What is Nüsslisalat, you ask? It’s a tender green, usually grown in the fall in Switzerland and Germany, a type of corn salad. But don’t worry – you can substitute romaine lettuce and spinach and get to enjoy this simple but deliciously fresh, light, green salad any time, with its piquant dressing and bits of rich, sunshiny egg. (Skip to recipe)
It’s sweater weather!
I love this time of year. There’s a chill in the air that brings a feeling of excitement, of anticipation. We’ve worked so hard in the summer, keeping on top of the yard and garden. It’s rewarding work, but back-breaking, and we need a rest. Once we get the garden harvested, we can start to take life a bit easier. We’ve got a bit of work left to do. Root vegetables are all still in the ground and everything aboveground is looking pretty straggly.
Yet some people are still harvesting greens. This week my aunt from BC was visiting my mom (who recently moved to a townhome only ten minutes away from us). My friend, Ronaye, called and asked if I wanted to come and pick up some garlic and fresh salad from her garden.
Fresh salad? At this time of year? What was she talking about?
Well, she is Swiss and always brings Nüsslisalat seeds (a type of corn salad) with her from Switzerland. This salad green, also called Feldsalat, Wintersalat, Ackersalat, Vogersalat, or Rapunzel (as in the fairy tale) is known as a winter salad in Germany and Switzerland, withstanding temperatures as low as -15°C, and being harvested throughout the winter. Here in our harsh winter climate, it needs to be grown as a fall lettuce. Ronaye plants the seeds in mid-summer, and in the fall she harvests a bounty of these tender little bundles of green.
Nüsslisalat first grew wild at the edges of fields and meadows, but is now cultivated as a delicious, hardy salad green. To serve it, keep the little rosettes of leaves intact. Rinse well in several changes of clean water to remove any clinging soil, then dress it lightly with a robust vinaigrette, or use it in omelets or other dishes like you would use fresh spinach.
She strews them thickly in a green carpet.
And today she shared them with us. So we piled in the car and headed over.
My mom and friend got right down to the picking while my aunt and I wandered around her garden, admiring its bounty on this beautiful fall day.
After our garden harvest, my friend washed up a huge bowl of the tender greens, mixed them with a little chopped egg and a zingy, creamy dressing, served alongside moist chunks of grilled chicken. We feasted like the luckiest of kings for our lunch. It was such a simple meal, but it nourished with rich fulfillment. Minutes before, those delectable greens had just been absorbing minerals from the soil and energy from the sun, and now they gave them up to us.
The Swiss dressing for this salad is robust and tart – the perfect foil for these mineral-rich little bundles of green and the pops of sunshiny egg.
But don’t despair if you haven’t got a secret stash of Nüsslisalat – replace them with baby spinach, or romaine lettuce, or any other mix of rich, hearty greens. A handful of arugula would go well here, too.
The woods are calling and so are the paths. Drifts of yellow leaves carpet the ground and fill the air with a rich muskiness. I’m gonna have a quick salad and head back outside.
Come join me for a walk?
* * * * *
Kitchen Frau Notes: I like to make up a double batch of this dressing. It keeps for two to three weeks in the fridge and is so handy to have for tossing on any type of greens for a quick salad.
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- ¼ cup (60ml) white wine vinegar
- ½ cup mild-flavoured oil (like avocado oil)
- 1 small clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
- 4 large handfuls (10 to 12 cups) of Nüsslisalat/corn salad, well washed, or a combination of baby spinach and torn romaine salad
- 4 hardboiled eggs, peeled
- 2 green onions/scallions
- ~½ cup of Creamy Dressing, recipe follows
Make the Dressing: In a jar or bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with a small amount of the vinegar until smooth. Gradually add the remaining vinegar and keep whisking until it is smoothly mixed in. Add the oil. Press or grate the garlic clove on a microplane grater and add it to the dressing. Add the mustard, salt, and pepper. Seal the jar and shake until creamy or whisk until creamy. Makes a generous ¾ cup(200ml) – more than you’ll need for the salad. Save it to dress salad greens another day.
Make the salad: If using Nüsslisalat, leave the little rosettes of greens whole. If using spinach and romaine, tear them into bite-sized pieces. Coarsely chop the hard-boiled eggs and thinly slice the green onions.
In a large bowl, combine the salad greens, chopped hard-boiled eggs, and green onions. Add enough dressing to just coat all the greens lightly, and toss the salad well. This should take about ½ cup (120ml) of dressing or a little less.
Serves 4 generously, or 6 as a side salad.
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