Mâche: The Best of the Bunch
Once exclusive to European markets and upscale restaurants, this heirloom variety of lamb's lettuce, marketed under its French name of mâche, is now being grown commercially in California's Salinas Valley. High in vitamins and antioxidants, the delicate rosettes of tender round leaves have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor and buttery texture unlike any other salad green. Lightly dressed with Fresh Lemon Vinaigrette (see recipe below) and paper-thin slivers of Parmesan cheese, it received our Test Kitchens' highest rating.
Available pre-washed in 4-ounce packages, mâche is somewhat pricier than other ready-to-eat specialty salads, but well worth the indulgence. One 3-ounce serving has no fat and only 20 calories, but it tips the nutritional scales with 2 grams of protein and fiber, 100% of the daily requirement of vitamin A, 50% of vitamin C, 20% of iron, and 8% of calcium. It even has more potassium than bananas. If your local grocer doesn't already carry mâche, ask the manager to order it for you. For additional recipes and information, visit www.epicroots.com.
Whip up a frothy topping for cappuccinos and lattés with this battery-powered BonJour Caffé Froth Turbo ($14.99). BonJour offers a variety of French coffee presses, stove-top espresso makers, and creative culinary products. To locate a retailer in your area, visit www.bonjourproducts.com.
WINTER PRODUCE RECIPES
- Balsamic Strawberry Salsa
- Honeyed Pork Tenderloin With Avocado-Peach Salsa
- Macadamia-and-Mango Chicken
- Mandarin Salad Oriental
- Winter Fruit-and-Cucumber Salad
- Coastal Shrimp Salad
- Baby Blue Salad
- Almond-Citrus Salad
- Avocado Citrus Salad
- Cranberry-Jalapeño Salsa
- Broccoli and Chicken Salad
- Peppered Tuna with Crowder Peas
- Warm Goat Cheese Salad
Five-a-Day Fruits and Vegetables
Fresh salsas and main-dish salads are a terrific way to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, even during the winter months. We usually think of heartier fare in January, such as collards simmered with the restorative powers of pork-rich pot liquor. Not that we're willing to forego such cold-weather comforts, but there is a bigger bounty of produce out there.
Winter is peak season for citrus fruits, and fresh oranges and grapefruit play a starring role in many of our top-rated salads. Try replacing canned Mandarin oranges with fresh varieties such as tangerines or clementines. Chilean stone fruits such as peaches, plums, and nectarines will be arriving soon, and although they lack the memorable flavor of our Southern peaches and nectarines, they're quite good in salsa.
Fresh Lemon Vinaigrette
Whisk together 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice; 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard; 1 large garlic clove, pressed; 1/4 teaspoon salt; and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Gradually add 1/2 cup olive oil in a steady stream, whisking until blended. Store in refrigerator for up to one week; bring to room temperature, and whisk before serving. Makes about 3/4 cup.
Tips and Tidbits
- Fresh cranberries won't be around for long after the first of the year, but when sealed in airtight containers, they will keep for up to 12 months in the freezer. For optimum flavor and texture, add them to recipes while still frozen. Like raspberries, the red plant pigments in cranberries can turn blue when mixed with alkaline ingredients such as baking soda. So when using them in muffins or quick breads, toss them with a sprinkling of fresh lemon juice to prevent discoloration.
- OSO onions, grown in the rich volcanic soil of South America, have a crunchy sweetness that rivals Vidalias. They're available in supermarkets from January through March. Look for firm, plump onions with shiny skin and a delicate aroma. A high sugar content makes them perfect for caramelizing. To make Caramelized Onions: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 6 large sweet onions, coarsely chopped, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Cook, stirring often, 25 to 30 minutes or until onions are a deep golden brown. Cool and store in an airtight container; chill up to one week, or, if desired, freeze up to 2 months. Makes about 3 cups.