Growing up in Syria, I am used to eating purslane in fattoush salad, pilafs, or stuffed in dough. If you walk through the old vegetable market in Damascus in the summer, you will find baskets of purslane, or Bakleh, as it is called in Syria and Lebanon. My fondest memory, however, is from Sefsafeh, a small village on the Mediterranean coast. My father would move the whole family there the minute school would finish. It is a beautiful home with jasmine bushes, gardenia, and citrus trees.
In the early morning my aunts would stop by with sharp knife and baskets. They would call my mom and go on their morning hunt for the weeds. There they picked curly endives, watercresses and purslane. Of course, this hunt was done the same way as their mother and grandmother did before them. The women socialize, gossip, and laugh while doing the weeding. The ladies were able go into any farm as they, in a way, are doing the farmer a favor with picking all of the weeds (the purslane) between the crops.
Purslane if it is tender is made into salad, tougher leaves are chopped and made into delicious stuffing for dough to make yummy fatayers or cooked with bulgur for very in-expensive yet satisfying bulgur pilaf. I am always amaze of how resourceful our grandmothers were.
Purslane is growing everywhere in my garden between the flowers, and I can not be more happy. I am sure my neighbors think I am crazy as they watch me carefully cutting and saving the shiny weed from my garden.
I did make the bulgur purslane in my restaurant and I am happy to report that it was well received.
Purslane is one of the few green that has hight content of omega-3 amino acid. It is high in vitamin C and vitamin A, yet it is very low in calories. One cup of purslane contain 9 calories only.
Purslane has high content of water so it shrink when it is cooked. To make the pilaf cut the tough stems and chop the purslane coarsely. Wash couple times to make sure that no soil left on the leafs.
Saute chopped onion in olive oil until golden. Add the purslane and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring often.
The purslane will release water, add at this point the coarse bulgur, salt and pepper and stir. Cover and let the pilaf cook for 15 minutes. The bulgur will absorb the liquid that is released from the weeds. If the pilaf comes out little dry, drizzle about 1/2 cup of water. Stir, adjust the seasoning, cover, remove from the heat. Allow the pilaf to rest, covered, for 10 minutes before serving.
I toast sliver almonds and sprinkle over the pilaf before serving.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 . medium onion, chopped
- 12 . cups chopped fresh purslane
- 1 . cup coarse bulgur #3
- salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ . cup toasted slivered almonds, optional
- Heat the olive oil in heavy cooking pan. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until golden.
- Add the chopped purslane, stir and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the bulgur, salt and pepper. Stir, cover and cook over medium-low heat for another 15 minutes.
- Remove from the heat. Allow the pilaf to rest covered for 10 minutes before serving.
- Spoon the pilaf into shallow serving platter and sprinkle with the almonds. Serve.