Purslane, Mushrooms, and Root Vegetables with Roasted Lemon

Today I thought I would highlight one of the most unusual ingredients that you may find at the Red Hook Community Farm this summer: purslane.

Many of you may not have seen this plant in your grocery store, but I’m willing to bet many more of you have seen this plant growing wild around the city, hiding on the sides of buildings, sticking out of pockets of grass here and there, or pushing its way through the cracks in the Red Hook sidewalks. Yes, purslane is commonly thought of as a weed, but it’s certainly edible. Many describe it as having the faint taste of lemon and a grassy flavor that reminds me of a very mild asparagus.

{Read more – and get the recipe – after the jump.}

While I’ve sampled purslane here and there, I’ve never had the chance to cook with it before. That’s why I became absolutely giddy when I saw it at the market last week. Finally, I’ll have the chance to cook with something that I tried to rid our yard of every summer as a child. Who knew that it was not only worth saving but putting on the plate for dinner as well?

This recipe also takes advantage of the wonderful fresh carrots that we have as part of the CSA this time of year. When combined with a few simple ingredients that can be mixed and matched, we have the makings of a very unique dinner. Other components of this dish include potatoes, parsnips, and mushrooms. But feel free to improvise. Potatoes could be russet potatoes, new potatoes, gold potatoes, or sweet potatoes. Use parsnips, or substitute the parsnips for any other root vegetable that you like. As far the mushrooms, while I prefer earthy shiitakes for this dish, you could use portobellos, buttons, or more interesting varieties like morels, oysters, or chanterelles.

The point is: be creative, use what you can find fresh at the market or in the store, and have some fun with this dish!

For those of you that like protein with your meals, I think this is a wonderful recipe for fish. I am serving this dish with crispy panko breaded cod, but again it really is up to you. Feel free to serve whatever protein you like. A wide variety of meats or seafood can go with this dish. — Adam Gregory

Purslane, Mushrooms, and Root Vegetables with Roasted Lemon

Servings: 6

Cooking time: around 45 Minutes 

Raw purslane

Ingredients for the Vegetables:

  • 3 cups purslane
  • 1 lb potatoes
  • 2 parsnips
  • 6 CSA carrots
  • ¼ lb shitake mushrooms
  • 2 tbs chopped parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1 ½ roasted lemons
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbs + 1 Tbs olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the Crispy Cod:

  • 6 cod fillets (~1 ¾ lb)
  • 2 CSA eggs
  • 2 tbs water
  • ½ cup flour, seasoned to taste
  • 1 cup Panko (or regular) breadcrumbs
  • 4 tbs olive oil

Purslane and cod -- it's what's for dinner!

Directions:

1.) Place a medium pot of water on the stove over high heat. In the mean time, peel the parsnips and slice on a diagonal into around ⅛” – ¼” slices. If some of your parsnips are particularly large at one end, consider slicing off the narrow end and cutting the parsnips in half, then into quarters. You’ll notice that the inside of the large parsnips have a rather fibrous core. By cutting the largest pieces of the parsnips into quarters, you can easily cut out the fibrous parts with a knife.

2.) Trim the tips from the carrots. Wash the carrots and remove any small roots. Peel the carrots and slice, again, at a diagonal into around ⅛” – ¼: slices. If your market carrots are bulbous as opposed to long and slender, slice these in half before you slice them on a diagonal.

3.) Wash the potatoes. Do not peel them. For larger potatoes, slice the potato into pieces that are roughly similar in size to the other root vegetables. For very small potatoes, like fingerlings or other varieties, just slice them in half or leave them whole.

4.) When the water is boiling, add salt and blanch each root vegetable for around two minutes until they are slightly tender. Do not overcook them as they will be sautéed and roasted in the oven later. Set the vegetables aside to cool.

5.) Remove the stems from the shiitake mushrooms. Consider saving these for making soups, broths, or stocks later on. They keep very well frozen. Now, slice the caps in half. If your shiitake caps are particularly large, quarter them. If they are small, leave them whole. A typical shiitake cap purchased in stores will be around 1-1 ½” in diameter. Set aside.

6.) Peel both garlic cloves and mince them. Set aside.

7.) Wash the parsley leaves. You’ll want a small handful of parsley. Remove any large stems. Chop the parsley and measure out around 2 tbs. This does not have to be exact.

8.) Remove the large stems from the purslane and wash gently in a bowl of water. The leaves are somewhat delicate, so be careful with them. You’ll want around 3 cups of washed and picked purslane.

9.) Heat 1 tbs olive oil or fat of your choice in 2 medium oven proof saute pans over high heat. Note that if you do not have oven proof saute pans you’ll want to remove the vegetables from the pans after cooking and place in an oven-ready vessel, such as a sheet pan, to finish roasting in the oven. Also, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In the first pan, saute the potatoes and shiitake mushrooms. In the second pan, saute the parsnips and carrots. Both will take roughly 2-3 minutes to brown. After two minutes, add the garlic to the potatoes and mushrooms and cook an additional 30 seconds while you place the carrots and parsnips in the oven. After sauteing for an additional 30 seconds, place the potatoes and mushrooms in the oven as well.

10.) Place the three lemon halves on a sheet pan or doubled up aluminum foil and place on the bottom of the oven to roast along with the vegetables.

11.) After 20 minutes, remove all ingredients from the oven. Place a saute pan with the potatoes and mushrooms over medium high heat. Carefully squeeze the juice of the roasted lemons into a small bowl. Be careful, as the lemons will be hot. The safest way to do this is to hold a lemon half in a pair of tongs and gently squeeze. Once the saute pan with the potatoes and mushrooms is hot, add all of the chopped parsley and half of the lemon juice to the pan. Cook until the lemon juice is mostly dry.

12.) Dress the purslane with 1 tbs of olive oil, roasted lemon juice to taste, and salt and pepper. Scatter on a plate along with the potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, and parsnips. Enjoy!

13.) If you would like to serve this dish with crispy breaded cod, simply season the cod pieces and coat them lightly with flour seasoned as you like it. Being from Louisiana, I prefer Cajun seasoning, but use whatever you like – just make sure the flour tastes good. Yes, taste the flour. It sounds odd, but it’s a trick that I learned years ago to make sure your that your fried foods actually taste good rather than tasting like unseasoned flour.

14.) Crack two eggs into a wide bowl and whisk with two tbs of water. Using one hand (keep the other clean for coating the cod with flour), dip the cod into egg mixture and coat both sides. Now, place the cod into the breadcrumbs and press down. Flip the piece of cod over and press down again. Do not worry about coating the sides.

15.) Once all of the pieces have been coated, heat a large pan over medium high heat. Working in batches, saute the cod in olive oil for around 3 minutes per side. Finish in the oven for around 5 minutes. Cod should be flaky and white when cooked through. Serve the cod atop the purslane and vegetables and top with a little more purslane if you like.

Enjoy!

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