Monday, 11 July 2016

Cucumber & Purslane Salad

Edible weeds, the best kind! Purslane (portulaca oleracea) is supposed to be a nutritional powerhouse, and I recall that when I visited Soiled Reputation farm a few years back, Antony John told a story about how once, when he was giving a tour to some local farmers, one of them asked (exhibiting a certain level of disdain) what Antony did about all of his purslane weeds? Antony, without batting an eye, promptly replied that he put them in plastic bags and sold them for $20 a pound.

Good work, Antony! In spite of this purslane has never really been on my radar as something to eat. However last year, or was it the year before, we had an outbreak of purslane in the carrots, and it's been around ever since, to some degree. This is a hot dry summer, the kind purslane likes, so I'm definitely noticing some in the beds. Since we just pulled in our first cucumbers as well, I decided to put them together in a salad.

So how does it taste? Tart and lemony is the usual description, as well as a little mucilaginous in texture. I found the texture fine, and I have to admit I put in so many other herbs along with the cucumber that the purslane flavour was pretty retiring. You could leave out the herbs if you like, though. I would have thought that you want to get them before they flower, but apparently the flowers are quite edible too. I'm pretty sure you do want to get them before they go to seed, but there's a dilemma... well, if you wipe out all your wild purslane, apparently you can buy seeds for larger more tender strains of it.

Purslane Plant

 Makes 2 to 4 servings
15 minutes prep time, not including foraging

Cucumber & Purslane Salad

1 1/2 tablespoons sunflower seed oil
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon finely minced parsley
1 tablespoon finely minced chives
1/2 tablespoon finely minced mint leaves
1/2 tablespoon finely minced dill leaves
1 small or 1/2 large cucumber
1 cup picked or chopped purslane leaves and stems

In a small mixing bowl, mix the oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Wash and dry the herbs, and mince them finely. Add them to the bowl. Wash the cucumber and trim the ends; you can peel it if you like, or not. I usually compromise and pare off about half of the skin. Cut it in quarters lengthwise, then cut each quarter in slices.

Wash the purslane very well in cold water. The leaves and much of the stems should be tender and usable, but the stems will get tough as they approach the roots. Cut the roots off with about an inch of the stems, or a little more if they seem tough. Pick the leaves from the stems, and chop the tender stems. Add the leaves and stems with the cucumbers to the salad bowl, and mix well.


Karen said...

Thank you for another recipe. My carrot bed is full of it. My partner keeps telling me that his Ukranian grandmother used it but he can't remember how.

Ferdzy said...

Purslane and carrots... hmm, seems to be a theme. Anyway, stay tuned! I've got a lot more of the stuff myself. And now that I've started...!

MMeadows said...

I made this version: purslane, arugula and green onion. Dressing: mashed avocado, salt, pepper and lemon. Once all the lemony flavour of purslane and lemon juice; and the mucilaginous texture of purslane and creamy avocado all blended, it all clicked!

Ferdzy said...

Sounds good! I love avocado and lemon... and I have to say I think the mucilaginous texture of purslane is overstated. It ain't okra by any means.