This recipe has 18th century origins, but with its garnish of flowers is pretty and delicious today.
Origin: Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site
Period: 18th Century
Course: Salads and Sides
Public Domain from The Victorian Kitchen / Jennifer Davies
Jacques Cartier was supposedly the first European to sow lettuce seeds in Canada. When the French returned to the St. Lawrence Valley in the 17th century, lettuce was one of the first salad greens they grew in their kitchen gardens. In 1620, the Récollets grew “small gardens of flowers and salad greens.” Nothing is more typical of the eating habits of the 17th-century elite than the flowers and other herbs they added to their salads as “trimmings”. Among these were balsam, tarragon, chives and watercress. Louis XIV ate his lettuce seasoned with tarragon, burnet and violets. Pierre Boucher was thus very much of his time when in 1664 he listed hyssop, borage and bugloss among the herbs in Canadian vegetable gardens.
This story comes from the book A Taste of History: The Origins of Quebec's Gastronomy. Yvon Desloges and Marc Lafrance. Éditions de la Chenelière. Montréal 1989. English-French book. ISBN : 2-89310-028-7.
- 2 heads of Boston lettuce
- 500 ml | 2 cups watercress, washed and stems removed
- 2 tbsp | 30 ml borage leaves, chopped
- 2 tbsp | 30 ml tarragon, chopped
- 2 tbsp | 30 ml chives, chopped
- 2 tbsp | 30 ml fennel, chopped
- Borage or bugloss flowers or violets, chopped
- 3 tbsp | 45 ml olive oil
- 1 tbsp | 15 ml vinegar
- ½ tsp | 2 ml salt
- ½ tsp | 2 ml white pepper
- Tear up the lettuce leaves and mix in a bowl with the watercress, chopped borage, tarragon and chives. Sprinkle with the chopped fennel. Decorate with the flowers.
- Whisk together all the dressing ingredients and serve in a sauce boat.
Recipe tested by Chef David Fairbanks, Algonquin College School of Hospitality and Tourism
This recipe comes from the book A Taste of History: The Origins of Quebec's Gastronomy. Yvon Desloges and Marc Lafrance. Éditions de la Chenelière. Montréal 1989. English-French book. ISBN : 2-89310-028-7. The authors found the original recipe in Nouvelles instructions pour les confitures, written by Massialot and published in 1703.