Sunday, May 6, 2012

Purslane, anyone?

It seems like the seasons are going in reverse right now in Holland. Winter is back, with a vengeance. The radiators are on full blast, my woolen socks are once again covering my feet and I feel the need to eat hearty stews and warm beverages.

The markets though are in a different mode. Spring produce is abundant and I'm constantly dazed by the variety of green vegetables and colorful fruit that is on offer. I'm in a bind. What to go for?

Of course fresh produce always wins in my book so yesterday, when I went to my greengrocer's, I spotted strawberries, green asparagus and a bunch of purslane that I needed to bring home at once.

Today, I made strawberry ice cream and I ate purslane. A lot of it. We ate it in a salad for lunch and then later, for dinner, it was served alongside a juicy fillet of grilled sea bass.

In Greece, when someone talks too much and too fast, we say that they must have eaten purslane. It's because purslane gives such a pleasant, refreshing feeling to the mouth that one might get the urge to talk more than usual. I, even though I've had my fair share of the leafy green weed today, will not say too much.

All I'm gonna say is that if for whatever reason you haven't tasted purslane yet, do it. The green, succulent leaves have a somewhat sour, lemony tang and the thin, tender stalks have a peppery kick that is reminiscent of rocket.

Purslane gets a bad rap because it grows everywhere, even back yards and roadsides, but this weed is so incredibly flavorful it surely doesn't deserve to be shunned.
Why don't you give it a try?

P.S. Strawberry ice cream, coming soon!

Purslane Salad with Cucumbers, Red Onion and Feta

One thing that would complement perfectly the flavors of this salad would be a handful of black olives, but unfortunately I was out. I will definitely add them the next time I prepare it though, which will be very very soon.

This salad will feed comfortably two people for a light lunch. Pair it with some rustic bread and a glass of white wine or serve it alongside a piece of fish or chicken, or even a beef steak for dinner.

The quantity as well as the thickness of a cut vegetable make a difference in the overall flavor of any dish. I love slicing the cucumber and onion in this salad super thin so that their flavor isn't prominent and does not overpower the taste of the purslane. Eh, I also needed an excuse to test out my new mandolin, which is perfect. The old one went right in the bin.
If you don't have a mandolin, slice the cucumber and onion as thinly as you can with a sharp knife.

Yield: 2 servings

200 g purslane, leaves and tender stalks
1/3 of a large cucumber, very thinly sliced (about 20 slices)
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
Salt, to taste
100-150 g feta
1 ½ Tbsp red wine vinegar
4-5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Special equipment: mandolin (optional)

Rinse the purslane under cold running water and drain on a clean kitchen towel or kitchen paper.
I don't bother chopping it up. I just separate the upper leafy part from the long stems and cut the stems into manageable pieces.

Toss the purslane with the sliced cucumbers and red onion and sprinkle with the salt. Arrange in a salad bowl or platter, crumble the feta with your hands over the top and drizzle with the red wine vinegar and olive oil.

Serve immediately.


  1. That salad sure looks good! With the thinly sliced cucumber and the onion... it must be delicious!

  2. that looks lovely and simple! I don't eat enough purslane but I enjoy it! :)

  3. Hope you're feeling better Magda, even if the weather is pretty miserable. Sorry for not getting back to you with film tips - if you're still interested, something like The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr Fox, the Squid and the Whale, Breathless and of course anything by Woody Allen would probably help. I too am overwhelmed by choice at the markets right now and ate my first fresh strawberries last weekend. I was looking for fresh salad ideas so this would be a good one to try. Take care.

  4. I have to say I think I have never seen it being sold here and I would love to try it. I will look even more attentively this year.

  5. Yikes! Can't figure out this weather here either. Looks so light and healthy...think of warmer days!

  6. When I lived in the Eastern US, purslane was a weed as you stated. But when I joined the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) purslane came in one of my shares and it was SO delicious! I hope it warms up for you soon! ~David

  7. I found out about purslane being rich in nutrients (Omega 3 among others) in Paula Wolfert 's book and was so happy, since it is what makes up our fattoush! Purslane is beloved in lebanon and is eaten in salads most of the time. Love yours, that feta there is calling me! Hope the weather clears up soon for you!

  8. I'm loving the Greek saying about purslane and talking too much. Almost 'Nigerian' in the sense of 'proverbs' and wise sayings :-). Love the look of the salad.

  9. PolaM — thank you. The mandolin helped with that :)

    Lorraine — oh you must eat it more often. It's delicious.

    Emily — I'm fine now, thank you.
    I've seen all of the films you're suggesting and I love them! Woody, yes that's an all-time favorite, as you know, especially Annie Hall. I watched last week when I was feeling awful and it lifted my spirits!

    Nuts about food — yes, you must look for it, you'll love it!

    Belinda — this weather is unbelievable! We thought spring has finally arrived but then all of a sudden, gloomy skies and cold temperatures made their appearance. Thank god for spring produce though :)

    David — don't you just love it? It's so worthy of more attention. Rocket watch out!!

    Joumana — yes, purslane has the highest percentage of omega 3 fatty acids of all vegetables. Isn't that amazing? In Greece is a favorite green as well. We have so much in common :)

    Oz — hi there! hehe we both are wise people :)

  10. I tried to grow some purslane a few years ago, but my seeds never sprouted so I just gave us. Purslane is so pretty and is so good for our health perhaps I will make a second attempt after seeing your great pictures of your lovely recipe using this unusual green.

  11. I can feel the cold from here magda! when i was recently in holland, i couldnt believe how different the climate can be from one side of europe ot the other - but you're lucky to see purslane so early (must be all that rain and damp!), as we wont be seeing it in greece until later in the month

  12. Magda, purslane has a lot of health benefits and I love to incorporate them in the food I cook. However, because they are very delicate, my purslane plant died in winter and I am still waiting to get one for the nursery.

    I cook it with lentil soup and it tastes fabulous.

  13. Teresa — I have never tried to grow my own, I'm not very good with plants, they always seem to die on me. I usually buy it from the market or when I;m in Greece, neighbors just give it to me straight from their back yards.

    maria — you were in Holland? How come? Yes, it's extremely humid here and I guess these kind of weeds grow easily and sooner than in Greece.

    familicook — with lentil soup sounds interesting. I'm gonna have to give that a try.

  14. I love purslane! In Turkey we eat it mixed with thick yogurt, garlic and olive oil. It's also served stewed with rice and tomatoes. I like the idea of adding feta and olives, will have to try that once I get my hands on some purslane.

  15. I have eaten purslane, mixed up with other leafy greens in a salad. I'll have to try it alone, let its lemon-peppery tastes speak up. Love the Greek saying about it!

    weather has been a roller-coaster ride here too--one week it is as hot as summer, followed by a big chill. crazy.

  16. What a bummer that it's cold again. Can't say it's really nice here in NYC either, but seeing as I have to be pregnant thru the summer, I am not at all anxious for the warm weather to arrive. This salad looks wonderful. I could eat that whole plate!

  17. holidaying with the family, at a friend's near alkmaar - had a great time
    (making this today!)

    1. Alkmaar? I have never been there. Next time you should come to The Hague :)
      I hope you liked the salad!