Mesclun, and Other Green and Leafy Wonders
My husband has promised never to take
me to live in a land where they don't have arugula.
Luckily this miraculous peppery green leaf
is available in many places in and around Geneva and I'm discovering
new sources all the time. Enlightened self interest dictates
that I should share those sources with you. The greater the
demand, the more abundant the supply.
Arugula, also called Rocket or Rocket Cress
in English, Rucola in Italian and Roquette in French, has
been known to man since Roman times. It burst onto the U.S.
culinary scene in a big way during the mid 1980s, and became
(sadly) the brunt of many anti-Yuppie jokes. Happily signs
are that Arugula is now being accorded a seriousness in keeping
with its regal taste.
Arugula is also one of the standard ingredients
of the Provencal salad mixture known as "Mesclun."
Most market stands feature something called Mesclun, but each
mix is different, because each farmer composes a unique version
based on his own preferred palette of greens. One of the nicest
mixes is available at the Rive market from the Vuarniers,
who specialize in herbs and greens, and display their produce
elegantly on low wooden tables (see the source list below).
The Vuarniers, and many others, include a
few branches of the delicate fernlike herb Chevril (French
-cerfeuil) in their Mesclun mix. This delightful herb, part
of the "fines herbes" cluster, can also be bought
Placette, Migros and Coop all now
sell Roquette -- a great improvement over the days
when we first arrived in Geneva. Even the online grocery
Le-Shop sells a good quality of arugula and will deliver
it to your door!
The Rive Market until 12:30 P.M.
on Wednesday and Saturday. Arugula is avaible from
the "Famille Benoit" stand on the corner
of Rue Petit-Senn. The Benoits also carry Watercress
(french - Cresson), a close relative of Arugula, which
is hard to find in Geneva.
In addition, The Benoits are at the
Plainpalais Market on Tuesday and Friday morning.
At the Rive Market, pay a visit to
the Vuarnier's stand at the top of the market. They
grow a beautiful tender Mesclun, a real melody of
tastes. You can also find such delicacies as zucchini
A great source for Mesclun in Morges
is the small stand just to the left of the entrance
to Placette, where you can buy "baby mesclun"
composed of teeny-tiny little flavor packed leaves.
This is a salad worth traveling to Morges for. But
it must be eaten within two days of purchase.
From the Geneva Notebook
with Lemon and Olive Oil - This
is a perfect dish for summer. Combine a very good
quality olive oil with freshly squeezed lemon, whisk
the two together in a large salad bowl with an egg
whisk. Toss in the arugula, coat, and sprinkle with
freshly grated parmagiano reggiano (use the real thing
for best results). If you like a bit of a garlicky
kick, place a crushed garlic clove in the oil for
a few minutes. Then remove it before you add the lemon.
with Balsamic Vinegar - For this slightly
sweeter salad, combine grapeseed oil (huile de pepins)
and balsamic vinegar (I use the brand Aceto Balsamico
di Modena del Duca available at Placette) to taste
and add a teaspoon of sugar. Whisk together in salad
bowl. Toss in the arugula, coat, cover with fresh
grated Parmesan cheese.
an Accent to Entrecote - Chop the arugula,
toss it in a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and
serve over sliced beef strips. This is a classic Italian
way to use "rucola."
Sandwiches : Slice open
a french loaf, dribble on a little good olive oil,
add arugula, mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes, or
try arugula with Parma Ham and Parmesan cheese.
Salad of Baby Mesclun with Duck and Dates
- Spread the mesclun
on a large flat platter, cover it with strips of smoked
duck breast (available prepackaged in Placette) and
pieces of sweet dried dates. In a small sauce pan
heat balsamic vinegar, grapeseed oil (huile de pepins)
and a teaspoon of sugar until just warm. Taste. Pour
over salad and serve.