Meet purslane. It is a weed, but a good one. Purslane has succulent fleshy leaves and stems with a slightly acidic flavor close to that of spinach and watercress. This leafy vegetable is offers some neat health benefits; it features in itself Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin C, and some vitamin B, as well as important dietary minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron. It can be fried, sauteed, pickled (favorite in Azerbaijan) and in its raw form it can be used to make this delicious salad from Turkey.
When I first heard about this salad I was not very intrigued by the flavor combination – fresh purslane leaves dressed with garlicky yogurt, hmmm? Because in Azerbaijan we never eat purslane raw. It is either cooked or pickled. So my palate was not used to raw purslane. But one day I gave it a try and made the salad. It was absolutely delicious! Refreshing, piquant, crisp – it was really really good. The salad takes only a few minutes to make. And much longer to talk about how good it was. It is a great summer salad worth trying.
Purslane Salad with Yogurt Dressing (Yogurtlu Semizotu Salatasi)
In the US, you can find purslane in most Mexican/Persian/Asian and other ethnic markets under its Spanish name “verdolaga”. Many farmers’ markets carry it as well. I bought purslane you see in the picture from our local farmer’s market. Note that the amount of ingredients in the recipe are adjustable depending on how much purslane you are using. For best results, use young purslane.
Serves about 6
A big bunch of fresh purslane
2 cups or more plain yogurt
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed (adjust the amount to taste)
Salt, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
Paprika, to sprinkle
Snip off the stems of the purslane and discard. Chop the leafy parts into big pieces. Wash the leaves thoroughly. Drain and allow to dry (I arrange it on paper towels and gently pat dry to speed up the process).
Make the dressing: In a bowl, combine the yogurt with garlic.
Add the purslane and gently stir to coat the purslane with the dressing. Season with salt to taste. Arrange the salad on a flat serving plate. Drizzle some olive oil, sprinkle with paprika and serve.