Throughout Italy and Greece, dried bread is common – bread that has been baked, sliced, then baked again until very very dry. The most loved use of this bread, called Dakos or Paximadia in Greece and Friselle in Italy, is in salads where the juice of the tomatoes and oil and vinegar dressing soak into the bread, softening it and adding the flavours of Summer. They can also be used like a bruschetta as a base for a variety of Mediterranean toppings.
Purslane is that lemony tart succulent-leaved plant that is considered a weed. In fact, for many years, I hounded it from the gardens that I had the pleasure to work in. But, well hello!, the leaves are beautiful in salads and even in cooked dishes.
This is a very simple salad, but delightful. It features Purslane, whereas we usually just added it to other salad ingredients. It also makes a great substitute for rocket and sorrel in your salads, if you don’t have any of those ingredients at hand.
Our garden has a great Purslane patch, not planned but cultivated once we realised how precious these leaves are. Purslane, a native of India, now grows world wide thanks to the longevity of its seeds and the fact that a plant will spring from any small piece of an existing plant that might hit the ground.
Our plants, well watered, become quite luxurious, lifting its branches off the soil and showering us with both lovely tender leaves and, surprisingly, tiny seeds which are also edible. We don’t wash them away, but keep them to add to which ever dish we are making.
The easiest way to use Purslane, should you get your hands on some, is in a salad. Add the leaves to any salad that you are making, especially green salads, for a citrus, slightly sour tang. It will life your whole salad. It can also be used in place of watercress or with baby spinach in any salad.
Or make a salad from the leaves (rather than adding them to other salads), which is what we are doing today.
You can read more about Purslane here.
This is a herby salad with the tang of purslane, the bite of spinach, the crunch of nuts and the creaminess of burrata.
I have used Purslane, as we grow it exceptionally well in Summer. Rather than weed out all of this plant, I leave a little patch and water it well. It grows lusciously with long branches lifting up from the soil. It is easy to pick, and more important, easy to clean by rinsing a couple of times. The tart tang of purslane adds a lovely lift to salads. It is very easy to grow, and you may find it occasionally at your green grocers. You can always forage it, it is everywhere, but make sure it IS purslane and that it has not been sprayed.
I have to mention how lucky I am to have a green grocer owned by a Middle Eastern family. They stock the best Dill that I have ever seen. Very thankful. I need to mention that the inspiration for this recipe comes from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More but we evolved the recipe over the years to use our common ingredients and make it egg-free. It is like a third cousin twice removed.
Similar recipes include Spinach and Watercress Salad with Ricotta, Purslane Salad with Tomatoes, Every Meal some Simple Greens, Purslane Salad, Raw Beetroot and Herb Salad and Mustardy Peas with Purslane.