Purslane Pita Pockets with Tahini Dressing
Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) has been my garden staple this year. Last year, my little garden was filled with a lush carpet of lambsquarter. Because I ate it (pinched it back) every few days, it grew thicker every week, and didn't go to seed until well into September. I'd hoped for more lambsquarter this year, but the rabbits nibbled back all the early starts. That left the door open for purslane to overtake my garden. Who am I to complain? I invite any edible plant that can thrive there without water to set up shop.
If you aren't familiar with the thick, slightly slimy leaves of this common garden "weed," refer back to this post to learn all about how to identify it. I've heard some people complain that as much as they love purslane, they find it difficult to clean. Here's what I do. If at all possible, I wait until after a rain storm, or give the area a brief sprinkling with a watering can before I harvest. This makes for a nice pre-wash. I then go in and use a pair of scissors to harvest only the above-ground portion of the plant. In my own garden, I leave the roots in place and let the plant regrow. But I'm often in the situation where I'm weeding purslane out of another person's garden to eat. In that case, I still snip off the leaves and stems of the plant. Only after I've collected my food do I then go through and pull up the roots to go into compost.
If you harvest in this way, purslane is easy to wash. I like to soak it in a generous amount of cold water and a big splash of vinegar in the bowl of my salad spinner for at least ten minutes, then spin it dry. From there, it can be enjoyed either for its fresh crunch or to add character to cooked dishes. You can look to a previous Wild Things Round Up for recipe ideas.
This summer, I started out trying to make a loved one's Iranian flatbread on the grill, and ended up making pocket bread. That's how I came to eat a whole lot of purslane pocket sandwiches. And I will continue to stuff them down for as long as the season will allow, because they are really good.
Purslane Pita Sandwiches with Tahini Dressing
2 parts tahini (I've been making homemade, like this recipe, but I've nothing against purchased)
2 parts lemon juice
1 part olive oil
garlic to taste
salt and pepper
tomatoes, sliced and salted
cheese (I like fresh Mozzarella and herbed goat cheese here, but eat what you like)
lot of chopped purslane (how much is lots? this sandwich should be thick with its star, purslane)
1. Shake together the tahini dressing in a mason jar. Don't worry about measuring it. Just eyeball it, and season it to taste. If it seems too thick to dress a salad, you can thin it down with a touch of water.
2. I hate to make an extra dish to clean as much as you do, but this recipe really turns out better if you place all the purslane into a bowl, drizzle on the dressing, and toss it so that it is evenly coated before stuffing your sandwich. You want quite a bit of dressing on the purslane, because it will season and make the whole sandwich juicy. If you can't bear the extra washing (and trust me, I get it), just drizzle the dressing into your filled pocket sandwich.
3. Line your pita pocket one one side with your choice of cheese, and tomatoes on the other. Cram the space in between with the dressed purslane, then stuff your face. Summer doesn't get any better than this.