Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lamb's Lettuce & Dried Cranberries Salad

... One day, the woman stood at the window and looked down into the witch's garden. She saw a bed filled with the most beautiful rapunzel, and it looked so fresh and green that she craved it; she had the most burning desire to eat of it. Her desire increased every day, but since she knew that she could not have any, she grew pale and ill.
This greatly alarmed her husband, who asked her 'what ails you, dear wife?'
'Oh', she replied, 'if I cannot eat some of the rapunzel from that garden, I must surely die.'...

- from Rapunzel, collected in the Grimm's Fairy Tales

When I came across the information that the word 'rapunzel' is used for the plant 'lamb's lettuce' and the passage from this version of the tale, I started to smile around happily. I was happy because I came to realise that all those years, I'd been reading, telling and listening to this fairy tale without knowing what the name 'Rapunzel' actually means or why the name is picked for the main character. I had simply skipped this version of the fairy tale.

This unexpected realisation is the main source of my happiness today and it naturally made me search for the lamb's lettuce on the Net and soon I ended up with a fact file about the plant. You'll find it quite helpful if you haven't heard of this wonderful vegetable before.

  • It's a member of the valerian family.
  • 'Rapunzel' is one of the German terms for this plant.
  • Known also as corn salad, fetticus, feldsalat, nut lettuce and mâche in French.
  • It has smooth, spoon-shaped, dark green leaves arranged in rosettes. 
  • It has a tangy and nutty flavour.
  • It only grows once a year and then dies off. 
  • It could be found growing wild among the crops or in meadows.
  • It is prized as one of few fresh vegetables available in the winter and early spring.
  • It is very low in calories.
  • It has three times as much vitamin C as lettuce, plenty of vitamins E, B6 and B9 (folic acid), potassium, beta carotene, and more iron than any other leafy green vegetable except parsley.
  • It is hard to find outside Europe.
  • It is rather pricey because it has to be hand-picked.
  • It is easy to grow and window boxes are enough to grow it.
  • The plant is delicate and should be eaten as soon as possible.
  • It can be very sandy. Wash it carefully.
  • It is used like spinach in omelettes and soups, or added to sandwiches, lamb's lettuce really comes into its own as a salad.
  • Two handfuls of it makes an adult portion. 

Lamb's Lettuce & Dried Cranberries Salad

lamb's lettuce (two handfuls of it per adult)
olive oil 
chopped garlic
dried cranberries


1. Rinse and pick over the lamb's lettuce, separating the leaves. Leave them to drain or use a salad spinner.
2. In a small bowl mix the yogurt, oil, salt and garlic beating them together.
3. Place the lamb's lettuce in a big bowl and add in the cranberries.
4. Season the lamb's lettuce with the yogurt sauce.
5. Sprinkle with more cranberries before you serve.

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