On lettuce-free salads

P1000309Purslane, lamb’s quarters, some stray oakleaf lettuce, arugula, green onion and celery…with a few borage flowers

‘Tis the time of year our lettuce goes dormant.  (Actually, that is an untrue statement:  some of it is still there but is impossibly bitter as it has shot to seed and is now being harvested for goose food.)  Yet, we salad-lovers persevere!  Until the middle of August, our salads are usually made with weeds and flowers, or are some variation of slaw.

P1000249Purslane, in situ.  Our daughter can’t eat enough of this stuff.

Purslane is a happy weed found everywhere in my garden at this time of the year.  High in omega 3 fatty acids, its texture is reason enough to allow it to grow.  It’s succulently green, and my child can’t eat enough of it.  Likewise, the young shoots of lamb’s quarters are a great spinach substitute.  Watch the texture of its fuzzy leaves, though; for some, this is a turn-off. So, steam or braise it like spinach. And flowers:  borage, calendula, nasturtium, the blossoms of any herb, they’re all fair game for my weed salads.

And slaw.  Do you have a favorite dressing for slaw?  Don’t stop at cabbage, as any brassica can work, as can carrots, sweet peas, radicchio, etc.  Shredded kohlrabi or stems of broccoli, turnips, chopped celery:  all are fair game, all make wonderful slaw-y salads.

UPDATE, Tuesday evening at 5!  Oh my pounding heart:  from the girl:  “Mama, can I help you weed the garden?  I want more of that salad tonight for dinner.”

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22 responses to “On lettuce-free salads

  1. Not being snarky here, El, but is “pursulane” a variant spelling? I see it a lot, but more often “purslane.” We’ve got some coming in now. The girls love it too.

  2. hurrah for purslane! it makes a very fine pesto, too. . .

  3. Now that’s what I call a great salad!

    We have slightly different type of purslane that we planted once that now readily re-seeds itself every year, it has bigger lighter colored leaves and stands a bit more upright. I have heard that if you uproot purslane, it uses the water in the stem to make seeds before it dies. I am going to have to test that theory out this year.

    I bet that your salad made from wild greens packs twice the nutritional punch as a traditional salad, maybe a lot more than that. Yummy.

  4. I fought purslane as a weed so much when my garden was new I have a mental block to try it after learning it was edible!

    So okay, I will make myself try it this week–as it is STILL easily found in my yard. 🙂

  5. Had no idea that stuff was edible! I’m constantly pulling it out of my beds! Good to know.

  6. I spent the morning weeding the rain-forest-formerly-known-my-vegetable-garden, and I saw no purslane. That’s the final straw–my vegetable garden has gotten so horrid that it won’t even give me edible weeds. Darn it.
    On the positive side, my shop garden is spectacular this year. I should have gone with my urge to plant vegetables among the flowers in that garden. Next year.

  7. We’ve been eating a LOT of purslane, mostly in salads — it’s absolutely my favorite thing from the garden so far this year. I’ve been mixing it in salads with amaranth thinnings, kale, collard thinnings, lambs quarters, small amounts of parsley, even a little lettuce.

  8. Favorite slaw dressing – yes!

    2T lime juice, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, sm. bunch of cilantro (as much as you like – I like lots!), 2 tsp. maple syrup, salt. Combine ingredients in a blender, food processor, or other and drizzle in 3 T. olive oil slowly. We use this on simple green cabbage slaws (head, savoy, napa, any will do) and like to add a sm. jalapeno or even hot sauce to balance the dressing. It has been a favorite with our family and all of our friends. Tastes awesome in homemade fish tacos, too. Yum! Might have to make this tonight.

  9. It’s charming that your daughter is charmed by purslane. It’s so cute and succulent. Good girl.
    As for dressings — just get some ginger in there. 🙂

  10. yep, that’s purslane alright. It’s coming on strong now

  11. I guess I knew purslane was edible but have never tried it.So now I will.One thing though not plant I used to love before gardening was escargots.Now I find it harder to eat snails in a restaurant though I know they aren’t the type I loathe in the garden.But then I made them at home one time baked in little puff pastries in garlic butter and I just can’t go cold turkey on them altogether.

  12. Slaw — so good, and I appreciate it most when someone else makes it!!

  13. I’ve never tried purslane either, but a friend mentioned it often grows wild and can be foraged for. I’d like to try it if it pops up in/near my garden – what does it taste like?

  14. Milkweed! You and your pesto! Actually that sounds pretty good but I would think one could overdo the blending, quickly, leaving you with mushy-mush. But that does sound tasty.

    Mike, I got some of that golden purslane seed too and it never grew for me, which I of course found quite hilarious because here I was, consciously trying to grow a weed. You might be right on the nutritional front of weeds. I think it’s all good, and good revenge, to eat the weeds!

    Sara, you might not want to eat gobs of it like our girl does, but if you scatter a few leaves over your regular salad you’d be pleasantly surprised!

    Lindsay, ditto…you might just like it. And anyway it’s one way to get rid of it!

    Pamela, you didn’t stick veggies in your shop garden? It’s not too late: think of those lovely colored lettuces in a fall garden, or purple podded peas!

    Warren, you sound like me: anything is fair game when it’s dinnertime! I think frankly that what you mentioned is a big hurdle for many new gardeners: the idea that things need to be DONE before you harvest them. I say done is when I am ready to eat them, hwahwahwa! And all little greens are good.

    So Andrea did you make the dressing? That really sounds good: and I have plenty of cilantro that could get used, quickly…

    Oh CC you should see the treasure hunt we went on to find more too after we harvested! She has her salad all picked out for tonight’s dinner. I am wondering if I have enough to keep her happy! Thanks for the ginger tip. That’s something I am considering growing in the greenhouse.

    Ed, yeah, it’s July in the gardens: everything is beginning to really roll here too. Though your heat definitely sped things up in your corner of the world: it’s been cold and dry here so it’s all very behind. Oh well.

    John, I always wondered what the snails were that got eaten. I would think the French are industrious sorts who know a good thing when they see it and are simply quick to eat their garden pests. Puff pastry! Garlic, butter and parsley. Those four things can make anything taste good, eh?

    Stef, there IS that, isn’t there? Sometimes I get quite tired of my own cooking. Does your sis do slaw?

    MC, it grows best where soil is disturbed (like gardens), so I don’t know how much you’d find out in the wild. Its taste is fairly subtle; it’s just kind of green…in between a grass and a lettuce, frankly. But it’s the texture that makes it so special.

  15. El – you stole the title of a post I wanted to use! although this year so far has been good for lettuce. Normally, they croak in early July when the real heat arrives. Which it has yet. Which is OK with me.

    Seriously, I started to eat purslane last year, first a little bit in green salad – mostly to spare others’ sensivities… My favorite way though: handfuls in potato salad. I now also serve it to my clients and this “gourmet green” has been well received. ahem!!!!

    I will also try to pickle some as I found a recipe in one of my French cook books. And like others, I also planted the “improved” kind, with much bigger leaves, the golden purslane.

  16. Well El you got me curious about edible snails and I see that garden snails can be consumed but one has to be very careful because of what the snail may have eaten.So they must be purged.Much safer to eat the farmed brands which are usually a slightly different species though a larger species is consumed also.There are or were some guys doing snail ranching up around Santa Barbara but the big surprise is that not only the French but the Greeks,Italians,Spanairds and Porteguese all consume them in different guises.I even came across a snail chowder from Germany.In asia they consume more varieties and I never thought about it but really Conch is just a large water snail and I love conch.

  17. Sylvie, I just got here first is all! Go ahead and use it. In potato salad! Now that sounds quite delicious, that little offset of a crunch…I like sweet peas in mine for that reason (the mange-tout kind). Pickles! I might just have to try again with the golden kind now that I have an able weed-eater that I am feeding. But yeah, you certainly should feature all the kinds of salads that you can make that have no lettuce in them at all. I made a kamut berry salad yesterday (it’s like wheat berries) and it was quite yummy.

    John, thanks for clearing that up! I could see that eating the garden variety could be tricky if you live in the city/suburbs where the things could pick up all manner of pesticides thanks to your neighbors’ love of a green lawn. But that’s quite fascinating. And to think you could become a snail rancher! I suppose there are all kinds of things we could farm, but the average American won’t go near a snail, which is too bad for them, good for the snails. I think the last time I had some I was in France, come to think of it…but yes, under the broiler in butter with garlicky breadcrumbs? Ooolala!

  18. Pingback: Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener » it’s summer, you eat … WHAT???!!!

  19. Last week my father-in-law pointed out some purslane to me, growing in the garden. He mentioned that they eat is often during hot summers in France. I kind of forgot about it until I saw your post, and decided to give it a try in a mixed salad. It tasted great, and it’s of course one less weed that’s a burden to take care off.

  20. Frank, don’t you wish all weeds were edible? In my weeding rounds this weekend, I seriously paused before hitting each purslane plant because my daughter loves it so. Then I realized I was crazy: it’s not like I have a shortage! Glad you liked it!

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