Spring is on its way and I have been preparing myself for the change. Start of the winter I eat heavier meals with winter vegetables, home-made sausages, baked oven dishes and stews with smoked tofu. Now that spring is on its way I switch to lighter meals. These changes come naturally, with my body giving me signals of what to eat.
When purslane (postelein) is in season my greatest joy is filling a bag with this fresh easy to prepare salad green. When I come home all I have to do is give it a rinse, and it's ready for making a wonderful salad.
Purslane is not just your usual greeny salad vegetable. It is quite special in that it actually contains omega-3 fatty acids! Here is what wikipedia say's about purslane:
Purslane contains more Omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid in particular) than any other leafy vegetable plant. Simopoulos states that Purslane has .01 mg/g of EPA. This is an extraordinary amount of EPA for land based vegetable sources. EPA is an Omega-3 fatty acid normally found mostly in fish, some algae and flax seeds. It also contains vitamins (mainly vitamin A, vitamin C, and some vitamin B and carotenoids), as well as dietary minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron. Also present are two types of betalain alkaloid pigments, the reddish betacyanins (visible in the coloration of the stems) and the yellow betaxanthins (noticeable in the flowers and in the slight yellowish cast of the leaves). Both of these pigment types are potent antioxidants and have been found to have antimutagenic properties in laboratory studies. 100 grams of fresh purslane leaves (about 1 cup) contain 300 to 400 mg of alpha-linolenic acid. One cup of cooked leaves contains 90 mg of calcium, 561 mg of potassium, and more than 2,000 IUs of vitamin A.
Here is a salad which we like very much. It's simple and contains few ingredients. You don't need much to make a good salad! I think it is more important to have a few fresh organic ingredients rather than lots of tasteless vegetables with heavy dressings.
To make the dressing you need a good olive oil. A good olive oil is one which is very pure and made in a way that is processed slowly. The usual olive oils you can buy at supermarkets are not the kind I use. They are not pure or healthy. To produce a good quality oil a lot of fresh olives are needed, and that is why these oils are more expensive. It says on the bottle if the oil is slowly processed- that is nowadays a luxury. I don't mind paying a few more euro's for a bottle of good oil just like there are people who don't mind paying a few euro's more for a good wine! This olive oil has so much taste that I use only a little for the salad. Try a spoonful and you'll see why. It has so much taste and brings a salad to life!
Use the olive oil for salad dressings and drizzling on pasta's, but certainly NOT for cooking! First of all that would be a waste, and secondly olive oil is not to be used heated.
Place a small piece of garlic and some course salt in a pestle and mortar (vijzel). I like to use Himalaya salt for salads because I like the full taste and it also contains more minerals than the usual sea salt.
Then grind the garlic with the salt. You can add pepper at this stage. Add the olive oil a little at a time, blending the garlic and salt with the oil. You can add a few drops of lemon juice if you like. The dressing is ready.
The salad is made with purslane, one or two tomatoes, fresh organic olives, and flat-leaved parsley.
The finishing touch in this salad are the croutons. To make croutons take a white bread (you can store this in the freezer for when you want to make croutons). Cut a slice of bread into cubes and toast them in a pan with heated oil. Add a little salt and turn the heat off when the bread is crunchy. Let them cool and add to the salad right before serving.
Drizzle the olive oil dressing over the salad and mix so that all the ingredients are covered with the oil.