Nutritional value of lamb’s lettuce
|Lamb’s lettuce, raw, 1 cup (250 ml) / 60 g|
|Dietary fiber||No data available|
|Glycemic load : no data available|
|Antioxidant power : good, but exact data not available|
Source : Health Canada. Canadian Nutrient File , 2010.
Lamb’s lettuce health profile
|Nicknamed sweet , lamb’s lettuce is a vegetable with tender leaves and a delicate flavor . It is not a lettuce ; it belongs to the same family as valerian . It contains a lot of beta-carotene , an antioxidant that turns into vitamin A in the body.|
The benefits of lamb’s lettuce
Several epidemiological studies have shown that a high consumption of vegetables and fruits decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases 6 , certain cancers 7 and other chronic diseases 1 , 2,8 . The presence of antioxidants in vegetables and fruits could play a role in this protection.
The chews , however, has been the subject of very few studies and the active ingredients of this vegetable are still unclear.
What does lamb’s lettuce contain?
Raw lamb’s lettuce contains a large amount of beta-carotene (2517 μg for 1 cup, which represents approximately 3/4 as the same amount of carrot). In addition to being a source of vitamin A for the body, beta-carotene has antioxidant power and could improve certain functions of the immune system. Several epidemiological studies report an association between the consumption of foods rich in beta-carotene and a reduction in the risk of certain cancers 3 , 4 . According to more and more studies, a high consumption of beta-carotene would also have a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases 9 , 10 . the foodcontaining beta-carotene should be preferred over supplements , since they contain a host of other substances that may contribute to health benefits.
Lamb’s lettuce contains chlorophyll, a pigment that gives plants a green color. An in vitro study has shown that lamb’s lettuce has antimutagenic potential, therefore a protective effect against cancer 5 . For the moment, however, it is not possible to transpose these results to humans.
Main vitamins and minerals
|Vitamin A||Lamb’s lettuce is an excellent source of vitamin A for women and a good source for men .|
|Vitamin C||Lamb’s lettuce is a good source of vitamin C for women and a source for men .|
|Iron||Lamb’s lettuce is a good source of iron for men and a source for women .|
|Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)||Lamb’s lettuce is a source of vitamin B6.|
|Copper||Lamb’s lettuce is a source of copper .|
|Manganese||Lamb’s lettuce is a source of manganese .|
|Potassium||Lamb’s lettuce is a source of potassium.|
Rinse the lamb’s lettuce well under cold water , but avoid prolonged baths which may damage it.
This fragile little plant should not be seasoned with dressing until ready to serve. Use a soft oil (nuts, hazelnuts or grape seeds) and add very little vinegar or lemon. Beware of overly strong herbs and spices which may kill its delicate flavor.
To prevent it from losing its beautiful color when cooked, first blanch it for a few seconds in boiling salted water, then immediately cool it in ice water.
- Lamb’s lettuce and beet salad . Cook the beet preferably in the oven, otherwise in water. Let cool, then detail into dice and place on a bed of lamb’s lettuce. In France, it is sometimes topped with walnut kernels, while in Belgium, a branch of finely sliced celery is added to it. A few variations can be made by adding, for example, a slice or two of hard-boiled egg, grains of sweet corn, thin strips of mushrooms, etc. Or, serve it in Breton style, with tuna and coconut beans.
- Add it to multiple salads: radicchio and arugula, which it will reduce bitterness and spiciness; with avocado and red pepper; with minced fennel and grilled salmon; with fresh fruit such as kiwis and strawberries, apples and pears or pomegranate seeds; with grilled poultry gizzards or duck breast.
- It goes well with fresh cheese (goat cheese for example) or very tasty cheese, such as Roquefort or Parmesan. Add a drizzle of olive oil and voila!
- Italian entry . Serve the lamb’s lettuce with thin slices of prosciutto, artichoke hearts, roasted walnut kernels and a few parmesan shavings. Garnish with lemon zest and drizzle with walnut oil and lemon juice vinaigrette.
- Instant green sauce . To accompany grilled vegetables or poached fish. Pass the lamb’s lettuce in the blender with an egg yolk. Add an egg white, cream, salt and pepper. Or, mix it with fromage blanc (quark type) and a little lemon juice.
- Cook it in butter and serve it on pasta .
- Steam it for a few minutes and mash it to go with meat or fish.
- Add it chopped at the end of cooking, in a vegetable soup , a cream of celery or mushroom, etc. We can also finely chop it and add it to a cold gazpacho .
- Lamb’s lettuce soup . Brown onion and gray shallot in oil or butter. Add the lamb’s lettuce and melt it. Add diced potatoes as well as water or broth and cook until the potatoes are tender. Put in the blender, salt, pepper and, if desired, add a little cream. Garnish with bread croutons.
- Add it to quiche , custard or omelet preparations .
Choice and conservation
Choose green leaves with no sign of wilting. If the lamb’s lettuce is whole rather than leafless, the bouquets should be well supplied.
Refrigerator . Eat the lamb’s lettuce on the day of purchase or put it in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator where it will keep for 3 or 4 days. To prevent it from being damaged, it is recommended to place it in a plastic container lined with a double layer of paper towels (the paper will absorb the excess water).
The little story of lamb’s lettuce
|Common names: lamb’s lettuce, vegetable lamb’s lettuce, common lamb’s lettuce, Italian lamb’s lettuce.
Scientific names: Valerianella locusta var. olitoria , V. eriocarpa.
The term ” lamb’s lettuce ” appeared in the language in 1611. It is probably an alteration of pomache , which could possibly come from the Latin pomum “fruit”, perhaps by allusion to the seeds. Unless, as some claim, the word comes from “chew”.
The Latin name of the genus means ” little valerian “, with reference to the plant’s relationship to valerian.
|Other vernacular names of lamb’s lettuce
According to the countries or regions of French-speaking Europe, lamb’s lettuce has taken many vernacular names, some of which reflect the affection that peasants once bore him. Other names recall its shape, its texture, its habitat or its use. Doucette , bourcette, lanchette, mouth, galinette, shell, sweet grass, fatty, canon salad, priest salad, hare’s ear, lamb lettuce, rampon, wheat salad …
Lamb’s lettuce comes from southern Europe, northern Africa and western Asia. It quickly spread to the rest of Europe where it settled in cereal fields, behaving like a weed there . The same thing happened after its introduction in America. In some southern states, it is a real plague for farmers, who must eliminate it with chemical herbicides.
Paradoxically, lamb’s lettuce is one of the most appreciated greens of the French and the Italians. For centuries, they harvested it in the wild during winter , the time of year when it is at its best. There is no doubt that this small plant forming rosettes of round leaves of a deep green was to help the peasants to fight against the gloom of the gray and rainy days of the cold season. It was also attributed slight relaxing properties , like its cousin, the valerian .
It will remain a peasant food until a leader of the XVIII th century touts and serve the great of this world. Consequently, one will undertake to cultivate it on a large scale. The France is by far the largest producer, with output of more than 30 000 tonnes per year, almost entirely concentrated in the Loire Valley. Next come Germany and Italy. In North America, where it has been cultivated recently, production is concentrated in northern California. It is often part of mixed greens of the mesclun type .
The genus Valerianella includes several species, two of which are grown commercially. The mince vegetable is the most common while chews Italy is less rustic than the first and more rare on the shelves of our markets.
Tolerant of cold , lamb’s lettuce can be sown early in spring or at the end of summer. It can therefore precede or follow another crop in the vegetable garden, which makes the best use of the available space.
For spring sowing , the soil should have been fertilized and prepared in the fall, that is, digged and finely raked. You can start plants inside 6 weeks in advance or sow directly in the ground as soon as the snow has disappeared (between 1 st and April 15 in southern Quebec). Alternatively, sow between 15 August and 1 st September and the first signs of frost, protect with agrotextiles. With a little luck, it will be possible to harvest bouquets of lamb’s lettuce until December, as well as in early spring.
Keep the soil moist until emergence and water in case of drought.
To allow the little plant to grow well, we must be merciless for weeds.
The plants will be larger if they are thinned to around 15 cm.
The plant should start to produce 45 to 60 days after sowing.
Note: less rustic than green lamb’s lettuce, Italian lamb’s lettuce has the advantage of better tolerating high summer temperatures. It can therefore be cultivated during this season. Thus, by successively sowing varieties with different tolerances, we will ensure a supply of fresh lamb’s lettuce for a good part of the year.
Ecology and environment
For environmentalists, the presence of wild Italian lamb’s lettuce is an indicator that a natural site has undergone very little human action. Researchers consider these rare sites to be very precious. They constitute a unique laboratory for studying the close links between plants, fungi, invertebrates and other living organisms. These places are home to each of their own botanical and zoological species that have lived together since the earliest times. It can be ancient forests, natural meadows, moors and peat bogs, marshes, riparian and quagmire beaches, swamps and low peat bogs, rock and scree outcrops, traditional arable land, etc.
To determine whether a site is intact or not, environmentalists draw up a list of plants that should normally be found there. In Great Britain, a natural site is considered relatively well preserved if we list the presence of lamb ‘s lettuce on traditional arable land or a rock outcrop and if it grows near other plants adapted to these environments – for example the stinking chamomile and bugloss. We are therefore likely to find other organisms more difficult to inventory at first.