Do you know what health conditions such as cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, and high blood pressure all have in common? They are all tied to inflammation. Processed and sugary foods are a huge contributor to inflammation in our bodies, as well as a high-stress lifestyle and lack of adequate sleep. One of the easiest ways to control - and even reverse - inflammation is by eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods. Salads are one of the best ways to incorporate these foods into your diet. That’s why I’m sharing one of my favorite anti-inflammatory salad recipes: mesclun salad with walnuts and blueberries.
Mesclun is a Provençal word that describes a mix of small salad leaves that often includes arugula, frisée, romaine, mache, dandelion, red radicchio, herbs (parsley, chervil, and others), and cos lettuce. It derives from the French word “mesclar,” which means “mixture.” Commonly misspelled as “mesculin,” mesclun is also known as spring mix or mixed baby greens and will have different flavors depending on the greens it’s made with. Find your favorite combination by trying different varieties of lettuce, or pick a pre-mixed bag at your local grocery store. When you see a recipe calling for "salad greens," use a mesclun mix for color and variation.
WHY WE LOVE MESCLUN SALAD
- Good for you. Since mesclun is literally a mixed bag of lettuces, it is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate. Additionally, it is a good source of fiber.
- Perfect for an anti-inflammatory diet. This recipe contains three anti-inflammatory ingredients: mesclun, walnuts, and blueberries. They are rich in bioactive compounds that have been found to reduce inflammation. In fact, when put together, they make a salad that is an anti-inflammatory powerhouse!
- The flavorful homemade salad dressing. A good salad dressing goes a long way to make veggies exciting and this one does exactly that. It’s light, zippy, heart-healthy, and definitely tastes better than store-bought dressings.
- Salad with Fruit Option. The slight bitter flavor of mesclun lettuce pairs perfectly with sweet and refreshing fruits.
- Quick to make. This is one of the easiest salads you’ll make. In 5 to 10 minutes, you’ve got a nutritious salad that goes with literally everything.
Here are the ingredients you'll need for the mesclun salad:
- Mesclun salad mix
- Fresh blueberries
- Grainy mustard
- Maple syrup
- Orange juice
- Apple cider vinegar
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
- Mesclun salad mix: These greens house a cocktail of antioxidants and phytonutrients known to reduce inflammation.
- Blueberries: They are high in vitamin C, flavonoids, and other antioxidants, making them beneficial in both the prevention and treatment of inflammation-linked conditions.
- Walnuts: A versatile source of health-promoting micronutrients and antioxidants. Due to a good balance of fiber, fat, and protein, they can help lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, and burn fat.
- Olive oil: A key ingredient in the salad dressing. Extra-virgin olive oil is packed with disease-fighting antioxidants and healthy monounsaturated fats.
STEP 1: PREP THE INGREDIENTS
To clean the fresh blueberries, place the berries in a large colander and rinse under running cool water. Shake the colander to remove any residual dirt. Put the blueberries in a single layer on a kitchen towel or a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Allow them to air-dry.
Toast the walnuts in the oven or on the stovetop using a skillet until they turn golden brown and you begin to smell their nutty aroma. Set aside.
To cut the oranges, place the fruit on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, slice off the ends. Next, cut all around the orange, removing the entire peel and white pith.
Make two slices into each section of the orange, excluding the membranes that separate each segment. Pop the segment out. Repeat the process until you’ve cut out all the orange segments. Set aside.
To prep the fennel, first cut off the fennel fronds using a large chef’s knife. Next, cut off the root end. Remove the tough outer layers and slice down the center of the fennel bulb.
Place one half on its cut side and slice thin half-moon slices parallel to the root. Repeat for the other half and set aside.
STEP 2: MAKE THE DRESSING
Add the mustard, maple syrup, orange juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and sea salt to a glass jar.
Cover the jar with a lid and shake vigorously. Set aside.
STEP 3: ASSEMBLE THE MESCLUN SALAD
Put the baby mesclun greens in a large salad bowl.
Next, break up the toasted walnuts into smaller pieces and then add them to the greens.
Add the blueberries, orange segments, and sliced fennel to the salad bowl.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss until the ingredients are evenly coated.
- Where to buy mesclun mix. The best place to get a mesclun mix is at a farmers' market where you can choose your own blend of greens Also, this will allow you to learn more about the nuances of each variety, as vendors can offer samples and discuss the flavors.
- How to choose fresh mesclun. Select leaves that are crisp with no signs of wiling or spotting.
- Storing mesclun. Mesclun should be stored in the warmest and most humid section of the refrigerator. Additionally, the leaves should be stored in plastic bags with fork holes to allow air circulation. They can keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Make the dressing ahead of time. The dressing will keep for a few days in the fridge so feel free to make it ahead of time; just toss it with the greens right before serving.
- Mix it up. Here are some anti-inflammatory salad options that add a fun twist to this recipe: strawberries, raspberries, almonds, pecans, chia seeds, cherry tomatoes, yellow or red bell peppers, and avocados. Play around with them and find a combination that works for you.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is mesclun?
Mesclun refers to a mixture of baby salad leaves and herbs. It's the basic mix of baby salad greens found in your local salad bar, on a menu at a restaurant, and in the produce aisle at the grocery store. The percentage of each leaf varies, based on whoever has created the blend, but it's always composed of the most tender leaves.
Is mesclun mix the same as spring mix?
Yes. Mesclun mix is also known as spring mix. The exact mix can vary depending on the season and supplier, but common components include baby green and red romaine lettuces, baby green and red oakleaf lettuces, baby green leaf and red leaf lettuces. It may also have baby green and red butter lettuces, baby green and red chard, baby spinach, arugula, beet tops, frisée; Lolla Rosa, mache, mizuna, radicchio, tango, and tatsoi.
(Note: I try to find blends WITHOUT any swiss chard, beet tops or spinach due to the high oxalate content. Read more about oxalates HERE.)
What is another name for mesclun greens?
Mesclun greens are also referred to as mixed baby greens. They’re a blend of small, tender green and dark red/purple leaves. The flavor of mesclun greens can be sweet, with somewhat earthy or bitter notes, depending on the blend.
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MORE SALAD RECIPES TO TRY!
- This easy kale salad is packed with fresh veggies and is perfect for lunch or as a healthy side dish!
- Everyone adores this winter crunch salad that you can make all year round.
- You will love this quick mason jar salad with 3 absolutely delicious recipes to try out.
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