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Dublin: 8 °C Monday 25 March, 2019
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Corn salad: Super-hardy, nutty-flavoured salad leaves to sow now

Expert tips from our GIY guru, Michael Kelly, that will send you straight past the supermarket mixed bags.

Michael Kelly Grower

OFTEN CONSIDERED A weed, corn salad is a super-hardy and low-growing winter salad with a mild, nutty flavour. It is one of the many winter-hardy salad leaves we sow in the late summer and early autumn to last through the winter.

We generally do a couple of sowings every two to three weeks from September, to keep us going with occasional pickings of winter leaves until the new season salads arrive in spring.

Sowing

I’ve used two different methods for sowing corn salad and haven’t noticed any real difference between the two. You can either sow it directly in the soil (in drills around 10cm apart) or in module trays for later transplanting (spacing the plants 10cm apart).

Germination takes about 1-2 weeks. Corn salad will grow in most soils – it’s not fussy. It’s best sown at the end of the year, and won’t do so well in the hotter weather of summer. So it’s best sown from the end of August to October.

Growing

Keep the area weed-free and moist if the weather is dry. Corn salad will get to about 10cm high and wide.

Harvesting

Corn salad will be ready to crop in about 10 weeks. You can either harvest the whole plant or cut them down at the soil and see if they will grow back (you might get a second growth this way). Alternatively, take the outer leaves only on plants to encourage re-growth. The plants will run to seed eventually in the spring if left in the soil. A groundnut or peanut oil will bring out the lovely nutty flavour in a salad.

Recommended Varieties

Vit, Lamb’s Tongue

Problems

Mildew can be an issue in the autumn/ winter polytunnel if you don’t keep it well ventilated. Slugs will be partial to it too – so time to put the beer traps back in action.

GIY Tips

  • Corn salad is a surprisingly strong performer when it comes to nutrition and is one of the healthiest of all salads. It has three times as much vitamin C as lettuce, and more iron than spinach.
  • Corn salad is often known as Lamb’s lettuce.

GROW HQ

The home of the GIY movement and our brand new food education centre, GROW HQ, is finally open in Waterford city. In addition to our 65-seat home-grown food café and shop, we’ve a range of growing and cooking courses happening weekly. For courses happening this month, check out www.growhq.org.

Recipe of the Week – Lamb chops with Lamb’s lettuce

shutterstock_69667999 Source: Shutterstock/ChameleonsEye

I couldn’t resist the idea of pairing lamb the meat with lamb the lettuce. This recipe comes from New York Times contributor Florence Fabricant, so she calls the Lamb’s lettuce ‘mache’, naturally.

Ingredients
• 1 very small rack of lamb or 8 tiny well-trimmed chops
• ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
• 2 ½ tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
• ½ teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
• ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 250g lamb’s lettuce, rinsed and dried

Directions

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C. Brush rack of lamb with a little olive oil and place in a shallow baking pan in oven. Roast for 20 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from oven.

While lamb is roasting, heat vinegar with rosemary in a small, stainless steel saucepan until vinegar is reduced to little more than a tablespoon.

Off heat, beat in the mustard and gradually whisk in remaining olive oil until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the lamb’s lettuce in a bowl and toss with all but 2 tablespoons of the warm dressing. Divide salad onto 4 plates. As soon as the rack is cooked, slice into individual chops and place 2 chops on lettuce on each plate.

Moisten each chop with a little of remaining dressing and serve at once.

Michael Kelly is a freelance journalist, author and founder of GIY.

Click here for more GIY tips and recipes.

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Michael Kelly  / Grower

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