Tuesday, 23 July 2013

How could purslane have passed me by?


 Udon noodle salad with cucumber and Beldroega (purslane) dressed with a mint,purslane, coriander and ginger pesto

I have discovered Purslane... and what a discovery it has been ! This fabulous, succulent green is amazing.Its name sounds like an accessory but its price in the market is more than easy on a purse.How could Purslane have passed me by when all these years I have passed by purslane unnoticed?
How could I have missed it? -it grows like an abundant weed and is high up on any foragers trail. I must have brushed by it on so many country walks through the fields.Last week after a hot and tiresome shopping trip we popped in to see our friend Catherine.Bistro O Porto,her stylish Tavira harbour front restaurant purveys fine organic fare, perfect for light lunches after  shopping or slow relaxed  dinners with friends.She drew my attention to a clump of weeds abundantly overflowing from a large counter top jug of water.It was organic wild beldroega (purslane),and for the very first time in my life I was being confronted by this "green", for want of a better word .I Said....
"You Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' 
You Got To Be Startin' Somethin'"
because for me this was the start of something - My discovery of purslane.The very next day witnessed me leaving the market with green bundles of what looked like the Amazonian rain forest.Purslane with roots attached.My plan was to come up with new recipes and see if it would be possible to plant some stems in the garden.( The news is the stems have taken and before long I will be able to pick my own purslane growing just a few metres from my salad box.) It is sometimes known as Indian lettuce.But why I don´t know as it really doesn’t look like lettuce at all. It looks more like watercress, and tastes like a cross between watercress and sorrel The plant has two types of leaves, heart-shaped and oval, with the flowers protruding from the middle.Although purslane originated in India it has traveled far and may be found in menus around the world,and now finally at Casa Rosada. Maybe purslane's pervasiveness can be attributed to its nutritional profile and ease of cultivation. Its tart and tangy flavour adds a unique taste when included in salads.Better eaten raw than cooked it brings something to a green sald and if you pair it with cucumber your plates become the bees knees.
Given its origins I thought I would make an Indian inspired pesto and dress a salad with it.This fresh cold noodle salad combines a lot of great flavours and textures to make the perfect summertime meal. It also includes my newly discovered friend, purslane.
FOR THE PESTO
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup Purslane
1/2 cup coriander leaves and stems
1 cup basil
thumb sized piece of ginger peeled and chopped
1/2 cup  roasted salted marcona almonds or dry roasted peanuts
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (approx.2 limes
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Blend all together in a processor.Bottle what you have left over and keep it in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

FOR THE NOODLES- makes 5 portions
500g Dry Udon Noodles (yields 1.2kg when cooked)

50ml ground nut oil or peanut oil
1 red chilli seeds removed and chopped finely
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 pieces sweet stem ginger in syrup,drained (reserve syrup) and chopped finely
50ml light soya sauce 

Cook the noodles in boiling water (no salt)for 8 minutes.Drain,cool,pat dry with a kitchen towel and keep wrapped in the towel until ready to use.Heat the oil in a wok over a medium to high heat,add the chopped garlic,chilli and ginger.Stirfry until the garlic is cooked,stir in the reserved ginger syrup,and soya sauce.remove from the heat and stir through the noodles until well coated.Transfer to a salad bowl and add half a cucumber diced and peeled, generous handfuls of Beldroega (Purslane ) leaves picked from their stalks.Toss the pesto vigorouslythrough the noodle salad and sit down to eat.

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