Mesclun, or mesclun greens, refers to a mixture of young lettuces. It’s the basic mix of greens in your local salad bar, on a menu at a restaurant, and in the produce aisle at the grocery store. The percentage of each leaf varies based on whoever has created the blend, but it’s always composed of the most tender leaves.
Mesclun is a mix of greens that are still young. In addition to lettuce, it might have things like spinach, savoury chicory, and sometimes even edible flowers. Many cultures have a tradition of eating this mixture, especially in the spring, when the new growth after a long, dark winter can be very refreshing.
What is Mesclun?
The word mesclun comes from the Portuguese verb muscular, which means to mix well. In this case, it means tender leafy greens like arugula, endive, chervil, young red and green lettuces, baby spinach, mustard greens, frisée, mizuna, young Swiss chard, radicchio, and sorrel.
You can also use young collard greens, tatsoi, dandelion greens, and garden cress. Mesclun is just a combination of these four types of greens. The first record of this salad mix was made in Nice, France, in the late 1970s. There, French farmers brought green mixtures to sell at the market. These mixes were the first mesclun and were the basis for the kinds that come in bags.
Mesclun is a mix of greens that are still young. In addition to lettuce, it might have things like spinach, savoury chicory, and sometimes even edible flowers. Many cultures have a tradition of eating this mixture, especially in the spring, when the new growth after a long, dark winter can be very refreshing. Mesclun can be found in the produce section of many stores, and it can also be grown at home. By growing it at home, you can choose which plants go into the mix and make sure it tastes how you want it to.
Endive, chicory, frisee, dandelion greens, lettuce, spinach, sorrel, chard, mustard, arugula, radicchio, chervil, and many more types of greens can be used in mesclun. Some mixes also have flowers that you can eat, and these flowers can be anything from spicy nasturtiums to soft rose petals. This dish is not only tasty and interesting, but it is also healthy, and it has a lot of different minerals and vitamins that are good for you. Because of this, mixes of young greens have likely always been popular, especially among pregnant women.
Philippe Tiranty and Paul Gordeaux got together with many friends at the Cochon d’Or (a famous restaurant in La Villette) on July 10, 1924. They decided to start the foyer des Amitiés noises and call it Lou Mesclun. This reminds us of this phrase meant “real living together” to these comics and humanists.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says that “mesclun” was first used in 1976 to describe a mix of young salad greens.
It comes from the Provencal dialect and the verb muscular, which means “to mix thoroughly.” Its literal meaning is “mixture.” Local legend says that mesclun came from the farmers around Nice, bringing their special mix of young greens to the farmers’ markets. One of the most typical and true versions was made with baby dandelion, lettuce, and a rocket (arugula).
Alice Waters, a famous chef, says, “In Provence, there is a lot of mescluns, a mix of the first tender young leaves to grow in the garden. Mesclun can be an amazing mix of lettuces, including rocket, similar to the Italian arugula (arugula), chervil, mache or lamb’s lettuce, and oak leaf. Sometimes, baby curly endive (chicory) or young dandelion greens are added to the mix. This depends on what the grower wants and what else might grow in the spot where mesclun grows.”
What is the Provenance of Mesclun?
Mesclun came from France, where farmers would sell their prized mixes of baby greens at farmer’s markets. Mesclun is a mix of greens that Alice Waters liked so much that she brought a salad to Chez Panisse, which helped make salad popular in the US. Alice brought back lettuce seeds from France to make the mesclun salads she had in Provence but couldn’t find in the US. She planted all of her backyards with lettuces. She put the mesclun salad on the menu at Chez Panisse and spread the French idea that every meal should include a salad.
Different kinds of mixed greens are used in foods all over the world. For instance, “misticanza” in Italian is the same as “mesclun.” In Asia, baby tatsoi, bok choy, and mizuna are paired with bok choy and mizuna.
How to Use Mesclun?
A salad is the best way to use mesclun. Does the mix include tatsoi, baby romaine, red lettuce, and spicy mustard? Think about playing with flavours that go well with it, like chopped bacon with blue cheese, olives, sweet red peppers, and a sprinkle of lemon zest. Mesclun is also great for dressing up a dish or cleaning your palate. You can put a handful on a burger instead of lettuce to make it more colourful and healthy, or you can put a piece of grilled salmon on a bed of mesclun to make it taste better.
4 Ways to Use Mesclun in Cooking
Mesclun can be used for more than just salads; it can add crunch, flavour, vitamins, and nutrients to many dishes.
Try incorporating mesclun into your meal plan in the following four ways:
- Create a bed of mesclun greens for eggs or an entrée of poultry or fish.
- Toss mild, tender greens into a smoothie.
- Kick up a sandwich with a layer of mesclun.
- Add wilted greens to a bowl of lentils or rice.
What does Mesclun Taste Like?
Mesclun will taste different based on what greens are used to make it. Try different kinds of lettuce to find your favourite mix, or buy a bag of mixed lettuce at your local grocery store. Talk to a local farmers’ market vendor to find out which mesclun mix would be best for your taste or menu.
Mustard greens add zing and heat, endive gives a light bitterness and tender crunch, frilly frisée adds a different leaf texture and a light bitter green note, and tender sorrel adds lemon notes. Use the peppery taste of arugula and the herbal flavour of chervil to make your perfect blend.
The flavour is mild because there are so many kinds of leaf or Bibb lettuce. Mustard greens are known for their sharp taste. Bitter and sour tastes come from the radicchio, escarole, mizuna, and curly endive. The peppery and spicy accents come from arugula or watercress.
Where to Buy Mesclun?
Almost every grocery store has lettuce mixes, even if they don’t always call them “mesclun.” Mesclun is a type of green that looks like a mix of leaves. The best place to get a mesclun mix is at a farmer’s market, where you can choose your mix of greens. This will also help you learn more about the differences between each type since vendors can give you samples and talk about how they taste.
Lettuce and many other greens in mesclun mix grow best in cool weather. By making shade, you can extend the growing season in places where summers are hot. To do this, you can either plant where a tree or building will shade the plants in the afternoon or use a shade cloth.
When choosing mesclun at a store or farmers’ market, look for crisp, healthy leaves that aren’t slimy or discoloured, and try to shake the basket a bit to ensure you get a good mix. A good store will also have a list of the included greens, so you can get an idea of the tastes and textures to expect. You can also buy seeds for the greens you want and plant them in a bed or window box. As you need them, you can pick the young, tender leaves. Add herbs like thyme and oregano to the mix to make it taste better.
Keep all leafy greens in a container with a wet paper towel or natural cloth to keep them from drying out. Don’t wash it before use because that can make it go not nice faster. If the mesclun you buy is already bagged and washed, keep it in the fridge in the bag it came in until you are ready to use it. Some types will last up to a week, but most can be made in a few days.
What are the Characteristics of Mesclun?
Mesclun can be made from wild and cultivated plants with different tastes, colours, and textures. The greens that go into mesclun mixes all have one thing in common: their leaves are tender and usually the first to sprout. Herbs are added to greens to make them taste better. Additives like sorrel, fennel, and chives are often used. Gardeners can buy seeds that have already been mixed to make mesclun blends that are sour, sweet, or spicy. Home cooks can make mesclun mixes with the flavours they want.
- A mix containing arugula and watercress, for example, will lead to a peppery taste.
- Add collard greens for a tangy flavour.
- Curly endives, romaine, and chicory can be used to attain a bitter taste.
- For a more mild blend, use leaf lettuces such as Bibb or Boston, which are sweet.
- To attain a piquant flavour, add mizuna or mustard greens.
- Red chard will add an element of salt, and rainbow chard can add colour to your mesclun blend.
Mesclun is a mix of small, young, different salad greens from Provence, France. The traditional mix includes chervil, arugula, leafy lettuces, and endive. The term “mesclun” may also refer to a mix that includes some or all of these four, as well as baby spinach, collard greens, Swiss chard (silver beet), mustard greens, dandelion greens, frisée, mizuna, mache (lamb’s lettuce), radicchio, sorrel, or other.
Mesclun is a mix of tender salad greens and herbs from the Provençal language. It comes from the French word “mixer,” which means “to mix.” A mesclun mix usually has arugula, chervil, oak leaf, and mache. It can also be made with various greens, like dandelion greens, frisée, endive, baby spinach, collard greens, mustard greens, radicchio, kale, and more. “Spring mix” is the name of a store brand of mesclun mix.