Salad Genetics

I replanted our salad garden terrace in January and it got a fairly slow start due to some chilly, rainy weather.  I’m not super finicky about putting in the greens seeds.  They are so small that I just divide the nicely prepped planters into sections, sprinkle over a few pinches of seeds, and lightly ruffle them through the soil.  I figure I can always rearrange them later when they’ve gotten established.  My concern is always that I will weed out my seedlings before I recognize what they are, so I put in some markers.

Strangely, the markers immediately started getting dislodged and scattered around the garden.  I would come home from work and find two or three of them plucked up and lying in the wrong section.  One of them went missing entirely for about two weeks until I found it slightly buried.  In my mind, I was blaming all sorts of unseen nemeses, mostly focused around our maid and some workers who had been repairing the terrace door.  I wondered, Why, why would they tamper with my markers?

Then, I remembered the particularly fat dove I had chased off several times for fear he was eating my seeds.  It must have been the dove that had made a little game with the markers.  I put them back where I recalled they should go, but following some rain and near 70 degree temperatures last weekend, all of the seedlings popped out with their familial characteristics and I realized I needn’t have worried about recognizing them.  They look exactly like their families.  Here are some family portraits:

Bok Choy 2
Poor little bok choy, you’ll go through life with your father’s big, round ears.
Swiss Chard 2
The Swiss chard kids. You can hardly tell one from another, all tangled together like a pack of puppies.
Curled Kale 2
Pretty little curled kale has her sister’s hair.
Freckles Lettuce
Lettuce has her mama’s freckles.

These greens are still a couple of weeks away from eating, but we have some perfect mache or lamb’s tongue lettuce from the local farms.  Getting a little dreamy about our planned spring break trip to Sicily, I made this dish from the cookbook Love Italy by Guy Grossi.

Lamb and Salad

Costoletta di agnello in crosta

Herb-crusted lamb cutlets with mache and mint salad

  • 12 lamb cutlets, French-trimmed if possible, excess fat and sinew removed
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped sage
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped thyme
  • 1 tbsp grated parmesan
  • 200g dried breadcrumbs
  • Sea sale and cracked black pepper
  • 100g plain flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 200ml olive oil

Mache and Mint Salad

  • 100g fresh shelled peas
  • 100g mache leaves (lamb’s tongue lettuce)
  • 20 mint leaves
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 50g marinated goat’s cheese or feta
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper

1.  Lightly beat the lamb cutlets until they are about 5mm thick.

2.  Combine the herbs, parmesan, and breadcrumbs in a bowl and mix well.  Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.  Place the flour in a shallow bowl and the eggs in another.  Lightly flour a cutlet, shaking off any excess, then dip it into the beaten egg.  Place the cutlet in the herb and crumb mix, pressing the crumbs onto the meat to coat completely.  Repeat with the remaining cutlets.

3.  Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and add the cutlets.  Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden brown.  Drain on paper towel.

4.  Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil and add the peas.  Simmer for about 1-2 minutes, then drain immediately and refresh in cold water.  When cool, drain the peas again and place in a large bowl with the mache and mint leaves.

5.  Make a dressing by whisking together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and shallot.  Pour over the leaves and mix well.  Crumble in the goat’s cheese or feta and check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.

6.  Serve the herb-crusted lamb cutlets with the mache and mint salad alongside.

2 thoughts on “Salad Genetics

  1. How delightful! Thank you.

    On Saturday, February 22, 2014, bergamot orange wrote: > meaningfromprint posted: “I replanted our salad garden terrace in January and it got a fairly slow start due to some chilly, rainy weather. I’m not super finicky about putting in the greens seeds. They are so small that I just divide the nicely prepped planters into sections, sp” >

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