Purslane, Pea, & Beet Salad w/ Coconut Gremolata


Weed it or eat it? That is the question when it comes to purslane. We’ve be weeding it exclusively for the last couple of weeks, since discovering how very invasive and fast growing it is. My friend, Deb Mulkey told me that every leaf has thousands of seeds that get tilled into the soil, or spread throughout compost, if you compost it. But then Jenny, our nutrition expert intern, shows up today excited about all the purslane we discover in a lettuce bed, hiding under one of our row covers. Jenny says (which I confirmed later via the all-knowing internet) that it is very nutritious. It is about as high in Omega-3s as a vegetable can get, and has a natural fattiness (a good fattiness) that makes it delicious and versatile. Here’s a picture of it. It’s pretty, right? Just like ivy. Also invasive.

purslane-2010But here’s a direct quote from the ever quotable internet, this from a site called “eat the weeds”:

Regardless of what one calls it, purslane contains more omega 3 fatty acids than any other plant source in the solar system, and an extraordinary amount for a plant, some 8.5 mg for every gram of weight.  It has vitamin A, B, C and E — six times more E than spinach — beta carotene — seven times more of that than carrots — magnesium, calcium, potassium, folate, lithium — keep you sane — iron and is 2.5% protein.

So on that note, I decided to offer some in the Market today, and to mix some up for us for dinner tonight. The salad was delicious. Really, really, delicious. Although Mark, still thinking of purslane as a weed we’re having a hard time eradicating, struggled to enjoy as much as he otherwise would have. He doesn’t know why anyone would every eat weeds. Poor Mark.

If you look hard enough you will probably have access to purslane, but if you don’t have access to pea leaves and tendrils, substitute baby spinach. Part of what makes this salad work is the coconut gremolata, which I stumbled across in a Bon Appetit magazine (you can also find them at bonappetit.com).

Purslane, Pea, & Beet Salad. Serves 4.


2-3 beets (boiled or roasted)
1 c. peas
2 c. pea leaves and tendrils (or baby spinach if you aren’t fortunate enough to have pea leaves growing in your backyard)
2 c. purslane leaves
1 medium shallot or 1 small onion or several green onions
1 Tbsp. lime zest and 2 Tbsp. lime juice
1/4 c. shredded or flaked unsweetened coconut
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. fish sauce
1/4 c. chives
3 Tbsp. mint
Sea salt and coarsely ground pepper

Prep for a side salad for 4:

Boil beets in salted water until fork tender. Set aside to cool. Peel and slice. (Always boil more than you need and then use them in assorted ways throughout the week).

Combine 1 c. peas (freshly shelled if available), pea  tendrils, and purslane leaves. Set aside.

Coconut Gremolata:

Heat 3-4 Tbsp. vegetable oil in small pan on medium-high. Add 1 medium shallot (or equivalent) that has been thinly sliced and separated into rings. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and crispy (about 5 minutes). Remove to a paper towel and season with sea salt.

Pour oil into a small bowl to cool.

Meanwhile, toast coconut in the pan you’ve just emptied, stirring occasionally until golden brown (about 3 minutes). Remove to a small bowl. Add the onion rings, chopped chives, mint, and lime zest. Toss together. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Take cooled oil and add 2 Tbsp. lime juice, 2 tsp. fish sauce and pour over peas, tendrils, and purslane. Salt and pepper to taste.

Use this mixture as a base divide into four servings (for most attractive presentation). Add slices of beets and then top it off with the coconut gremolata.


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