Purslane with Rice (Pirinçli Semizotu)
Long before Dr Mehmet Öz, aka Dr. Oz, started to appear on morning shows on Turkish TV channels and regularly on Oprah Show to talk about healthy eating habits with a great emphasis on purslane (surprisingly rich in Omega 3 fatty acids), the weed frequented our tables in dishes and salads all summer long. If Dr. Oz’s advice on healthy food triggered interest in purslane in Turkey, it also caused inflation in purslane prices. A couple of summers ago on questioning a sudden increase of purslane prices, just out of pure curiosity not by any reluctance to pay, I was almost scolded by a vendor at my hometown’s farmer’s market: “Mam, even Dr. Mehmet Öz appreciates purslane, why don’t you?” I always have and especially do now here in the States, where it’s relatively harder to find it. I do so much so that I can stop going to trendy organic farmer’s market for fresh tomatoes and peppers and make a trip all the way to almost-out-of-town chaotic and dusty flea market with the hopes of finding “verdolaga” (that’s what Mexicans call purslane and it seems like they enjoy it as much as Turks do); it’s totally worth it. If I can find purslane seeds I wouldn’t even mind turning the backyard into a purslane field. But for now I’m making a trip to the flea market every weekend.
If you cannot find purslane in your backyard or at the farmer’s market, check out Mexican grocery stores or flea markets for ‘verdolaga.’
2 bunches or ~2 lb purslane (aka verdolaga, pigweed, hugweed, or pusley)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup rice
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
juice of half lemon
3/4 cup water
-Wash purslane well and chop it into 1-1 1/2 inch pieces. You don’t need to discard the stems.
-Heat olive oil in a wide pot. Stir in onion and garlic. Cook until soft.
-Add purslane/verdolaga. Stir a couple of times until wilted.
-Add lemon juice, salt, pepper, and water.
-When it starts boiling, add rice and turn the heat down to low.
-Cover and simmer until rice is cooked.
-Serve warm or cold with garlicy yogurt (for garlicy yogurt use 1 clove of minced garlic per 1 cup of yogurt) on the side.
ps: if you are not very enthusiastic about green leafy vegetables, there’s big chance you won’t like purslance with its crunchy stems and tangy taste.