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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Purslane Salad with Figs and Walnuts


This simple salad makes an elegant starter or side dish. If you want to make it a main course, top it with sliced grass-fed steak or shredded roasted chicken.

Purslane is a succulent, leafy green vegetable with paddle shaped leaves and more anti- inflammatory omega-3 fats than any other plant. It's also a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Purslane has a mild, slightly sour flavor and its leaves, stems, and flower buds are all edible.

Here I toss it in a salad but purslane can also be used in soups and stir fry. It's in season now, so get it while you can. Forage for it (if you can identify it correctly and collect it away from roadsides and other sources of pollution) or find it at your local farmer's market. If you don't have purslane, substitute another green leafy vegetable.

Walnuts also contribute healthy fats to this dish and figs add fiber and antioxidants. If you don't have figs, you can substitute other seasonal fruit like organic peaches, nectarines, cherries, or pears. Next time I'll add thinly sliced red onion or shallot.

I dress this delicate salad lightly with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, then top it with goat cheese. For a dairy-free version, substitute olives for the goat cheese.

For 2 appetizer portions or 1 main course portion, you'll need:

1 cup fresh purslane leaves, tender stems, and flower buds
4 fresh figs, halved or quartered
Handful of raw walnuts
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
1 oz goat cheese, crumbled, to garnish (optional)

Add the purslane, figs, and walnuts to a large mixing bowl and toss together. Transfer the mixture to a serving plate.

Add the balsamic vinegar and olive oil to the mixing bowl and whisk together briefly, leaving the vinaigrette slightly broken. Drizzle it over the salad and garnish with crumbled goat cheese.

Serve immediately.

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