Glorious Summer! Wander out to the garden and gather some crunchy cucumbers, a ripe tomato or two, and a handful of purslane for the main ingredients of a memorable salad. Purslane? Yes, that weed you’ve been tossing into the compost is a wonderfully nutritious summer green – as well as tasty. Purslane is a bit sour with citrus undertones and makes a perfect foil for cucumbers. Use as much of it in your salad as your palate accepts or as your garden provides. (The cracks in your sidewalk may even offer a bit of purslane.)
In just a few minutes of washing and chopping, seasoning and tossing, you will have a wonderful salad. You can certainly add some pieces of cooked chicken and call this dinner. Serve the salad with homemade flat bread brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with zaatar.
The ingredients listed below do not indicate amounts. Don’t get hung up on amounts of anything here. Work with what you have and what you most enjoy. No garden tomatoes? Consider using a few dried tomatoes stored in oil. Sliver them up before adding to the salad. You don’t like sumac? OK! Just go for salt and pepper. This salad is wonderful. Put it together and season it to suit yourself.
You will find this dish is most flavorful when served fresh and at room temperature. If you have leftovers, bring them back to room temperature before serving.
Purslane Salad Ingredients
- 4 young cucumbers, crisp and not over-grown, peeled
- 4 garden tomatoes
- 1 cup purslane leaves, picked off the stems, washed and drained in a colander
- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tablespoon sumac (available from Middle-Eastern groceries)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Cooked pieces of chicken for a full meal (optional)
Purslane Salad Steps
- Wash the tomatoes and cucumbers. Set them aside for a bit to drain and dry. Wet vegetables water down the flavor of the salad.
- Peel or not peel the tomatoes and cucumbers. If the peelings are tough, I peel them. We eat much more salad if we don’t have to contend with cranky peelings.
- Cut the cucumbers and tomatoes into bit-sized pieces. Place them in a medium sized bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and splash on some lemon juice. Add the lemon juice a little at a time.
- Add the purslane and crushed garlic, salt and pepper, a sprinkling of sumac. Toss gently. Mix the vegetables, but do not beat them up. Each piece should be coated with oil. The oil carries the flavors of the seasonings.
- Do a taste test and adjust the seasonings accordingly. Often a bland-tasting salad just needs a bit more salt. If you are using chunky salt, let the salad sit for a few minutes for the salt to blend in. Then taste again.
- Add the cooked chicken if you are making a meal of this and serve to your lucky diners.