Thursday, August 4, 2011

Purslane Goes Upscale-Recipes for Fancy Folk

Leslie Edwards and her family are wonderful customers/friends I've come to know through selling vegetables. I know when Leslie picks up her veg basket, great things are going to happen!  Thanks, Leslie for being up to the challenge, and for writing this post.  These are must try recipes, and fortunately I have a new crop of purslane coming on now.  Weed?  I think not!

When Linda first said she had a “challenge” for me I got rather excited. She then explained that in my CSA basket she had added some extra purslane and would I consider researching some ways to use it and then write a guest blog about my experience. Purslane? Seriously? My total experience with purslane to date was taking it from my basket, washing it and tossing it into a mixed green salad…end of story. What was I possibly going to do with all the “extra” she had included, never mind how was I going to write about it. After all, the stuff does grow in the cracks of my driveway! 
Much too my surprise not only is purslane incredibly healthy, it has more omega 3 fatty acids than some fish oils (i.e., great for your heart!), it also is very popular through out the world. The Greeks call it Andrakla, in China it is referred too as Ma Chi Xian, and in Mexico it is called Verdolagas. Who knew that the “weed” North Americans call Purslane is such an international culinary ingredient. 
The first recipe that caught my attention was for a Purslane Tzatziki. A huge fan of this creamy, cool, yogurt dip I was excited to try this version which replaces the traditional cucumber with purslane. Peter Minakis who has kindly allowed me to share this recipe with you says that if you make this version of tzatziki “you won’t have to grate the cucumber nor squeeze the water out of it either.” Perfect, less mess the better! 

Purslane Tzatziki 
500 gr. of plain yogurt (full fat) 
1 cup of purslane leaves and steams (choose tender, thin stems) 
1-2 cloves of minced garlic (depending on how garlicky you like it) 
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill or mint 
Splash of Ouzo
Squeeze of lemon juice to taste
Salt to taste
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil 
Empty your tub of yogurt into a fine mesh strainer and place bowl or pot under it. Cover and place in the fridge overnight. You will wake up to strained “Greek-style” yogurt that has thickened and reduced to half the volume. Empty the strained yogurt into a bowl and discard the liquid. 
Thoroughly wash your purslane and pat dry, then chop half of it (keeping the rest whole). Mince your garlic and add it into the yogurt along with the purslane, some salt and some olive oil. Stir with a spoon until mixed well and taste. Adjust with lemon juice, salt and more olive oil if needed. Taste again then add a splash of Ouzo and the chopped fresh dill (or mint) and mix again. Cover and store in the fridge until needed. 
When making this I didn’t have any Ouzo on hand so I left it out. I did still end up with a great tzatziki! 
My next adventure with purslane…Purslane & Spring Pea Soup. This recipe was originally published in The Washington Post so I thought I should give it a try since I had yet to try cooked purslane. 

Purslane and Spring Pea Soup
2 tablespoons organic butter
2 leeks (white and light-green parts only), washed and chopped
4 cups purslane, rinsed and dried
2 cups fresh peas
3 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups vegetable broth
Sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper

In a large pot melt the butter.
Add leeks and sauté until limp and golden.
Add purslane, peas, potatoes, and broth.
Bring to just under a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
Remove from the heat and blend using an immersion blender.
Salt and pepper to taste.

May be served hot or cold with a dollop of crème fraiche or sour cream on top.
When I made the soup it was very thick. I recommend thinning it out with either more vegetable broth, milk or water. The addition of a little lemon juice also seemed to brighten things up. I served mine with a dollop of Puslane Tzatiki…after all you can never have enough purslane! 
I hope I have inspired you to do something different with purslane. I certainly will continue to find other ways of using it. My next adventure is pickled purslane which takes about two weeks, so I will be sure to let Linda know how it turns out. 


Jill said...

Hi there,
Thanks for the article about purslane. We pulled some out of our garden where it was growing as a "weed" earlier this spring/summer. I read that it's good both cooked and raw...but for us it got slimy when cooked. Any tips?

pat said...

It has been used traditionally to thicken soups and stews, so you might consider just adding a handful to a pot of whatever it is you're cooking slowly, much as you can use okra to thicken a gumbo.

Jill said...

Thanks Pat; will try this. Perhaps we left our pieces too big.