01/07/2022 - (Source © lid.ch) - Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your salad
The lush green lamb 's lettuce is of great culinary importance. In its wild form, it probably originally comes from the areas between the European and Asian continents. Researchers assume that it grew wild as early as the Neolithic period. And even today you can still find it in its wild form in some places.
In the 16th century, the lettuce, which was then still largely considered a weed, was used primarily by monasteries for medicinal purposes - for example as a cure for scurvy. Over the centuries, however, the lamb's lettuce enjoyed increasing popularity, was deliberately cultivated and even found its way into our intangible cultural heritage via the Grimm fairy tales: Rapunzel with the long hair owes her name to the lamb's lettuce. During the pregnancy, her mother was so hungry for the lettuce, also called Rapunzel, that her husband sneaked into the neighbor's garden to steal the beautiful green leaves from the witch's garden. The rest of the story should be familiar to most.
In addition to Rapunzel, the lamb's lettuce is also known as field or lamb's lettuce, sheep's mouth, grape cress, mouse's ear or lamb's lettuce. The variety of names shows that it is popular in many places and is therefore widespread today: from the Canary Islands to areas in northern Africa to the Caucasus - and everywhere in Europe.
In Switzerland, lamb's lettuce is the most popular winter lettuce and fortunately the majority of the leaves sold come from Switzerland. When it comes to nutmeg salad, for example, Switzerland is practically self-sufficient and only around 10 percent is imported. With almost 550 hectares under cultivation, lettuce also ranks 7th among vegetables with the largest acreage in Switzerland. Nut lettuce is also an important crop for Swiss vegetable producers: in 2020, with sales of a good 70 million francs, it was number 2 behind tomatoes.
Along with other winter lettuce varieties such as sugar loaf, cicorino rosso, chicory or endive lettuce, lamb's lettuce is one of the leafy vegetables that find their way into the store fresh from the field in winter. The robust lettuce easily handles temperatures down to minus 15 degrees. In terms of appearance, however, the lamb's lettuce differs significantly from its colleagues, and its taste is also far more delicate and nutty than other winter salads.
The lamb's lettuce is also very rich in nutrients and vitamins: it has a high vitamin C content that far exceeds that of lettuce. The lamb's lettuce also boasts high levels of potassium, vitamin B6, copper, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus. In addition, lamb's lettuce is an important source of iron. Its roots and, to a lesser extent, its leaves also contain valerian oil. This promotes sleep and calms the stomach.
Enjoy warm in combination with egg and We know bacon , the nutmeg salad, above all as a classic appetizer. Due to its nutty aroma, it also goes well with cheese and mushrooms. The warm variant is a little less well-known as a kind of spinach: briefly steamed in a little butter, lamb's lettuce tastes very delicious.