Seasonal Chef: Purslane

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There are a few great things about visiting different Farmers Markets. First, you always find the nicest Market Managers willing to help you find just want you need – and second, you can find different vendors at different markets. I had my mind on doing something with lettuce greens this week and remembered a vendor at the Greenwich, CT Farmers Market: Two Guys from Woodbridge. Since I live in Port Chester that market is a breeze to get to. The Two Guys do a wide a variety of hydroponic greens on their farm and bring them contained in their root balls. That allows the greens to continue to thrive until you get them home. (Brilliant!) As I perused the table I noticed a small bunch of greens called purslane and decided to give them a try.

Let’s talk about Purslane. Yesterday I posted a picture of it on my Facebook page and my friend Ersilia, who owns Olive Oils of the World commented that she thought that was the stuff growing around her driveway. Well, truth be told, purslane is considered a wild weed in the U.S. So you’re probably saying to yourself: “Okay Maria, so why would I want to eat a weed?” Here is the amazing thing about this edible leafy plant: it’s completely loaded with vitamins and nutrients. It has more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other green leafy plant. It’s a rich source of vitamins A, B-complex, C, Iron … the list goes on and on. So my response: “Why not?” (Although I would add that it’s probably makes more sense to get this from a farmer rather than foraging around your driveway!)

Purlsane has a complex flavor, it’s slightly sour, salty and herbaceous. In scouring through my many recipes I wondered just how it might play in a soup? I came across a Food and Wine recipe that looked pretty interesting – so I thought I would give it a try. I did a little adjusting based on some things in my pantry, with great success. The result was a lovely cold zucchini soup that I would like to share with you today.

More after the jump …

The original recipe suggests that arugula would be a good substitute if purlsane is not available. Since I had some in the ‘fridge I thought I would just add it to the soup.

After a nice saute of the zucchini I decided to add vegetable stock to the soup rather than just sticking with water. I think the stock really added another level of flavor.

Then everything goes in to the blender to be pureed.

After which you add some ice to thin it out. This took me about 20 minutes to put together, but the key is in the chilling. You could make this on a Sunday afternoon and enjoy it during the week. Just for good measure I added a dollop of plain yogurt which added a nice “creaminess” to the overall flavor.

I’ll have a few more cold soups coming for you as the summer kicks in to full swing. In the meantime, next week I’ll be talking trout – smoked trout that is, from Cabbage Hill Farm in Mt. Kisco.

Until then, Buon Appetito!

Cold Zucchini Soup with Purslane and Arugula
Serves 6

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
½ cup onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed
2-3 small zucchini, about 1 pound, sliced thin
2½-3 cups vegetable stock
3 thyme branches stripped, about ½ teaspoon
1 small bay leaf
1 tablespoon to chopped basil, more for garnish
¾ cup each of purslane leaves and baby arugula
1 cup of ice
Zest and juice of ½ a lemon
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Plain Greek yogurt, optional

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Cook over medium heat until translucent and soft. Add the sliced zucchini with another ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in the thyme, bay leaf, 2½ cups of stock and bring to a boil for about 5 minutes. Try to submerge the zucchini under the stock. (You might need to add a little more if necessary.) Simmer for about 5 minutes then remove from heat to cool. Discard the bay leaf and stir in the chopped basil, purslane and arugula. Mixing the greens into the pot.

Working in batches, carefully puree the soup in a blender until very smooth. Transfer the zucchini puree to a large bowl and stir in the ice, zest and lemon juice. Taste the soup for seasoning. It’s important to check the flavor before it cools completely. (Flavors incorporate better when something is warm rather than cold.) Refrigerate the soup for at least 3 hours, until thoroughly chilled.

Just before serving add a dollop of yogurt, a little basil for garnish and a drizzle of olive oil.

Maria Reina is a personal chef, caterer and recreational cooking class teacher in Port Chester, NY. In her free time she loves hanging out at local Farmers Markets in Westchester County doing cooking demos with seasonal ingredients. In addition to her blog you can follow her  on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

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About Author

Seasonal Chef blogger Maria Reina comes to the world of food as a third career, spending a great portion of her adult life in the field of Human Resources. With her private company Bella Cucina Maria she is a personal chef, caterer and recreational cooking class teacher in Westchester. She's an avid food television watcher and cookbook collector, always looking for a new take on a traditional dish. In her free time she loves hanging out at local farmers, chatting it up with the farmers and doing cooking demos with their seasonal ingredients. In addition to her blog, which is loaded with easy recipes, you can follow her on Facebook (Bella Cucina Maria), Twitter (Bellacucinam) and Pinterest (Bellacucinam).

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