Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Purslane Salad with Lemon and Parsley Vinaigrette

On Saturday, we wandered to the downtown Phoenix farmer's market where Brad sampled nearly everything, homemade granola, scones, cookies, even dog treats if I would have let him. We walked past several produce stands, many run by large, established farms. But we were hoping to support an immigrant or refugee farming cooperative. That's when we met Jawn from Golo Family Organic Farms.

Her beauty spilled out like grace all over us as she explained how she ended up in Phoenix as a farmer. 
"I lived in a refugee camp in West Africa for 15 years, until America came and rescued me," she said. "God rescued me."

In the camp, she taught others to support themselves through batik and screen printing using classic African designs. She farmed. And, she waited. Eventually, the United States stepped in. "Nothing happens without America," Jawn says. "Other countries would wait until the US walked into a refugee camp and said, 'Yes, we'll take you, and you, and you'."

She sees farming as her way of giving back. 

I looked through her produce. Although it was still early morning as far as I was concerned, most of her supply had already been purchased.

"What's this?" I asked, holding up what looked like a bunch of weeds. 

Purslane, or Mexican spinach, she informed me. I tasted it. It had a soft, lemony tang, with the texture you would imagine of biting into a succulent. 

I came home and Googled purslane recipes. Most were for salads, though some suggested stir frying it into eggs. However, cooking had the possibility of bringing out a dreaded okra-like slime, so I opted for a raw preparation. If you can get your hands on this ubiquitous weed, I highly recommend it. It's much more interesting than lettuce, with a satisfying crunch and a delicious flavor.  

serves four

1 bunch purslane, rinsed and roughly chopped (rough stems removed)
1 avocado, diced
1 plum tomato, diced

1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon parsley, minced
generous pinch sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Toss the vegetables together in a large salad bowl. Whisk together the vinaigrette and season to taste with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Pour over the salad. You can wait to serve this for up to half an hour if you wish; it doesn't wilt as quickly as does lettuce or spinach.


  1. ohhh, interesting! isn't it fun to try new foods! :)

  2. Yes! It's scarier than I expected. I guess we all reach this comfort level and plateau. Whether that happens just past pasta with pesto or beyond black truffle and Himalayan sea salt-crusted Skate, doesn't really matter. But, as soon as you take that next step, a whole world of possibilities opens up. For me, in the last few years my favorite discoveries have been creme fraiche and a microplane grater, which I realize is not a food, but it was one of those things that I had been meaning to get but just never had. Then I did. And I couldn't figure out how I had survived so long without it. How many ingredients will I discover this year and wonder the same thing about? It makes me want to spend a week only trying things I've never tried before.

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