I used to be suspicious of mesclun mix. Dan would bring me all these strange-looking spiky greens and I would stare at them, thinking, Did you just bring me a basketful of weeds to eat?
But about two years ago, I decided it was time to give these greens a chance. I crunched on a handful of mesclun, and I discovered that the spiciness of the mustard greens complemented the sweetness of the baby lettuce—in other words, once I tried it, I found that I liked it.
Mesclun is not the actual name of a salad green, but rather refers to a mix of greens. We buy most of our seeds from High Mowing Seeds, an organic seed company located in Vermont. Their mesclun mix contains a delicious combination of lettuce and mustards greens–and you don’t want to be missing out on mustard greens. Mustard greens are high in vitamins A, C, E, and K, which means they strengthen your blood and bones (vitamin K) while also working as an antioxidant (vitamins A, C, and E).
Eaten raw, mesclun mix can liven up any salad. The other day my in-laws tried mesclun with Italian dressing, gorgonzola cheese, sunflower seeds, and Trader Joe’s orange cranberries. I enjoy the greens simply tossed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, as the base for a hearty taco salad, or topped with hardboiled egg and green onions.
This past week I also tried mesclun cooked, wilting the greens and pairing them with sausage and rice. Dan and I savored every bite of this delicious dish.
To make Wilted Mesclun with Sausage and Rice, start by cooking the rice (I used brown basmati) and setting the oven to 200 degrees.
While the rice is cooking, chop up one small onion, two cloves of garlic, and about ½ lb. of mesclun mix.
When the rice has about 25 minutes cooking time left, heat up your skillet—I used my trusty cast iron skillet—over medium heat. If not using cast iron, you may need to add a little oil to your frying pan. Once the skillet is sizzling hot, add ½ pound of pork sausage links (6-8 links). I bought the sausage used in this recipe from DeMotte’s local meat market, Yesteryears. (A little aside: If you haven’t been to Yesteryears, I encourage you to check it out! They carry a good meat selection, homemade cookies and apple slices, and Dutch imports like Leyden cheese, Nasi Goreng spice mix, and stroopwafels. Okay, back to the recipe.)
Once the sausages are good and brown, wrap in foil and place them in the pre-heated oven to stay hot.
Turn the heat to medium-high and cook the onion until browned and fragrant.
Toss in the garlic and about half the greens. Let the greens sit for about 15 seconds, then stir them around for another 30 seconds or so until they’re wilted. Throw in the rest of the greens, let them sit, give them a stir, and season with salt and pepper.
Dress each plate with a large spoonful (or more!) of greens, 3-4 sausages, rice, and–if you like–a piece of crusty bread. Enjoy!
For the printable of this recipe, scroll down to the bottom of the page. For thoughts on serving this dish to children, continue reading.
Dan and I loved this dish, but our children did not share this sentiment. Harper (age 6) tried the greens and while he tolerated them, he said they were not his favorite. Asher (age 4) managed one bite and then covered his rice with shredded cheddar cheese. Granted, this is only the experience of two children in one household, but let me just say I was glad we had another veggie side dish (acorn squash) to go with their rice.
Photographs and Food Styling: Anne Kingma
- 1 cup brown basmati rice (or rice of your choice)
- ½ pound pork sausage links (6-8 links)
- 1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- ½ lb. mesclun mix, coarsely chopped (8 cups)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Cook rice according to package instructions.
- While rice is cooking, chop the onion, mince the garlic, and chop the mesclun. Set aside.
- When the rice has 20 minutes to go, heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. (If not using cast iron, you may need to add some oil to the skillet). Add the sausage links to the skillet and cook, turning every 1-2 minutes for about 12 minutes, until brown on all sides. Make sure no pink remains in the meat.
- Wrap cooked sausages in foil and keep hot.
- Keep skillet at medium heat, and cook onion in the sausage drippings for about 5 minutes, or until the onions turn brown and fragrant.
- Add garlic and about half the mesclun. Turn heat to medium-high and cook mesclun for about 1 minute, until wilted. Add the rest of the mesclun and cook for another minute, until wilted.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve mesclun mixture over rice, with hot sausage links on the side.
- To vary this recipe, trying using a spicier sausage. Also, if you don't have brown basmati rice, use whatever rice you have on hand. Sometimes I make half brown and half white rice, and if I'm low on time, I'll make all white jasmine rice since it only takes 15-20 minutes.