Medieval Sallets and Green Pottages

class by Jadwiga Zajaczkowa / Jennifer Heise

Period Greens

Medieval and Renaissance people used a much wider range of greens than we do today, including some that are now considered weeds.

Sal. Pot Common Name Now References Possible Latin Name
x x Alexanders (aka black lovage, horse parsley) Herb/Rare A Smyrnium Olusatrum
x x Arugula / Rocket / Roquette Salad A, C, O1 Eruca sativa , Brassica eruca or Eruca syluestris
x x Asparagus Vegetable A, F Asparagus officinalis
x Avens/Herb Bennet Weed   Geum urbanum
x Barberry leaves   Berberis vulgaris
x Basil Herb C  Ocimum basilicum
x Beet Greens / "Swiss" Chard Vegetable F, O Beta vulgaris, Beta cicla
x Blites/Goosefoot Chenopodiaceae species
? Good-King-Henry/Fat Hen Veg/Rare   Chenopodium bonus-henricus
x x Borage Herb B,C, O1 Borago officinalis
x Brook-lime (a water plant) Weed   Veronica Beccabunga or Veronica Anagallis
x x Bugloss/Oxtongue/Lange-de-beefe (not recommended for modern consumption) Weed D, D1, O1 Anchusa arvensis , Echium vulgare , Helminthia echiodes etc.
x Burdock Stalks (peeled) Weed   Arctium Lappa
x x Cabbage, also called Colewort Vegetable H, O, O1 Brassica oleracea
x x Chervil, sometimes called Herb Robert Herb C, D Anthriscus Cerefolium , Chærophyllum sativum
x Clary, Clary Sage
Herb   Salvia Sclarea
x Cleavers / Clivers, Goosegrass Weed   Galium Aparine
x x Colewort / collard greens Vegetable   Brassica oleracea
x cress and swine cress Vegetable / Weed A, B, C, O1 Lepidium sativum , Coronopus didymus
x Cucumbers Vegetable A, F  
x x Dandelion Weed   Taraxacum Dens-leonis or Leontodon Taraxacum
x x Dock and Sorrel Weed A, C, F Rumex species
x x Endive, Chicory, and/or succory Veg, Weed A, D3, F Cichorium Endiva, Cichorium Intybus
x x Fennel Herb B, C, D Fæniculum vulgare
x Flowers (roses, violets, calendula, pinks/carnations, borage, rosemary, pansies, etc.) Flowers A C, D3  
x Garden Burnet, Great Burnet, and Pimpernel Herb D3, F Poterium Sanguisorba
x x Garlic Herb B  Allium sativum
x x Goat's Rue Weed   Galega officinalis
x Gooseberry leaves   Ribes species
x x Hop Sprigs F Humulus Lupulus
x x Kale (green and colored), Colewort Vegetable   Brassica species, esp. Brassica oleracea acephala
x x Lamb's Lettuce and Corn Salad Weed/Veg   Valerianella olitoria
Lambs' Quarters/White Goosefoot/Frost Blite/ Fat Hen Weed/Veg

Chenopodium album

x x Leeks Vegetable B, O Allium Porrum
x Lemon Balm Herb C, F Melissa Officinalis
x x Lettuce Veg/Salad C, D, D1, D2, H, O1 Lactuca sativa , capitata, crispa, or longifolia and others
x x Lovage Herb   Levisticum officinale
x Marjoram, Oregany Herb D Origanum species
x x Mint, Catmint Herb A, B, C, D, O1 Mentha species
x x Mustard greens Vegetable A Brassica juncea
x x Orache, mountain spinach Veg/Salad J Atriplex
x x Parsley Herb B, D, J, K Petroselinum crispum
x x Plantain Weed D Plantago species
x x Purslane Weed A, B, D3, H Portulaca oleracea
x Radish Vegetable A, H Raphanus sativus
x Rampion (root) A, F Campanula Rapunculus
x x Ramsons (wild garlic), green garlic B Allium ursinum
x Rosemary Herb B, C Rosmarinus officinalis
x Rue (not recommended) Herb B Ruta graveolens
x x Sage Herb A Salvia officinalis
x Samphire [pickled]   Crithmum maritimum
x x Savory Herb B Satureia hortensis or Satureia montana
x x scallions, chibols (chives or green onions) Vegetable B, F, H Allium species
x x Spinach (spinage) Veg/Salad A, I, N Spinacia oleracea
x x Tarragon Herb A, C, F Artemisia Dracunculus
x Thyme Herb D Thymus species
x Turnip (aka Rape) Greens Vegetable O Brassica Rapa
x x Violet leaves Weed C Viola species
x x watercress Vegetable F Nasturtium officinale

(A) From Thomas Tusser, 500 points of Good Husbandry:

Herbs and Roots for Sallads and Sauce

  1. Alexanders, at all times
  2. Artichocks.
  3. Blessed Thistle, or Carduus Benedictus.
  4. Cucmbers, in April and Maye.
  5. Cresses, sow with lettuce in the spring.
  6. Endive.
  7. Mustard-seed, sow in the spring and at Michaelmas.
  8. Musk-Myllions, in Aprill and May.
  9. Mintes.
  10. Purslane.
  11. Radish, and after remove them.
  12. Rampions.
  13. Rockat, in Aprill.
  14. Sage.
  15. Sorrell.
  16. Spinage, for the summer.
  17. Sea-holye.
  18. Sperage, let growe two yeares, and then remove.
  19. Skirrets, set these plants in March.
  20. Suckery.
  21. Tarragon.
  22. Violets.

Sallets, Salads, Sallats, Sallads

The Fruits, Herbs and Vegetables of Italy (Brieve racconto di tutte le radici, di tutte l'herbe et di tutti i frutti, che crudi o cotti in Italia si mangiano) by Giamacomo Castelvetro has lots to say about salads. But this is the oft-quoted (and very apt section (Gillian Riley translation):
 

It takes more than good herbs to make a good salad, for success depends on how they are prepared. So, before going any further, I think I should explain exactly how to do this.

It is important to know how to wash your herbs, and then how to season them. Too many housewives and foriegn cooks get their greenstuff all ready to wash and put it in a bucket of water, or some other pot, and slosh it about a little, and then, instead of taking it out with their hands, as they ought to do, they tip the leaves and water out together, so that the sand and grit is poured out with them. Distinctly unpleasant to chew on . . .

So, you must first wash your hands, then put the leaves in a bowl of water, and stir them round and round, then lift them out carefully. Do this at least three or four times, until you can see that all the sand and rubbish has fallen to the bottom of the pot.

Next, you must dry the salad properly and season it correctly. Some cooks put their badly washed, barely shaken salad into a dish, with the leaves still so drenched with water that they will not take the oil, which they should to taste right. So I insist that first you must shake your salad really well and then dry it thoroughly with a clean linen cloth so that the oil will adhere properly. Then put it into a bowl in which you have previously put some salt and stir them together, and then add the oil with a generous hand, and stir the salad again with clean fingers or a knife and fork, which is more seemly, so that each leaf is properly coated with oil.

Never do as the Germans and other uncouth nations do -- pile the badly washed leaves, neither shaken nor dried, up in a mound like a pyramid, then throw on a little salt, not much oil and far too much vinegar, without even stirring. And all this done to produce a decorative effect, where we Italians would much rather feast the palate than the eye.

You English are even worse; after washing the salad heaven knows how, you put the vinegar in the dish first, and enough of that for a footbath for Morgante, and serve it up, unstirred with neither oil nor salt, which you are supposed to add at table. By this time some of the leaves are so saturated with vinegar that they cannot take the oil, while the rest are quite naked and fit only for chicken food.

So, to make a good salad the proper way, you should put the oil in first of all, stir it into the salad, then add the vinegar and stir again. And if you do not enjoy this, complain to me.

The secret of a good salad is plenty of salt, generous oil and little vinegar, hence the text of the Sacred Law of Salads:
Insalata ben salata, poco aceto e ben oliata
Salt the salad quite a lot, then generous oil put in the pot, and vinegar, but just a jot.

And whoever transgresses this benign commandment is condemned never to enjoy a decent salad in their life, a fate which I fear lies in store for most of the inhabitants of this kingdom.

 
Castelvetro, Giacomo. The Fruit, Herbs & Vegetables of Italy: An offering to Lucy, Countess of Bedford Trans. Gillian Riley. (London: Viking, 1989).

So, what do we learn?

(B) Form of Cury (14th century English manuscript):

Take persel, sawge, grene garlec, chibolles, oynouns, leek, borage, myntes, porrettes, fennel, and toun cressis, rew, rosemarye, purslarye: laue and waische hem clene. Pike hem. Pluk hem small wi* *yn honde, and myng hem wel with rawe oile; lay on vyneger and salt, and serue it forth.

Take parsley, sage, green garlic, chibols, onions, leek, borage, mints, scallions, fennel, town cress, rue, rosemary, purslane. Wash them clean and pick them from the stalks. Tear them up small with your hands, and mix them with raw oil. Add vinegar and salt, and serve forth.

So, you take herbs and greens, including various alliums (onion relatives), wash them very clean, pull them off the stalks, dry them off, add oil, vinegar, and salt (separate steps!) and serve.

Because of the vinegar, which was supposed to sharpen appetite, salads generally appeared at the beginning of the meal. They seem to have been considered especially suitable in the spring, particularly Lent; however, Castelvetro lists different herbs, greens and vegetables to be used for salads for each season of the year.

There are a number of recipes for mixed salads of spring greens which are the kind we generally re-create in the SCA.
(C)This one from Castelvetro:

Of all the salads we eat in the spring, the mixed salad is the best and most wonderful of all. Take young leaves of mint, those of garden cress, basil, lemon balm, the tips of salad burnet, tarragon, the flowers and tenderest leaves of borage, the flowers of swine cress, the young shoots of fennel, leaves of rocket, of sorrel, rosemary flowers, some sweet violets, and the tenderest leaves or the hearts of lettuce. When these precious herbs have been picked clean and washed in several waters, and dried a little with a clean linen cloth, they are dressed as usual, with oil, salt and vinegar.

(D) From Platina (Milham translation):

Seasoned Salad. There may be likewise a seasoned salad from lettuce, borage [buglosso]*, mint, calamint, fennel, parsley, wild thyme, marjoram, chervil, sow's-thistle... lancet [lanceola], which they call lamb's tongue, nightshade [morella], flower of fennel, and several other aromatic herbs, well washed and with the water pressed out. They need a large dish. They ought to be sprinkled with a lot of salt and moistened with oil, then after vinegar has been poured over and when they have sat for a little , their wild toughness demands eating and chewing with the teeth. This dish requires more oil and less vinegar. It is more suitable in winter than in summer because it requires more digestion, which is strong in winter.
I think morella may be pellitory of the wall, not nightshade; lanceola may be narrow-leafed plantain; and buglosso is probably ox-tongue, not the regular borage modern American herbalists think of. That is, Picris echioides, not borago.
(D1) On 'borage' [buglossi] Platina says, "what the Greeks call buglossos, we will call ox tongue..."
[Oxtongue] is seasoned both raw and boiled. After it has been well-washed and pressed in a net made especially for the purpose, put raw buglossi in a dish with calamint, mint, and parsley, sprinkle on salt and oil and toss until it absorbs the oil and its sharpness softness. Finally, add vinegar and serve immediately to your guests. When it is boiled, it is seasoned in the same way as lettuce."

This special net-- Could it be a primitive salad-spinner, whirled around the head to remove the water in the greens?

(D2) Unlike most period writers, Platina addresses lettuce first among the salad ingredients:

There are several varieties of this vegetable, but broad-stemmed, low-growning, and curly, and are really praised before all others. They are planted all year... it aids digestion and generates better blood than other vegetables. It is eaten cooked or raw. You season raw lettuce this way if it does not need washing, for that is more healthful than what has been washed in water; put it in a dish, sprinkle with ground salt, pour in a little oil and more vinegar and eat at once. Some add a little mint and parsley to it for seasoning so that it does not seem entirely bland and the excessive chill of the lettuce does not harm the stomach. Put cooked lettuce, with the water pressed out, in a pan and serve it to your guests seasoned with salt, oil and vinegar. Some sprinkle a bit of well-ground and sifted cinnamon or pepper on it."
(D3) At other points, Platina suggests other salad herbs, some of which he says are very good but digest slowly, and others which seem to digest easily. Rumpolt suggests at least 50 different salads, including some of beets or radishes, dressed with vinegar:
http://clem.mscd.edu/~grasse/GK_salad1.htm

(F) Including:

1. Endive salad with oil and vinegar prepared/ and with salt
3. White head (lettuce or cabbage?) salad.
4. White head salad soaked (poached) in water/ and again cooled/ prepared with vinegar/ oil and salt/ white sugar/ that is crushed/ poured over/ is also good.
6. Green field salad (field greens) prepared / with pomegranate seed sprinkled/ is pretty and decorative.

(T) Das Kochbuch des Meisters Eberhard, G. Balestriere (trans.) 15th c.:

All greens make bad blood, that is melancholy and sadness and bad thoughts and dreams except for lettuce and oxtongue . . . Lettuce chills, and to those who eat it boiled it makes better blood than other greens, and it causes sleep, whether eaten raw or boiled, and is good for people who have been hurt in the head by the sun or who have an inflamed stomach. Those who eat it with vinegar are made hungry and desire food. It is also hot and dries and damages the head, the sight and the stomach and causes bad dreams. It should be boiled in two waters to make it cause less damage, writes Avicenna.

What about coleslaw?
Castelvetro gives an excellent account of a sallet made extempore by a young lady at an inn, who cut up cabbage, dressed it with oil, vinegar, and salt.

Ouverture de Cuisine , 1604 D. Myers (trans.) on medievalcookery.com [O1] lists:

Herbs that are needed for salad.
Lettuce or cabbage.
Dragon .
Ronquette .
Mint.
Pimpernelle .
Romaine lettuce.
Cress alenois .
Borage leaves.
Bugloss leaves.
Bugloss flowers.
Borage flowers.

These here are the herbs, typically that should be had in the kitchen.

From Thomas Hill's Gardener's Labyrinth:

The Purslane is one of the Garden herbs, served first in Sallets, with Oyle, Vinegar, and a little Salt, as well at the mean, as rich mens Tables, yea this for a dainty dish with many served first at Table in the winter time, preserved...
So, purslane (yes we are talking about the fleshy weed) was served with oil, vinegar and salt, at all levels of society. It was also preserved or pickled to make a "dainty dish."
[Spinach is] aptest for the Lent time (for that the same is oftner or more common used in this season) . . . for that it is the first Pot-herb which is found in Gardens about the Lent time. . . This pot herb (after the tops cut off and thrown away) ought to be sodden without water, in that the same (the seething) yeildeth much moisture, for contented with the liquor, it refuseth any other broth added, so that this otherwise sodden, loseth the kindly and naturall juyce of the same, and besides too hastily drowned or overcome with the same. This being very tender after the seething, ought to be finely chopped with a woodden knife, ortherwise stamped and turned often in the beaten of it, which wrought up into round heaps, and fryed in the sweetest oile or butter, must be so prepared with a quantity of Verjuyce and Pepper bruised, that it may more delight the tast.

The Borage or Buglosse, or Longde-beefe serving for the pot, when the leaves are yet tender, and the flowers for Sallets. . .
Hill gives certain folk remedies designed to make Parsley grow "crisped in leaf" which suggest that the  ruffled-leaf parsley was a known but little understood variant; he also cites a number of classical authors who speak of male and female varieties, the female having bigger stems and crisper leaves. Parkinson, writing just after period, says that both plain and crisped leaf parsleys grow in gardens of his time: "Curld Parsley hath his leave curled or crumpled on the edges, and therein is the only difference from the former." p. 491.

(X) Parkinson discusses a number of other salad ingredients:

Flowers

A salad with flowers:

(G)The Good Huswifes Jewell, Thomas Dawson, 1596

To make a Sallet of all kinde of hearbes:

Take your hearbes and picke them very fine into faire water, and picke your flowers by themselves, and wash them all cleane, and swing them in a strainer, and when you put them into a dish, mingle them with Cowcumbers or Lemmans payred and sliced, and scrape Suger, and put into vineger and Oyle, and throw the flowers on the top of the Sallet, and of every sorte of the aforesaid thinges, and garnish the dish about with the foresaide thinges, and hard Egges boyled and laid about the dish and upon the Sallet

See also: http://adamastorshire.co.za/chronic ler/stormtidings/archive/cookery/salad.h tml

Here we see the salad-spinner in the direction to 'swing them in a strainer'.

Garnishes

A number of items show up, especially in late period salads, being used to garnish: pomegranate seeds, slices of cucumber, lemons, hard boiled eggs, rosemary and other flowers.

Nuts and Dates sometimes make an appearance in salads as well.

Fancy salads

(H) Gervase Markham's The English Huswife (1615)

Your simple sallets are Chibols pilled, washt clean, and halfe of the green tops cut away, so served on a fruit dishe, or Chines, Scallions, radish-roots, boyled Carrots, skirrets, and Turneps, with such like served up simply; also, all young Lettice, Cabage lettice, Purslan, and divers other hearbes which may bee served simply without anything, but a little Vinegar, Sallet oyle, and Suger.

(Chibols are a kind of spring onion, something between an onion and a leek. ) Markham thinks of compound sallets as having many different ingredients, especially pickled ones. Here the dressing is Vinegar, Oil and Sugar, not salt.

But:

Of compound sallats.
Your compound sallats are first the young buds and knots of all manner of wholesome herbs at their first springing; as red sage, mints, lettuce, violets, marigolds, spinach, and many other things mixed together, then served up to the table with vinegar, sallat oil and sugar.

Another compound Sallat.
To compound an excellent sallat, and which indeed is usual at great feasts, and upon princes' tables; take a good quantity of blanched almonds, and with your shredding knife cut them grossly; then take as many raisins of the sun, clean washed and the stones picked out, as many figs shred like the almonds, as many capers, twice so many olives, and as many currants as of all the rest, clean washed, a good handful of the small tender leaves of red sage and spinach; mix all these well together with good store of sugar, and lay them in the bottom of a great dish; then put unto them vinegar and oil, and scrape more sugar over all; then take oranges, and lemons, and, paring away the outward peels, cut them into thin slices, then with those slices cover the sallat all over; which done, take the fine thin leave of the red cauliflower, and with them cover the oranges and lemons all over; then over those red leaves lay another course of old olives, and the slices of well pickled cucumbers, together with the very inward heart of your cabbage lettuce cut into slices; then adorn the sides of the dish, and top of the sallat with more slices of lemons and oranges, and so serve it up.

So, you shred blanched almonds and figs, mix them with capers, raisins, twice as many olives, and a large quantity of currants, mix them with young sage leaves and spinach, and season with vinegar, sugar, and oil.
Over that you layer slices of oranges and lemons, thin leaves of 'red cauliflower' (cabbage?), old olives, sliced cucumber pickle, and finish up with cabbage or lettuce heart sliced and more oranges and lemons.
As bizarre as that sounds, the sweet and sour combination with the extreme fruit and nut garnish can be appetizing in a strange, avant-garde way. But clearly the most important point is to make a good shew on the table.

Markham also addresses pickling flowers and other ingredients, in salt or sugar, and making boiled salads.

Making an appropriate salad

A simple way to do this is to pick over, wash and dry well, and combine

Dress with vinegar (red or white wine vinegar, balsamic, cider, etc. but NOT distilled), olive or nut oils, and a sprinkle of salt. You can add garnishes of herb leaves, flowers, parsley, pomegranate seeds, and/or lemons. A dash of sugar in your dressing is permissible.

Green Pottages

What is a green pottage, or pottage of greens?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines pottage thus:
"A dish composed of vegetables alone, or along with meat, boiled to softness in water, and appropriately seasoned; soup, esp. a thick soup. In ancient cookery, often a highly composite dish."

Basically, this class uses the term to describe cooked greens, and especially cooked greens with a liquid. Cooked greens thickened with a little milk, almond milk, eggs, cheese, and/or broth is a standard of medieval cooking.

Here's some examples:

(I) From de Nola:

Chopped Spinach: Take spinach and clean and wash them very well and boil them with water and salt, then press them out very well between two wooden cutting boards; and then chop them very fine, and then sweat them in bacon fat; and when they are very well sweated put them in a pot on the fire, and cook them; and add good mutton and bacon broth which should be very fatty and good; only the flower of the pot of the pot, and if by chance you wish to, instead of broth add sheep or goat's milk, if not almond milk; and take bacon and cut it into pieces the size of dice; and add it to the pot with the spinach, and according to the season, if you wish add fresh cheese, you may do so at that time, cut in the same size as the bacon; and if you add much, do not add until the spinach is completely cooked; and add this just before preparing the serving dishes; and if you wish to add tender raisins, which should be cooked as well, you can stir them into the spinach; and if you do not wish to add these things nor bacon, nor grated Aragon cheese, add parsley and spearmint, and the spinach will be greatly improved.

(V) From Beinecke MS 163 (An Ordinance of Pottage, Constance Hieatt), 15th century:

Wortys in lentyn tyme other in flesch tyme:

Take caules and stryp hem fro the stalkes, and betes, borage, avans, vyolet, malues, percely, betayn, primrose, paciens, the whyghthe of leeks, croppes of netels. Perboyle hem & ley ham on a borde: press out the watyr. Hewe hem small, and do therto otemele. Take the broth of the congure, turbut, or othir good fysche as of salmon: do hit in a pott withe the foresayd herbs. When the broth ys at the boylyng, caste in the wortys && the herbs; boyle hem up. Loke they be salte. And yf thou lacke brothe, boyle elys; take hem up, stripp of the fysch from the bonys; grynd hit, tempre hit with the selfe broth; do al togedyr in a pott unto the wortys beforsayd & boyle hem up.

(J) Another:

Platina book 6:
Zanzarella: Take seven eggs, half a pound of grated cheese, and ground bread all blended together. Put this into the pot where the saffron broth is made, when it begins to boil. When you have stirred it two or three times with a spoon, compose your dishes, for it is quickly done...
Green Broth: Take all that was contained in the first broth (Saffron Broth) except for the saffron and to these things add orach and a little parsley and a few ground sprouts of wheat if there are any green ones at the time. Pass this through a strainer and cook it in the same way as above.

(K) Another:

This is an excerpt from Liber cure cocorum.
The original source can be found on Thomas Gloning's website.
For kole. Take fresshe brothe of motene clene, Of vele and porke al by dene. Hakke smalle þy wortis and persyl, þo When þat hit boylys, cast hom þerto, Do a lite grotes þy wortis amang And sethe hom forthe I undurstande. 3if þou have salt flesshe sethand I wot, Take a fresshe pece oute of þo pot, And sethe by þo self, as I þe kenne. Take up, put in þy wortis þenne, In þe mene whyle gode gravé þou gete To florisshe þy wortis at þo last hete.
(L) One more:

From MS Pepys 1047 (15th c.): To make buttyrd Wortys
Take all maner of gode herbys that ye may gette pyke them washe them and hacke them and boyle them vp in fayre water and put ther to butture clarefied A grete quantite And when they be boylde enowgh salt them but let non Ote mele come ther yn And dyse brede in small gobbetts & do hit in dyshys and powre the wortes A pon and serue hit furth.

As you can see, there are definitely pro-and-anti grits factions.

(M)Even the 16th c. Russian text, the Domostroi, has a pottage of greens, for servants' dishes mostly:

"Chop cabbage, greens, or a mixture of both very fine, then wash them well. Boil or steam them for a long time. On meat days, put in red meat, ham, or a little pork fat; add cream or egg whites and warm the mixture. During a fast, saturate the greens with a little broth, or add some fat [oil?] and steam it well. Add some groats, salt and sour cabbage soup. Cook kasha the same way; steam it well with lard, oil, or herring in a broth."

Cooked greens served without liquid is often, in late period cookery, called a boiled salad, especially when dressed with vinegar and fat. (Think dandelion greens with hot bacon dressing, if necessary)

(N)An Excellent Boiled Salad, English Huswife book 2, p.40

To make an excellent compound boil'd Sallat: take of Spinage well washt two or three handfuls, and put it into faire water and boile it till it bee exceeding soft and tender as pappe; then put it into a Cullander and draine the water from it, which done, with the backside of your Chopping-knife chop it and bruise it as small as may bee: then put it into a Pipkin with a good lump of sweet butter and boile it over again; then take a good handfull of Currants cleane washt and put to it, and stirre them well together, then put to as much Vinegar as will make it reasonable tart, and then with sugar season it according to the taste of the Master of the house, and so serve it upon sippets.
Served upon sippets, this is actually a form of sops, that is, something served on pieces of bread; the ancestor of our modern appetizers-on-toast

(O) Scully (Early French Cookery) quotes from Viander of Taillevent to explain the relative paucity of vegetable recipes. That quote also gives us a reason to use a free hand in making boiled pottages/porees:
...But vegetables were undoubtedly eaten, in quantity and variety.
Even such a work as the Viander of Taillevent, destined as it was for the kitchens of the royalty and aristocracy of France, mentiones (albeit briefly) dishes made from vegetables. And this mention has a clearly condescending tone. At the very end of his list of substantial dishes Taillevent adds a paragraph that he heads, somewhat dismissively, "Other lesser pottages":
Other lesser pottages, such as stewed chard, cabbage, turnip greens, leeks. . . plain shallot pottage, pease, frenched beans, mashed beans, sieved beans, or beans in the shell . . . women are experts with these and anyone knows how to do them; and as for tripe, which I have not put in my recipe book, it is common knowledge how it is to be prepared. [My italics.]
When Taillevent writes that the preparation of tripe is such "common knowledge" that it does not need a recipe, and even, says he, women can handle the making of stewed chard-- presumably because it is a perfectly normal procedure-- we have to assume that vegetables in one form or other were more or less commonplace on the dinner tables of the late Middle Ages.

Now, here I have to point out that I'm not sure what tripe has to do with the vegetable discussion, but is clear that boiled pottages of vegetables and cooked greens were something 'anyone knows' how to do in Taillevent's world. To generalize from that: if we find mention of boiling a green, we can make a mess of boiled greens with it.

(P) I believe that the term 'poree' is the French equivalent of pottage, so we can take Scully's notes on 'porees' in Le Menagier:
While few actual recipes for vegetables are included in most of the recipe collections, the Menagier de Paris,, with his typical encyclopedic thoroughness, has roughly drafted a section on vegetables and provides some direction regarding the proper procedures for cooking them.
Undoubtedly plain boiled vegetables were served, but a popular alternative appears to have been vegetables prepared as a poree, that is stewed or pureed, with the addition of a thickener as necessary. Virtually any vegetable in medieval times couild have been cooked in this manner. However, three types of poree are mentioned specificially in the Menagier.
  1. Poree blanche, a White Poree: a variety of white vegetables may enter this, including the white part of leeks, the white stems and veins of chard, beans, peas, onions and shallots.
  2. Poree verte or Green Poree: chard leaves or other green leafy vegetables such as spinach or brussels sprouts, garden cress or water cress, were used for this poree.
  3. Poiree noire, or Black Poree: the Menagier lists no specific vegetables here: presumably any of the above could be used. The dark color appears to have come from the cooking process, during which the frying of the vegetable in bacon fat or beef grease produced a characteristic hue. The finished dish had pieces of cooked bacon or lardons on top.

The cooking process for poree was similar in all cases, but the ingedients used to cook the vegetables varied as to whether it was a meat day or a fish (lean) day. The vegetable was culled, washed, and cut into smaller pieces (with occasional exceptions). If it was an old or tough vegetable it was first parboiled; otherwise it was cooked in a meat bouillon or in milk (on lean days in almond milk or water), then chopped finely or mashed, fried in beef or pork fat or butter (in oil on lean days), and served. Bread crumbs, oatmeal or almond milk functioned as a thickening agent if needed. (p. 256)

The black poree sounds very similar to De Nola's various treatments for vegetables (cebollada of onions, chopped spinach, gourds, etc.) I don't agree with Scully that blenderizing is always necessary for a poree; chopping into bite-size or dice-size pieces works well for most vegetables. Also, on a lean day, pea broth or the water that cabbage or fish was cooked in could be used.

(P1)Here is Janet Hinson's translation from Le Menagier:

BEET SOUPS. There are three kinds of beet-leaf soups according to cooks who speak of them, white, green, and black.

White beet-leaves soup is so-called because it is made from the white part of the beet-leaves, with backbone, with sausages, and with ham, in the seasons of autumn and winter, on meat days; and know that no other fat than that of pork is good with it. And first you clean, wash, and mince them, and blanch them, that is in summer when the beet-leaves are young: but in winter, when the beet-leaves are older and tougher, they should be parboiled instead of blanched, and if it is a fish day, after the above you must put them in a pot with hot water and so cook them, and also cook minced onions, then fry the onions, and then fry the beet-leaves with the onions which have already been fried; then put all to cook in a pot with cow's milk, if it is a fish day not in Lent; and if it is Lent, use milk of almonds. And if it is a meat day, when the beet-leaves are blanched, or winter beet-leaves are parboiled as told above, put them in a pot to cook in salted water, with pork and bacon in it.

Note that never with beet-leaves, do you add bread.

Item, WHITE SOUP of Beet-Leaves is made as above in mutton and beef stock together, but not with pork; and on a fish day, with milk of almonds or cow's milk.

CRESS in Lent with Milk of Almonds. Take your cress and parboil it with a handful of chopped beet-leaves, and fry them in oil, then put to boil in milk of almonds; and when it is not Lent, fry in lard and butter until cooked, then moisten with meat stock or with cheese, and adjust it carefully, for it will brown. Anyway, if you add parsley, it does not have to be blanched.

A species of beet is called spinach and has longer leaves, slender and greener than common beet, and it is eaten at the beginning of Lent.

New and First Beet-Leaves [probably means spinach: JP] Clean it, and while cleaning it remove the coarse leaves as you do with cabbage, then put into simmering water without chopping, and have in a pot clear bubbling water, and salt, and put the leaves in this pot to cook, and then arrange them and add olive oil or verjuice to the bowl, and no parsley.

At other times and most often you fry the raw leaves, and when they are well fried, add a little water, as though making a stock from the oil.

Again, soup of new beet-leaves may be made with blanched beet-leaves in summer when they are young, or parboiled in winter when it is right for old beet-leaves, never mind how old they may be.

Soup from beet-leaves washed, then minced and parboiled, is greener that those which are first parboiled and then chopped. But the greenest and best is that which is cleaned, then washed and then minced very small, then blanched in cold water, then change the water and moisten in another water then squeeze out handfuls and put in a pot to boil in a stock of bacon and mutton; and when it has boiled a little and you wish to garnish it, put in a little cleaned parsley, washed and chopped, and a few yellow turnip-tops, and boil only till it bubbles.

Everything considered, the beet boiled least and not parboiled is the greenest, and parsley must not be boiled at all, however slightly, for in boiling it loses its flavor.

GREEN BEET SOUP on a fish day. Have it cleaned, chopped, then washed in cold water without parboiling, then cook in verjuice and a little water, and add salt, and let it boil and thicken without clarifying it, then put in, at the bottom of the bowl, under the soup, butter either salted or fresh as you will, or cheese, or soft cheese or [or "with"] old verjuice.

Chopped beet-leaves are in season, from January to Easter, and after.

And note that to make beet soup using milk of almonds, the milk should not be strained; and for other soups or for drinking, it should.

BLACK BEET SOUP is made with bacon riblets; that is to say, the beet-leaves are cleaned, washed, then chopped and blanched in boiling water, then fried in bacon grease; and then hot simmering water is added to them (and some say who wash them with cold water, that they will be more ugly and black), then you should put on each bowl two strips of bacon.

CABBAGES are of five kinds: the best are those which have been touched with frost, and are tender and soon cooked; and in times of frost there is no need to parboil them, but in rainy times, yes. (And we start with these because they are the first grown of the year, then April, and then down through the year to grape-harvest, Christmas and Easter [58] .) White cabbage is at the end of August.

Heads of cabbage, at the end of grape-harvest. And when the head of this cabbage, which is in the middle, is removed, pull and replant the cabbage stalk in new ground, and there will come out large spreading leaves: and a cabbage holds great place, and these are called Roman cabbages, and eaten in winter; and from the stalks, if they are replanted, come little cabbages called sprouts which are eaten with raw herbs and vinegar; and if you have plenty, they should be well cleaned, washed in hot water, and put to cook whole with a little water: and then when they are cooked, add salt and oil, and stir it up thick without water, and put olive oil on in Lent. Then there are other cabbages known as Easter cabbage because they are eaten at Easter, but they are sown in August. . .

And first the cabbage-heads, that is to say when these heads are defoliated, cleaned and chopped, you should parboil them very well, and longer than other cabbages, for Roman cabbages should have the green of the leaves torn into pieces, and the yellow, that is to say the backs or veins, crushed in a mortar, then all together blanched in hot water, then squeezed and put in a pot with warm water, which has a little meat stock: and then serve with more grease and meat stock, and several pieces of bread ground up.

And know that cabbages like to be put on the fire early in the morning, and cooked very long and longer than any other soup, and with a good strong fire, and should be moistened with beef fat and no other, whether they be heads of cabbage or whatever, except for the sprouts. Know also that fat of beef and mutton are proper, but do not use pork; pork fat is not good except for beets.
Then, have the cabbages, on fish days, after they have been parboiled, cooked in warm water: and add oil and salt.
Item, with this, some add finest wheat flour. Item, in place of oil, some add butter.
On a meat day, you can add pigeons, sausages and hare, coot and plenty of bacon.

So what you have, basically, is greens boiled in beef, chicken, mutton or other broth, perhaps with some bread to thicken it. Fat, bacon or meat is sometimes added (on a meat day). On a non-lenten fish day, you can add cheese.

(R)An example from a Dutch cookbook, Wel ende edelike spijse, C. Muusers (trans.). 15th c.
The original source can be found on Christianne Muusers's website.

Greens. Boil them and cut them. Then bray pepper, sage, parsley and some bread crumbs, tempered with the [boiling]water of the greens. Mix it in a pan and [add] a cup of wine.

(S)From Le Viandier de Taillevent. James Prescott's translation: http://www.telusplanet.net/public/prescotj/data/viandier/viandier1.html

Watercress greens. Take your watercress, boil it with a fistful of chards, chop it, brown it in oil, and then (if you wish) boil it in [almond] milk. On meat days boil it in meat stock, or with butter or cheese. If you wish, eat it raw without anything else.

Of other small pottages. Small pottages such as greens of chard; cabbages; turnips; leeks; veal with Yellow [Sauce]; pottages of scallions without anything else; peas; milled, pounded or sieved beans with or without the pod; pork intestine; soup with pork pluck (women are mistresses of it, and each knows how to make it); and tripes – these I have not put in my viandier, for one knows well how they should be eaten.

(Q)More boiled salads from Platina:

Making a green pottage

To make a simple green pottage, chop up and cook any combination of hearty greens in water, meat broth, fish broth, or buttered water. Add grain if you like, or bits of meat/bacon. Salt to taste.

A cooked salad: cook your greens in water, drain them, and dress with oil, vinegar and salt.

Seasonalness of Greens

It appears that greens were eaten year-round, though some greens are considered more appropriate to Lent or Easter season, and some were specialities of the winter season. Das Kochbuch des Meisters Eberhard, G. Balestriere (trans.) 15th c.:

In summer, which is from St. Urbanus' Day (25 May) to Our Lady's Day the first (8 September), you shall eat food that does not nourish you too much nor is too filling, such as goat meat, the meat of a young lamb, a suckling calf or a ram less than a year old, and young, small greens such as boiled penet or lettuce, and perhaps for vespers, if you want, you may eat raw lettuce with vinegar at that time.


See also:

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