A classic way to serve Nüsslisalat (nut lettuce) in Switzerland is with crispy bacon and hard-boiled eggs. You can find this fresh winter salad in Swiss restaurants and in home kitchens. Paired with some crusty bread, it makes a super-easy and satisfying meal that everyone can enjoy.
What is Nüsslisalat?
I had never tasted Nüsslisalat until I moved from the United States to Switzerland in 2012. This lettuce has a season that generally runs from about September to mid-April. Although, these days you can find it year-round at Swiss supermarkets.
These little green leaves go by many different names. In French-speaking Switzerland, I know them as Doucette, Rampon or Mâche. You would likely call them Feldsalat (field salad) in Germany. In Italian, it’s Formentino or Valerianella. Lamb’s lettuce is another name because it’s said that the rounded leaves resemble a lamb’s tongue. I have also seen them referred to as Corn Salad.
You may also know Nüsslisalat as Rapunzel lettuce. This name matches that of the main character in the famous fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. When Rapunzel’s mother was pregnant, the story goes that she had an obsessive craving for the delectable green leaves in her neighbor’s garden. As time went on, her health began to decline because she couldn’t fulfill this insatiable desire. Desperate to help, her husband snuck into the garden and stole some of the Rapunzel lettuce. The neighbor, who turned out to be a witch, discovered the theft and demanded the couple turn over their newborn baby in repayment for the stolen leaves. That’s some special lettuce!
Finally, you can feel good about eating Nüsslisalat because it has a high number of vitamins and nutrients, including Vitamins A, B9, C and E, as well as potassium. Perhaps that’s why Rapunzel’s mother wanted them so badly!
Nüsslisalat with Bacon and Eggs
- Nüsslisalat, washed and the tip of their stems trimmed
- Bacon, baked in the oven at 200°C / 400°F for about 10-20 minutes on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper, and then crumbled
- Hard-boiled eggs, halved or quartered
- Sunflower seeds, toasted for a few minutes in a frying pan over medium-high heat
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
- salt and pepper, to taste
Whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients. Toss the salad dressing with the freshly washed Nüsslisalat. Place the dressed lettuce on a platter and layer the remaining salad ingredients on top.