5 oz (142gr) baby mâche – rinsed and spun dry
- 1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts – coarsely crushed (use mortar and pestle)
- Step 1: In a small bowl, whisk shallots, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper to taste until well blended and set aside.
- Step 2: Cut Asian pears in half crosswise and core. Using a mandoline, cut each half crosswise in 20, 1/16” (1.6mm) slices.
- Step 3: Place five pear slices in the center of each plate, overlapping them and arranging them in a long row. Place the greens in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with two-thirds of the vinaigrette and toss until all the leaves are well coated, being careful not to break them. Arrange the greens on top of the pear slices. Sprinkle with the hazelnuts and drizzle with the balance of the vinaigrette. Finish with ground pepper to taste and serve.
- Cook’s note: To roast the hazelnuts – Preheat oven to 325ºF (163ºC). Place hazelnuts on a jellyroll pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the skins are dark and have split and the nuts are golden. Shake pan once or twice during the baking to ensure even roasting. (Do not brown the nuts or they will lose their flavor.) Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. Once cooled, rub the nuts between your fingers or with a lint-free, clean kitchen towel to remove the skin. Store nuts in airtight container for up to 1 month.
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Disclaimer: As always, my point of view is my own. I do not accept samples, and have no commercial relationship with any product, food or wine company.