Purslane

Glystrida (γλυστρίδα) is one of the summer staples in the vegetable market here in Greece as I mentioned in my previous post, Summer Tsigarista. It is primarily eaten raw in salads, but can be stewed with other vegetables, beans, grains, meat and fish. However it is prepared, glystrida is a ‘slippery’ (the meaning of the Greek name) succulent that needs to be fresh or thorughly cooked – nothing inbetween.

Purslane is the common name in English for the same green. It is botanically known as Portulaca oleracea with a world-wide distribution, but thought to have originated in India. There are other commn English names such as pigweed, little hogweed, duckweed, red root, pursley, moss rose. Many cultures make culinary use of this common green. It is called verdolaga in Spanish, semizotu in Turkish, portulak in Russian, ma chi xian in Chinese, khorfeh in Persian, baldroegas in Portuguese, Luni-bhaji in Gujarati Indian (said to be Gandhi’s favourite vegetable).

glystrida

Purslane is an unassuming annual succulant that grows like a weed – and for the most part IS a weed that is foraged. Many natural health benefits have been attributed to purslane – a source of omega-3 fatty acids, high in vitamins and minerals, a possible antioxidant. Above all, it has a lovely fresh taste.

purslane_risotto

Purslane Risotto
My (very liberal) interpretation of a classic Turkish recipe, Domatesli Semizotu, a stew of purslane and tomatoes – sometimes made with the addition of rice.

  • 1 onion
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 250g risotto rice
  • 200ml white wine
  • 250 to 300g purslane
  • 2 dried red chillies (pepperoncini)
  • 500ml vegetable broth
  • Salt & Pepper
  • small bunch of mint
  • 2 medium size tomatoes
  • 30g freshly grated Greek Kefalotyri or Parmesan cheese

Prepare your ingredients by chopping the onion finely, cleaning and coarsely chopping the purslane (removing & discarding any large tough stems), skin and chop the tomatoes, and finely chop the mint. Meanwhile, put the stock into a saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Sauté the onion in the olive oil in a wide pot on medium heat. When they are softened and translucent, add the rice. Stir to coat the rice with the oil, then add the wine. Stir and let the rice absorb most of the liquid.

Add the purslane. Chop and add the chillies. Adding a ladle (approximately 1/2 cup) of stock at a time, continue cooking, stirring occasionally and letting the rice absorb the stock. The purslane will wilt and soften.

When the stock is finished and absorbed by the rice, test to see if the rice is cooked by biting into a grain. It should be firm, but not hard. Add the tomatoes and mint, stir. Adjust seasoning by adding salt and pepper. Let the tomatoes get a bit soft (a few minutes), then add the grated Parmesan cheese. Stir to allow the cheese to melt and then serve.

* * *

There is a saying in Greek that people who eat too much γλυστρίδα talk too much, that is, the slippery green has loosened their tongues.

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20 comments

  1. I have noticed purslane in the markets at home but have never grown it. might add it to my garden this year as it sounds very healthy, given the properties you mention. That risotto looks very tasty.

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    • It is a weed for a reason. It will seed all over the place. Just saying so you will be prepared once you start growing it! Try it first. My sister in the US says it is making a big hit there as well. Who knows, might be a new trend.

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      • I have had it in Australia but thanks for the hint- I don;t want to plant something that will be invasive. As it is , the wild version of rocket pops up everywhere.

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  2. Ys, purslane is making it big here and I see it in all of the farmers markets. I also see it growing along the side of my garage and in my lawn. I’d harvest it but did I mention I have a dog? I think you get the idea, Debi. I do like the idea of your risotto, though. I just might purchase some purslane from the market and give it a try. I promise not to smile as I carry my purchase past its wild cousins in my yard. 🙂

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    • Those dogs! Well, even though I do love to forage, I, too would purchase it in the market if I had a dog (or cat for that matter). We have a market seller here who sells wild greens he gathers from his gardens and is always assuring customers that it is freee of dogs and cats. Try the purslane and let us know what you think.

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  3. Hi Debi, it is a weed at my place but I don’t eat it as I am not sure whether it is the right variety and whether all varieties are edible. Maybe there is only one variety – that shows how little I know about it.

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    • I have no idea if there are different varieties. I only forage things I am certain about – usually by asking someone who knows. Since I don’t have this source of knowledge here in Athens, I buy it in our market. Maybe you know someone who forages? Even if you don’t, I’ve been told in comments to this post that it available in markets in Australia as well as in the US. It is worth a try if you can get hold if it.

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