Monday, January 29, 2007

Somethin' for nothin'

The Artist and I spent Australia Day at home, me weeding, him painting. We have only been living here for a few months and when we arrived, the huge ‘garden’ had been decimated and nuked by the owners who are obviously not the gardening type. At all. It was a sad state of affairs. So, since September we’ve been slowly letting the older plants find their way back (the wisteria is coming along particularly well) and we’ve added some of our own pots here and there.

While weeding I found, much to my delight, that purslane is spreading across the pavers in the front garden. I’ve been reading all sorts of good things about this little weed and am pleased to say these plants of ours are crisp, lush and juicy. There are health claims made that purslane is a rare plant source of the rather elusive omega-3 fatty acids, as well as being endowed with other attributes (vitamins C and E and beta-carotene to name but a few), but I love that this is a weed and it tastes good. Lemony and crisp all at once. In the Middle East and Greece it is treated as a vegetable of note – here you’re just as likely to pull it up and heave it out.

Now, I love something for free. And I mean actually free, not free as in ‘buy one get one free’ or ‘free gift with every purchase’ (an oxymoron if ever there was one – aren’t gifts always free? Regardless of purchase? Mmm...). What to do with such a bounty?

I tossed a handful into a salad of cherry tomatoes with an olive oil-rich dressing. Quite nice and a good use for all the yellow pear-shaped fruit I cannot keep up with, but better still was the salad with boiled new potatoes. Now we’re getting somewhere!

Firstly, make sure that it has not been doused with any sort of chemical – so no picking by the side of the road or in the park, okay? To prepare purslane, snip off lengths about the size of your hand. If the stems are thin and delicate, by all means use these too, but if yours is as mature as mine the stalks will no doubt be too tough, so just use the leaves you pull off. Beware - purslane waits for no one, so get on with your recipe before it goes slimy…now there’s a horrid thought!

Purslane and potato salad – serves 4
If you haven’t got purslane, watercress is a good substitute.

500g of new potatoes
3 tablespoons of mayonnaise (look, it’s well worth making your own here)
A large handful of well-washed purslane leaves
1 stick of celery, finely sliced
2 tablespoons of capers, drained and rinsed
Lemon juice to taste
½ teaspoon of sumac
A tablespoon or so of hulled pistachios, peeled and roughly chopped

Place the potatoes in a saucepan covered with cold water. Bring to the boil, then cook in simmering water until tender. Drain and set aside to cool.

Gently, using a large spoon, mix the potatoes with the mayonnaise, purslane, celery and capers. Taste for seasoning (salt and pepper are necessary here, but the quantity is left entirely up to you) before squeezing over some lemon juice. Mix once more, even more gently this time, and serve showered with the sumac and pistachios.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Purslane is one of my favorites! I eat it all the time come summer. Ooh, can't wait to try this salad!