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Tuesday
Jul192011

« Purslane Salad with Feta Cheese and Olives »

This week, a large bunch of purslane was included in my CSA vegetable share. If you have never heard of purslane, you are probably not alone.  Most Americans know it as a weed, which rapidly spreads in the garden. But it turns out that it is also an edible herb which is rich in omega fatty acids and vitamins. It is also really tasty!

Purslane is native to Asia but now grows (wild and cultivated) around the world. The herb is particularly popular in Middle Eastern, Greek and Mexican cuisines, where it is eaten both raw and cooked. Given the recent heat wave in NYC, I opted for the "raw" (i.e. salad) route yesterday for dinner.  

Purslane makes a very good salad on its' own -- simply dressed with good olive oil, sea salt and pepper. But it also pairs very nicely with other herbs (such as parsley, mint and oregano), tomatoes, cucumbers and salty foods (such as olives and capers). This recipe contains all of the above, as well as feta cheese.  Basically, a playful twist on a traditional Greek salad. 

To assemble the salad, simply mix the chopped purslane*, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions and olives together in a non-reactive bowl and lightly dress the mixture with the lemon vinaigrette. The original recipe recommended sprinkling the feta on the salad.  I mixed it into the herbs and vegetables, which evenly distributed the cheese throughout the salad. 

This recipe works equally well as a light main course or an accompaniment to grilled red meat. Either way, it worth a try if you come across this unusual herb at the farmer's market (or in your CSA basket).

The printable recipe is here.

*Because purslane grows low to the ground, it tends to collect sand and dirt in its tangled sprigs. As a result, take care to thoroughly wash (and dry) it before use. 

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