Field salad is both the name of a specific type of edible green vegetable, and also the name of any salad made with the leaves of a variety of fresh, small leafy vegetables. The plant Valerianella locusta is also called corn salad, field lettuce, lamb’s lettuce, or Rapunzel. The plant was once gathered in the wild in Europe, then cultivated freely throughout North America and Europe.
An early spring lettuce, field salad is hardy to -4° F (-20° C), so it can be grown throughout colder months in areas where the ground does not freeze in the winter. However, the plant tends to bolt, or run quickly to seed, in hot weather rather than producing edible leaves. The plant produces long oval-shaped leaves in a rosette or loose head, and is usually harvested when young and tender.
A field greens salad may include this ingredient as well as dandelion and mustard greens, spinach, rocket, and several types of lettuce. Commercially, a field salad blend of young arugula, curly endive, field lettuce, mizuna, mustard greens, radicchio, and red chard is packaged as spring greens or a mesclun salad mix. A gardener, with a small amount of room, can easily grow a low-maintenance field salad or mesclun mix by scattering a mixture of lettuce and greens in a sunny location and keeping it well-watered.
The popularity of this salad has produced many versions of the field greens salad recipe. Sharp-tasting or spicy field greens, such as rocket, dandelion greens, chard, Belgian endive, and chicory, can be blended with mild and creamy ingredients. A mixture of mild shredded cheddar or smoked gouda, strawberries or orange segments, sliced avocado, and matchstick slices of jicama can provide a tasty salad full of variety and crunch.
Milder-tasting types of field salad, using bibb, butter, radicchio, corn salad, romaine, and watercress, can be combined with many ingredients. One field greens salad recipe tosses rich gorgonzola, dried cherries, cranberries, or blueberries, apple chunks, and walnuts or pecans in a raspberry or balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Another recipe calls for mixing the field salad with kumquats, strawberries, pesticide-free rose petals, and poppy seeds.
All the types of field salad are rich in nutrients. The greens and lettuces have plenty of fiber, beta-carotene, potassium, vitamins A, C, D, and E, folic acid, and iron. The original field salad, or corn salad, also contains omega-3 fatty acids, making it a healthy, cheap food source.