This is my favorite hardy green as it’s the first to pop up in the spring here in the Pacific Northwest. If you don’t know what corn mache (Valerianella locusta) is, Google it and you’ll find some people call it corn mache choux, mouse ears, or corn salad. It’s a super fancy French green, used in top restaurants, and yet it grows like crazy in my garden, self-seeding every year.
I just love the stuff: as a substitute for baby spinach, in salads, in stir-fry, and as a bed of greens beneath any kind of organic meat we have for dinner. It has a creamy, nutty, slightly floral taste, but is very mild, so putting something flavorful on it works well as it compliments strong flavorings.
We throw it in smoothies every morning this time of year. And I give it away to happy neighbors in the spring, who are hungry for anything green and fresh. Plant yourself a bed of corn mache, let a few go to seed, and next year you’ll thank yourself for the effort as this lovely little veggie, like arugula and jerusalem artichokes, will be come a perennial springtime friend.
It takes a little extra effort to wash as grit can get down inside. I just soak the little florets in a big bowl of water and submerge them before pulling them out. Seems to work just fine!