When mache is ready to pick in January it is a cause for celebration. This little plant is tender, with a smooth texture and has a long season to harvest. We like the tender young plants and use them as we thin. Later we pick the larger leaves until mid spring. The first salad we make is this traditional salad of mache, beets and lightly toasted walnuts.
Fresh mache, 2 cups, rinsed
Beets, roasted and sliced (4)
Walnuts, lightly toasted (10)
1/2 teaspoon sugar, optional
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
Butter lettuce or radicchio
Build your salad on a small platter or individual plates. Layer with lettuce, radicchio or other tender greens. Slip skins from beets before slicing. I like to slice my beets in half and then cut vertically but if you are using a cylindra beet slice in rounds. Roast beets or cook in a pressure cooker. See below:
Toast walnut halves in a small skillet set low or in a 375 degree oven for five minutes. Sprinkle with a little sugar when they are toasted. As the nuts cool break these halves not 2-3 pieces. Place mache leaves over your beets and then
sprinkle with nuts. I sometimes toss a few green onion slices or chives over the
top, some people like to add a few pieces of goat cheese or feta. Drizzle with a
touch of olive oil and a bit of salt. It is a classic French salad and I urge you to try this, it’s like the first bite of spring.
Pressure cooking beets. Add a perforated steamer and enough water to just come to the edge. This is fast but inconsistent and I’ve needed to cook these beets anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes depending on size and maturity. So far they come out like roasted beets with their juices retained and tender. I usually cook enough for another salad as cooked beets last several days when refrigerated.