One of my favorite things about summer is going to a farmer's market and being surprised by an ingredient that you don't see too often. Such was the case this past Saturday when I went to the monthly New Amsterdam Market --which by the way, is THE best market in all of NYC.
In addition to the usual array of stunning produce, and delicious prepared foods, one vendor had plastic baggies full of something that looked suspiciously like the invasive weeds I'd toiled away countless hours of my childhood trying to eradicate from my parents yard. A closer look and query confirmed that this vendor was indeed selling bags of Purslane.
In the US, Purslane is considered a weed, one so hardy that it always managed to sprout its tear-drop leaves out of the silty clay in my parents yard. Given my antagonistic past with this succulent, something felt a bit wrong about paying $4 for a bag of weeds. I did enjoy it in a salad I had recently though, and I thought the Purslane would go great with the ripe heirloom tomatoes I'd just picked up. So wallet emptied, and bag full, I trotted home to go experiment with my new find.
Purslane leaves have a slightly slimy okra-like texture when bitten into, and they are mildly tart due the the presence of oxalate in the stems. According to Wikipedia, they also contain more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable. It has a very green flavor, kind of like raw green beans, and while I'm not sure I'd want to eat a salad comprised of purslane alone, it made for a wonderful addition to my heirloom tomato salad.
The floral white peach dressing compliments the grassy purslane, and the specks of sea salt make the tomatoes explode with sweetness. This dish is pure summer, chopped up and strewn about on a plate--weeds and all.
- Make the dressing by whisking together the peach puree, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Put the tomatoes in a large bowl, add 3/4 of the dressing and toss to coat. Put the purslane in a different bowl and toss with the remaining dressing.
- Plate the tomatoes, then top with the purslane. Finish with a sprinkle of some sea salt to taste. Serve immediately.