The wild lambs lettuce, otherwise known as “Mâche sauvage”, is in season, and it could well be lurking in your garden!
Lamb’s lettuce is a member of the honeysuckle family, and it is packed with nutrients. It has three times the vitamin C than its green lettuce-y counterparts, and it’s also full of vitamin B and minerals like copper, potassium, and iron.
It commonly grows as a weed in many places even though it is also widely cultivated in France. You can find it in your garden, on waste ground, on hedge banks, sand dunes and on arable land used for growing other crops but usually in fairly dry soil. It will self-seed itself and it springs up all over the place, even in cracks in a pavement and in walls.
It is a small annual plant that reaches a maximum of some 40cm and it bears really tiny pale lilac flowers. Lambs lettuce produces a rosette of spoon-shaped leaves and a short flowering stalk grows from this, usually producing flowers in spring. It is said that its name Lamb’s Lettuce comes from a similarity between the shape of its leaves with those of a lamb.
It is earthy, sweet, slightly nutty, and the tiniest bit astringent, which makes it a great compliment to many dishes. Throw it into any salad with other greens, or make it the star of the show with a simple dressing. Balsamic vinegar is a good partner.
When you pick it, pinch off the roots, and give it a thorough wash. If you’re not eating it immediately, put it in a shallow bowl of cold water to keep it fresh.