Earlier this week, I told you about a trip east to Remlinger Farms that had us up to our elbows in glorious Rainier cherries, but what I didn’t mention is that while we were there, we also purchased an oversized bunch of purslane. At the time, I wasn’t yet familiar with this plant’s waxy leaves and pungent flavor, but I’ve been feeling like a culinary renegade lately, so I was more than willing to give it a try.
Once home, my wheels began to turn for how I might transform it into something delicious. Its appearance was similar to spinach, and while the texture and taste were both more intense, I decided to treat it like an ordinary salad green, dressing it with a fresh, homemade raspberry vinaigrette. The vinaigrette was bright and flavorful (stay tuned for the recipe next week!), but the combination with the purslane was completely unpalatable. They just didn’t work together. Discouraged, I wrapped what remained of the purslane in a paper towel, placed it in the fridge, and resolved to put it out of my mind.
A day or two later, I was reading Food Rules by Michael Pollan, a gift from the folks at Stonyfield Organics as part of a BlogHer Food prize pack, when it hit me. In this short book, the author outlines a number of “rules” or guidelines that, when followed, will help readers to make more wholesome food choices. It’s an easy, enjoyable read, and everything was going swimmingly until I saw the word: purslane. I still had a bad taste in my mouth from my failed recipe attempt, but I was intrigued by Pollan’s assertion that this common weed is one of the most nutritious plants on earth and is particularly high in Omega-3 fatty acids.
His words were striking and my motivation quickly returned to again attempt to make something tasty from what seemed so sour. After completing more thorough research online, I realized I’d been going about it all wrong. The zippiness of the purslane doesn’t pair well with fruit; no, it needs something more substantial to balance its strong flavor, something like garlic and onion (or, in this case, shallot). Bright red tomatoes and crisp cucumbers also came to mind as potential additions and perhaps a dollop of Greek yogurt to mellow everything out.
Skepticism filled me as I combined the ingredients and tossed them together. I was afraid of what might be, considering it quite likely that I had just ruined two perfectly good tomatoes and a litany of other ingredients, but in fact, I was pleasantly surprised. The components melded perfectly, and the result was a refreshing salad that is bursting with nutrition and flavor. If purslane is growing in your yard with abandon or you happen to come across it at your local farmer’s market, do give this salad a try!
Oh, and to share the wealth, I’ve decided to give away my copy of Food Rules. Unlike in his other books, such as Omnivore’s Dilemma, Pollan has chosen to leave the academia behind and focus exclusively on quick, practical tidbits to encourage us to eat more healthily and in moderation. It has inspired me to be more thoughtful about what I’m putting into mouth, and I hope you’ll like it, too.
To enter to win, simply leave a comment on this post. For additional entries, you can also do one or more of the following and let me know in the comments:
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- 3 cups lightly packed purslane leaves
- 1 English cucumber (or other variety), roughly chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup finely diced shallot
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- In a large bowl, combine the purslane leaves, cucumber, tomatoes, shallot, and garlic. In a separate container, stir together the Greek yogurt and olive oil until combined, then add this to the vegetables. Fold the dressing into the salad, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
Inspired by Georgia Pellegrini.
- In the event that purslane is not in abundance in your area, try substituting spinach, though you may want to tone down the amount of garlic and shallot to match its more delicate flavor.
- Now that I think about it, a lot of these ingredients can be switched up to suite your taste and availability. Use my version as a guide, but try red onion instead of shallot if you wish, sour cream in place of Greek yogurt, or omit the yogurt component altogether. Fresh corn that has been cooked and scraped from the cob would add just a touch of sweetness that I’m sure would be scrumptious.
- Now that I’ve overcome my fear of purslane, I am excited to experiment by sautéing it with onions and garlic and substituting it for romaine in a Caesar salad. We’ll see how it goes!
Disclosure: I received Food Rules as a gift from Stonyfield Organics, but they have not asked me to share that with you. I’m sharing because I was blessed by it, and I hope you are, too!