Mesclun—that mix of, usually, lettuce, chard, mustard, arugula, and other greens—is one of the easiest crops to grow at home, and you can even create your own seed blends to customize the flavor. And when you grow your own, it costs just pennies per serving.
It’s delicious both raw and cooked, and does best in cool weather.
Scatter seeds so they’re about 1/2 inch apart in a container, that’s at least a foot wide and half as deep, filled with well-draining potting soil.
Cover seeds with ¼ inch of soil, and sprinkle lightly with water to avoid disturbing seeds.
Set in a sunny spot.
Water to keep soil moist.
Snip mesclun with shears when leaves reach 4 to 6 inches tall, about 30 to 40 days after planting. (For best flavor, do this just before eating.)
When clipping, leave 1 to 2 inches of the plants in the ground so that they regrow for another harvest.
Feed with an organic fertilizer after shearing.
And in 6 weeks or so, when you’re ready to harvest, use mesclun in any recipe where you’d use a mix of baby lettuces from the store.
Baked Goat Cheese with Spring Lettuce Salad
Many credit Alice Waters with introducing America to a salad of tender young greens, or mesclun, in the early 1970s. Here’s how to make Chez Panisse restaurant’s classic recipe at home.
At Vietnamese sub shops around the West, you can get sandwiches called bánh mì made in the style of different regions in Vietnam. In this recipe, from the city of Hoi An, crisp salad greens, fragrant basil, and juicy cucumbers top warm pork cooked with sweet spices.