Rapunzel Lettuce: German Field Salad Greens (Feldsalat)

Field Salad - Feldsalat - Rapunzel

Till Westermayer / GNU Free Documentation License

When you think of the best German foods, the common dishes that come to mind include schnitzel, bratwurst, pretzels, potato salad, and currywurst. Rarely is field salad introduced as an option, but this traditional German dish pairs perfectly with any main course.

What Rapunzel Lettuce (Field Salad) Is

Field salad (Valerianella locusta), known as feldsalat in German, is used like lettuce in salad. It is also famously known as Rapunzel Lettuce, after the vitamin-rich food that cost a peasant family their only daughter in the Brothers Grimm fairy tale. You'll most often find field greens, also known as corn salad, as a salad with chopped hard-boiled eggs and crumbled bacon. For toppings, it's typically mixed with a hot bacon vinaigrettemustard dressing, or simply used in a mixed greens salad.

Grown as a winter or early spring green, field salad is available in grocery stores as a whole plant with its small main root attached. This aromatic and often nutty-tasting green is popular in Europe and has a high level of Vitamin C, beta-carotene, Vitamin B6, folic acid, iron, and potassium.

How Field Salad Grows

Field salad grows in a loose rosette and is harvested two to three months after planting. It resists frosts to -4 F (-20 C) and can be harvested well into the winter if planted August through September. Field greens can be sensitive to warm and hot temperatures, so cool seasons are recommended. If planted later, it survives through the winter and can be harvested in the spring. It is recommended that you pick field salad after the frost is gone in the morning, because it will wilt.

Choosing a soil that is rich in compost and additional organic material will yield the best growth results. Ensure that the soil is well-drained, rich, and slightly acidic. You can maintain the growth by watering moderately, fertilizing with an all-purpose blend as necessary, and growing it in the full sun to part shade. The seeds or seedlings will germinate for seven to 14 days at 50-70 degrees F and the life of the seed will last for about five years. Buy corn or field salad seeds to start growing your own field salad today.

How to Prepare and Eat It

To clean field salad, it must be washed carefully, as the dirt and sand collects at the base of the leaves. If you do not cut through the short stem, the plants can be dressed and eaten whole, in one bite. You can make an easy, simple field salad (mâche) with oil, lemon juice, salt, dill, and greens. For a kick, add peas, endives, and the flavors of spring with a fresh lemon vinaigrette.

For a creamier and heavier dressing, consider these German salad recipes:

  • Cream Salad Dressing Recipe: In this recipe, sour cream is replaced by half-and-half, lemon juice, and sugar. It's perfect for Bibb lettuce, also known as butter lettuce and Boston lettuce. 
  • Sour Cream Salad Dressing RecipeThis easy and creamy salad dressing lends itself to numerous variations. Start with red onion, chili powder, and German mustard.