Want to perk up your usual (boring?) green salad? Start using mesclun as a base. Mesclun is a traditional salad mix that originated in France. It typically contains a combination of tender and delicious young greens, such as baby spinach, arugula, frisée, dandelion, endive, radicchio, mizuna, mâche, sorrel, and/or others. For this reason, mesclun offers a delicious variety of different tastes and textures. You can top a mesclun salad with just about anything. Try it with grilled chicken or shrimp, or with chickpeas, white beans, or other legumes. Prepackaged mesclun greens tend to be expensive, so if you want to cut costs, consider mixing and matching your own selection of different greens. A good supermarket produce department (or a farmers’ market) will have everything you need.
Follow this step-by-step guide to prepare your own mesclun:
- Gather the different greens (such as those mentioned above) and don’t hesitate to add herbs like basil, parsley, chives, cilantro, tarragon, or mint to enhance the salad.
- Keep salad greens and herbs fresh (if not using immediately) by making sure they’re as dry as possible, and then wrapping them in paper towels and placing them in resealable plastic bags that are perforated a few times to allow air to circulate.
- Just before you’re ready to serve the salad, roughly tear any larger greens, if necessary, into bite-sized pieces; chop any herbs you’ve decided to include.
- Make a South Beach Diet–friendly dressing. Mesclun is a combination of delicate greens, so light dressing is essential. We recommend a lemon or lime vinaigrette that uses fresh citrus juice and extra-virgin olive oil or simply the freshly squeezed juice itself. A light sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper and sea salt is a plus. Be sure to toss the greens with the dressing just before serving.