Wednesday, August 5, 2009

180. Sauteed Purslane with Garlic and Balsamic Vinegar (p. 573)

A few weeks ago, I had a UVO in my CSA (an unidentified vegetable object in my community supported agriculture share). Thick reddish stalks with chubby dark green leaves and tiny little buds. It almost looked like seaweed. Was it a mistake? Did some wayward farm kudzu find its way into my CSA box?

Well, after a little bit of good guessing and some internet research, I positively identified the green as purslane, a leafy green common in European, Asian and Mexican cooking. I also learned that purslane is known by another name, portulaca, and is considered by many to be an invasive weed. And then it hit me. When we moved into our house almost ten years ago, these little weeds were running rampant among the shrubs. After about two or three years of dogged weeding, I finally eradicated the portulacas. And now, a big bunch of purslane/portulaca was staring up at me from my CSA box. I'm supposed to eat this stuff?

Always up for something new, I went to The Book's index, and, sure enough there is a single, solitary recipe* for purslane. The recipe is very simple, and has only four ingredients: olive oil, garlic, purslane, and balsamic vinegar (take that, Michelle!). All you do is heat the oil, sautee the garlic, and then add the purslane, and cook if for just a few minutes, turning it with tongs until just wilted. Add the vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste, and that's it.

This was just OK. I liked the texture. Purslane is a pretty sturdy green. The stalks are crisp, and the leaves are plump and tender. The flavor was not my favorite, though. Purslane is a little on the bitter/astringent side, and I think that the balsamic vinegar enhanced the bitterness and gave the dish a pickled vibe. It wasn't awful, but not great, either.

The next week, I got another bunch of purslane in my CSA box. This time, I decided to make this recipe from the August 2008 issue of Gourmet for Purslane and Parsley Salad. I liked it a lot better. The purslane had a much fresher taste and crunchier texture as an uncooked salad green. It reminded me of watercress (which I love). I also never think of using fresh herbs as more than a garnish. Here, the parsley gets equal billing with the purslane. And it's great. Fresh, hearty and grassy tasting. The tomatoes (I used little grape tomatoes) were sweet and delicious, and the dressing (just a little olive oil, lemon juice and chopped shallot) was simple and light.
Date Cooked: July 11, 2009
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Rating: (Sauteed Purslane) B- (Purslane Salad) A-

*This recipe isn't on epicurious, but there are a handful of purslane recipes there, including the recipe for the Pursland and Parsley Salad.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

hahaha... you win :-)