Organic Heritage Salad Leaves from Fletching Glasshouses

saladbannerv1About Fletching Glasshouses

There’s always the risk that leaves form the base of a salad allowing other ingredients to take centre stage. But once you’ve served a really good salad leaf mix, then you are spoiled for ever after as second rate greenery just doesn’t cut the mustard..

Isobel and Emily Rae, who own and run Fletching Glasshouses have years of experience growing a broad variety of certified organic crops. It’s their experimental flair of combining leaves that has created really special fragrant and colourful salad mixes.

This season there’s a tantalising selection of mixed bags and also some fantastic heritage leaves to mix your own combinations.

Fletching

Fletching Glasshouses is pretty unique. Firstly, it’s no ordinary set of greenhouses as the Raes have dug a reservoir on the land. It’s not just a picturesque place to hang out but is a haven for wildlife and creates an environmentally supportive way of supplying water to the plants.

Secondly, the growing culture has a personal touch with the careful choice of leaves that they choose to plant. Every year the salads have a special secret ingredient – well, perhaps not secret, but something different to create exciting new flavours as the seasons progress.

Thirdly, the leaves are genuinely freshly picked. Early each morning, there is a team of people picking ready for collections a short while later – and we generally arrive on our collection round about 8ish or so – so the salads have not long left the ground. Leaves are bright and crunchy without the generally sad droop that you find in commercially packing.


 What’s in the Salad Mixes

In the winter salads you’ll find Tere – which isn’t well known as a salad leaf here but eaten widely in Turkey. It looks like a sturdy fleshy rocket leaf and has a wasabi kick which melts into a sweet aftertaste which is a little citrussy.

You’ll see Tere in the potent Mustard Mix salad, which compliments and adds roundness to the spicy Mustard frills and a little is added to the Herb and Spring Salad Mixes to give a small amount of keenness to the milder flavours.


Organic Mixed Bags

There are two mixes available this week – Summer Mix and Mustard Mix with a delicious Herb Mix soon to come:

Summer Mix

The Organic Summer Mix is a soft, leafy mix of seasonal leaves.  The actual mix varies week by week depending on what’s flourishing or picked but generally it’s an aromatic mix of:

  • A selection of young freshly picked lettuce leaves – Butterhead, Oak Leaf (Red and Green) and Little Gem
  • Chicory – Sugar Loaf and Rosso
  • Land Cress
  • Claytonia
  • Sorrel – Red Vein and French

Mustard Mix

A spicy mix of Tere, mustard leaf, mizuna and purple frilled leaf.  With a little salad from above to give balance – especially chicory to give the tang to compliment the sharper leaves.  This is a zesty salad mix.

  • Spicy Leaves – Tere, Red Mustard frills, Mizuna
  • Salad Mix – as above
  • Bitter mix – Sugar loaf chicory and Rosso

 Coming Soon – Herb Mix

Soon we will have some wonderful Herb Mix – gentle salad leaves with fragrant edible flowers – marigold and borage and added fragrant chives and parsley.


Organic Heritage Leaves

Currently, Fletching are also growing a fabulous range of heritage leaves that have been well known staples, but you generally don’t find in the shops…Here are just a few that are currently growing….

 Claytonia – you can buy this as a single leaf

 

Claytonia400x400

Also known as Winter Purslane or Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia has pretty heart shaped leaves with tiny central flowers. Originally it grew in America and took its name from the California Gold Rush Miners who ate it to prevent scurvy. So, a leaf rich in vitamin C as well as the B vitamins and iron.

It’s a fantastic leaf as it isn’t bitter and is fresh tasting and mild. . It’s fairly fleshy, so can easily be used as a substitute for spinach – a pretty versatile leaf for the kitchen.

 Land Cress – available as a single leaf

landcress2

Land Cress is rich and peppery like watercress but a smaller denser leaf. It is a native cress although now it’s often known as American Cress and has always provided greenery through the winter months. These dense leaves are also pretty versatile and can be cooked – although they pretty much melt instantly, so flash cooking required.

Red Mustard Frills – also as a single leaf bag

mustard-red-frils

Picture from the Biking Gardener

Mustard greens are something of a superfood as they are reputed to reduce cholesterol and are anti-inflammatory and have powerful antioxidants according to studies.  Red Mustard frills has a vibrant wasabi flavour and crunchy texture – it’s the spiciest leaf in the mustard family.  The frills are radiant, deeply serrated leaves with slim green stems.

Mizuna – Also single leaf bags available

mizuna
Mizuna is has long deeply serrated silky leaves with trailing stems that meet at its root base. Mizuna has a bright sharp but earthy flavour which is a beautiful bridge between a spicy and a sweet salad leaf.

Salad Rocket – as a single leaf

Rocket400x400

The organic rocket that Fletching grows is a broad leafed mildly spicy variety with a full sweet flavour.  The peppery flavour of rocket is renowned for it’s pairing with deep smoky flavours like pancetta and parmesan.  It goes deliciously with the Mestó olive oil, where the grassy notes sit beautifully with fresh tangy rocket.

French Sorrel (from next week) – as a single leaf bag

frenchsorrel

Sorrel was once a staple leaf in British cooking and traditional medicine, but somehow dropped out of everyday use. French Sorrel is the broader larger leaf that we generally find under the name ‘Sorrel’ and a bit milder than the Red Vein variety.

It’s great with fish and eggs, but old recipes add it to Turnips and Swede and wilted down with butter as an accompaniment to goose or pork instead of apple sauce. The old cookery book we looked through described it as adding a ‘quickness’ to salads rather than tartness – which we think sounded beautifully descriptive.


 What to do with these wonderful leaves?

Cook up a fresh and healthy supper or brunch with a Land Cress Frittata with Ricotta and Parmesan…and in the spirit of being local, you could use Sussex Organic Ricotta and Veggie Parmesan cheese.

Land Cress in a delicious raw state works well in this recipe for Grilled Scallops with Land Cress and Tarragon Mayonnaise. If you can’t find scallops then chicken would work well and we stumbled across an intriguing blog which gave a recipe for vegan scallops.

Claytonia – Hearts for your heart. A healthy salad recipe with walnuts, parmesan and apples.There are loads of recipes but truthfully, it’s lovelier raw and even looks pretty in a vase.

salmonclaytoniasalad

Claytonia pairs beautifully with marjoram, avocado and nuts and white beans, as well as hard cheese, fish and shellfish. If serving with meat, the most delicious pairings are with duck and lamb.

Sorrel – where to start? It’s delightful with fish and eggs, but works as a perfect partner with goat’s or sheep’s cheese as well. Use as a foil for strong leafy greens and you’ll love it as a leaf in the Mustard Mix salad.

Try in the summer with a White Peach and Sorrel salad with honey vinaigrette for a real mix of sweet and tart flavours.

If you love Middle Eastern flavours, then try Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe for Fried Beans with Sorrel, Feta and Sumac as lovingly described by David Lebovitz.

friedbeans

I have heard that in Crete Sorrel is used in a version of Dolmades – little folded pastry triangles stuffed with rice and seasoned with fresh herbs and cooked in olive oil.

Sorrel is also a fantastic partner to Salmon where a sorrel sauce is eaten in one form or other throughout Europe.

Pozole Verde is a traditional rich Mexican dish which uses wild sour-grass to contrast with pork belly and sharp lime, but in Diana Kennedy’s delicious recipe uses sorrel.

Mizuna has a bright and slightly earthy peppery flavour.  Try a delicious and simple potato salad by tossing fingerling potatoes with chopped mizuna and olive oil.

mizuna_potato_salad_1

Salad Rocket is made to go with pancetta and Jamie has the perfect recipe here for a warm salad.

When in doubt, then you can never go wrong with rocket pesto. Let’s face it, Basil is a summer veg but we want to enjoy some fresh greens and pesto takes seconds to whizz up in a food processor – and you can keep a jar in the freezer to cheer up a rainy day.

Make a powerful Salsa Verde with Red Mustard Frills, olive oil, garlic and capers.  Wonderful with pasta.

 

 Visit our website at

www.finandfarm.co.uk

 

 

Organic Heritage Salad Leaves from Fletching Glasshouses

Why Lettuce is a great winter veg

Spicy-pork-on-little-gems-008

The Sussex Little Gems that are grown over in Arundel have become more robust and dense as they have been left to develop and grow.  Lettuce during the winter becomes sweeter as they have longer to release their natural sugars – and they are surprisingly tolerant of cold weather.

GemLettuce

So our Little Gems are not so little now (Nick brought one home the other day – see this pic).  We still call them Gems although they are probably closer to a cross between a Romaine and a Butterhead…ie fairly soft and fleshy but with a crisper stem.

Around a thousand years ago, Lettuce was boiled up as a narcotic to help poor old farmers through their winter months, no doubt.  So whilst we are not claiming your lettuce is hallucinogenic…it is a comfortingly soothing veg and certainly not just a salad veg.

The first pic in this post, shows Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Spicy Pork served in a lettuce boat – a light alternative to pitta bread and still complimenting spicy flavours and easy on calories for the upcoming party season.

But, his idea of serving as a gratin with pasta is warming, filling and likely to go unnoticed by those who aren’t keen on hot salad veg.

Lettuce-gratin-008

Proof positive that lettuce doesn’t have to be unforgiving rabbit food. This is a lovely, greedy way to eat a big plateful of veg. Serves four.

3 hearts of lettuce, around 500g altogether
2 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
20g butter
150g unsmoked streaky bacon, cut into small pieces
3 bunches spring onions
100g baby peas or frozen petits pois
3 tbsp double cream (optional)
100g coarse breadcrumbs

Heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Trim the bases off the lettuces, then cut them horizontally into 5cm-thick chunks. Put these in a large bowl with the oil and some salt and pepper, toss and transfer to a shallow oven dish around 28cm x 22cm. Roast for 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the lettuce is wilted, its stalks tender, and its leaves lightly coloured.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for a few minutes until starting to colour.

Trim and wash the spring onions, slice them on the diagonal into chunky, 2cm pieces, add to the bacon pan, cook gently for five minutes, until tender, and season.

If using fresh peas, cook them lightly in salted boiling water until tender – only a minute or two for little baby peas. If using frozen, put them in a colander and pour over a mug of boiling water. In either case, drain and add to the bacon pan.

When the lettuce comes out of the oven, heat the grill to medium. Spoon the bacon mix over the lettuce, leaving a good amount of fat in the pan, and pour on the cream, if using. Add the breadcrumbs to the frying pan, stir so they absorb the butter, then scatter over the lettuce. Grill for a few minutes, until golden and crisp on top, and serve at once.

Why Lettuce is a great winter veg