Chopped Arabic Salad with Purslane

Initially, I had trouble finding a recipe for purslane. This was because I was Googling “purcell,” which is a town in Oklahoma, the last name of an English baroque composer, a tech support company and a tire manufacturer, in case you were wondering.

Purslane, I realized, is very closely related to what I’ve been weeding out of pavement cracks of the Summit Street Community Garden all summer. I realized I could use this opportunity to make peace with purslane and take that old adage to heart: “Keep your friends close, your enemies closer.” And what’s closer than my belly, really? Could my nemesis in the garden become my ally in the kitchen? I decided to find out by making this Chopped Arabic Salad from Epicurious. —Josie Rubio

{Recipe after the jump}

The purslane in the recipe I used is optional, but encouraged. I used my CSA purslane, cucumber and tomato. Since the flavors of the other ingredients were fairly strong, I’d be interested to see what the salad, which tastes a lot like tabbouleh, is like without the purslane. In retrospect, we probably should have served a Middle Eastern-inspired entree, but we ate it with veggie lasagna, made with our CSA summer squash and zucchini.

Though the recipe calls for more tomatoes, I used only one, because we don’t really like tomatoes. Whenever I say this, it turns into a Green Eggs and Ham conversation. (Do I like tomatoes in a can? In a pan? In a van?) I do like ketchup, tomato sauce and even pico de gallo, but there’s just something odd about tomatoes. Comedian George Carlin summed up my sentiments in an old bit where he talks about the inside of tomatoes: “It doesn’t look like it’s finished yet.” Though fresh CSA tomatoes are far superior to the pink, ghostly counterparts often offered in grocery stores.

Chopped Arabic Salad

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 lemon
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and diced
  • 1 lb tomatoes (3 medium), diced
  • 1 cup finely chopped red onion (1 small) or 1 cup chopped scallions (about 5)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped purslane
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • ½  cup finely chopped fresh mint

Directions

1. Cut the lemon in half. Squeeze the juice from half into a bowl. Peel the other half, remove the seeds and cut up the segments into little pieces, and place those in the bowl as well.

2. Add salt, pepper and oil to the bowl, whisk to combine, then stir in the remaining ingredients.

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