While traveling through the West Bank a couple of years ago, I was delighted to encounter several tangy salads that included purslane as their star ingredient. A weed rarely given its due in American kitchens, purslane (baqleh in Arabic) is popular in the Levant, sometimes popping up in versions of fattoush, the irresistible salad built upon shards of toasty pita chips. So when I saw purslane at my local farmers market last spring, I knew exactly what to do. I add a couple of untraditional ingredients—radish greens for sharpness and green grapes for sweetness—as well as indispensable seasonings such as bright, acidic sumac. If you cannot find purslane easily, use watercress instead—the flavors will be different but just as delicious.
5 cups pita chips*
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
1 bunch radishes with greens, radishes sliced thinly, greens roughly chopped
1 small bunch purslane, thicker stems discarded and the rest
¼ cup fresh mint, packed
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, packed
¾ cup seedless green grapes, halved
1 tablespoon sumac
Juice of 1 lemon
½ cup olive oil
Salt to taste
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Serve immediately so that the pita chips remain crunchy.
*Store-bought pita chips are OK so long as they are a neutrally flavored store brand or from a Middle Eastern bakery—commercial brands meant for snacking are too thick and won’t work.
**Watercress is a good substitute if you can’t find purslane
LUKE PYENSON is a food and travel writer, recipe developer, food stylist and photographer based in New York City. You can see examples of his work at www.lukepyenson.com.