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What is a Field Salad?

By Angela Williams Duea
Updated May 16, 2024
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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.

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Discussion Comments
By geekish — On Sep 01, 2011

@alfredo - When it comes to salad recipes, I always say keep trying different ones so that you can find out what veggies you like in conjunction with the field greens.

However, I would think a spicy dressing would go wonderfully with the bitter of the field greens.

And dressings are easy to make! So for this spicy dressing you put together the following in a food processor: green onions, olive oil, rice vinegar, 2 garlic cloves, a dash of ginger and last but not least some chili powder for a little kick.

To make more of a low fat salad dressing - substitute vinegar for some of the olive oil. There are a variety of vinegars, but I would personally go with apple cider vinegar.

By aLFredo — On Aug 31, 2011

The first time I was served a field salad I was a bit scared - it looked lie someone had gone outside and picked some leaves from the shrubs outside.

Like any new taste it took me a while to change from the iceberg and romaine that I had grown up with, but now I truly enjoy field salads - they have so much taste.

My personal fave in the salad was the arugula. So much so that I thought I would make an entire salad whose greens were just arugula. Bad, bad idea. Too strong of a taste to be the solo leaf in the salad.

I have only ordered field salads in a restaurant (except for the arugula salad) and I think I am read for a recipe for a salad (as proven by my arugula salad attempt). And suggestions?

By SarahSon — On Aug 31, 2011

I like to take some fresh field salad greens and use a variety of fresh fruit that is in season for a quick summer meal.

One of my favorite summer salad recipe uses blueberries, strawberries and almonds. By adding a chicken breast I have a delicious, and filling meal that is easy to prepare and very nutritious.

This salad is perfect on a hot day when you don't feel like eating much. It is filling, but also leaves you with the right amount of sweet taste.

By sunshined — On Aug 30, 2011

I make a meal out of salad quite often. It is an easy way to get a variety of fruit and vegetables without going to a lot of work or turning on the oven or stove.

One day when eating lunch with a friend, I tried Culvers strawberry fields salad. Since I love strawberries, this sounded really good on a hot day. The strawberries mixed in with the greens and light dressing was really good.

I have often used mandarin oranges in a salad, and think that I will try mixing both oranges and strawberries for a sweet salad treat.

By golf07 — On Aug 30, 2011

I really enjoy a good salad, and think that a mixture of greens really helps make a salad much more appetizing and appealing. It is also nice to have a combination of tastes from the different kinds of greens.

Some are sweet, some a little spicy, and some greens are even a little bit bitter, but when they are all combined together, they have a wonderful taste.

I have a simple salad recipe that I use often with a mixture of field salad greens. I add some toasted walnuts, crumbled blue cheese and a tart apple. I drizzle on some raspberry vinaigrette dressing, and this is a perfect salad to complement just about any meal.

By ysmina — On Aug 29, 2011

My dad has German roots and he loves his "feldsalat" -German for field salad. But field salad is so expensive in the US, especially if it's organic. I love it too but it's at least triple the price of iceberg or romaine lettuce.

I actually want to plant some in the yard. I already purchased some seeds but since it's summer now, do I need to wait until late summer or early fall? I think it can be planted in late summer to eat in the winter and in winter to eat in spring right?

And just out of curiosity, does the other name for field greens- rapunzel, have anything to do with the fairytale Rapunzel?

By serenesurface — On Aug 28, 2011

Field salad is such a great side dish, it always saves the day when you can't think of any other side dishes to make. The best part about it is that field salad can be dressed up or down for the occasion. You can have it for a barbecue or a nice dinner at home for special guests and it's always loved.

When I have guests coming over, I make a field salad with ingredients like sprouts, grapes, feta cheese, walnuts, tangerines and mushrooms. I serve it with different options of dressings like balsamic and Italian vinaigrette.

When it's something like a barbecue and where I want the kids to be able to eat the salad, I put things like corn and cheddar cheese to make it look more appetizing for them and serve with Ranch dressing. No matter what the event is, the field salad is always a hit.

By burcinc — On Aug 28, 2011

The brand of field salad I purchase at the grocery store actually has different mixes available in terms of mildness. I do like a little bit of bitterness in my field salad with things like endive included. But it should not be too much, otherwise it tastes too bitter. I also only use olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice as a salad dressing which does not cover up the flavors in the salad.

That's why I always get a mild or slightly bitter field salad mixes. These also last for at least a week in the fridge, so it's very convenient to take some out and have it everyday for lunch or dinner.

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