Almost Turkish Recipes

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.

15 comments:

  1. Hah! Seriously! You'd think he'd invented healthy eating! Well, I started eating purslane about four years and just love its citrusy flavor. I use it mostly in salads, so I'm really happy to have a new way to enjoy it.

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  2. I love purslane and even did a mini-project on it during undergrad. You can find seeds for it from several seed companies. I got some from Johnny Seeds this year and I know the Kitazawa Seed Co. has at least two varieties. I'm usually able to find it volunteering in my own garden and once harvested armfuls of it for a demonstration from a community garden where it was 'volunteering' on the compost pile. Just remember it's a warm-season plant so it doesn't start thriving until around this time of year.

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  3. I tasted purslane for the first time this year and I like it a lot. I will make this recipe: there is a farmer that sells purslane at our local market, so I have a supply.

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  4. This "weed" keeps cropping up all over my garden beds and I've been yanking it out, but no more! I had no idea it was edible and related to spinach (which amusingly is one of the beds it has taken over). I'm going to make a salad with it tonight! Thanks for the post on it.

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  5. Susan-I am with you; I love that citrusy flavor, too. There are a number of ways to cook purslane in Turkish cuisine. I'll post more purslane recipes in the future.

    Lillian-Thanks! I already placed the order.

    Simona-I hope you like purslane this way.

    Shannon-I wish I had a garden bed taken over by purslane.

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  6. Thanks for the introduction to this ingredient - purslane

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  7. Burcu,
    Thanks for the Spanish name. I was able to find in Mexican grocery store :) You can find the purslane seeds here:
    http://www.wildgardenseed.com/index.php?cPath=49
    I don't have any garden so I haven't tried to grow it.

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  8. Anonymous4:42 PM

    burcu, you are truly fabulous! every time I come to your site I am impressed and inspired. the recipes here are much more interesting and varied than those in my 'vegetarian turkish' cookbook.
    and tonight, when I was looking for somehting to do with the purslane in the yard - it's perfect!
    now, what's the turkish name for purslane?
    thank you!

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  9. anonymous- Thank you! I'm happy to hear that I do better than your cookbook. Semizotu is the Turkish term for purslane, however, in the East it's known as 'pirpirim,' too.

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  10. Anonymous4:24 PM

    I just made that and ate it, it was delicious! I crumbled some feta cheese on it, and some fresh ground pepper. Yum!

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  11. I saw this in bunches all over the place last week in the Findizade market in Instanbul, and couldb't find anyone who knew the English name. I've seen it at the Turkish grocery just down the road from home, so I'm definitely going to try it, as soon as I see it again. THANKS!!

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  12. Purslane grows all over my raised bed, under my tomatoes, under my chiles. I have to pull out a lot of it and get rid of it as it is very invasive. I do eat some of it. Some I just throw out. There is just too much of it sometimes.

    Thanks for the recipe as you can't find too many recipes using purslane. The funny thing is many years ago, I actually grew it from seed as I didn't recognize it at all and didn't know it grew as a weed. At the time I did not have it as a weed and had never seen it before. Now I just have too much of it and never know what to do with it all. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  13. I posted a great recipe for it that I learned first during a year's stay in the Sudan. It is also well known in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries.
    You can find it here:
    http://www.halaqahmakkah.com/dhikr/?p=650

    I used its Arabic name as well as a reference to the English (purslane) and Mexican (verdolaga). I will have to try it more in salads.

    Sadiqa, Omm Rafiq

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  14. hi, I have been eating the "volunteer" purslane for years but bought seeds this year both at Johnnies and in Europe. The horticultural variety is more delicious, has bigger leaves and a much more tender stem.

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  15. No need to buy seeds, just shake the very small black seeds from the purchased bunch onto white paper or over the garden bed. We grew up eating verdolagas and other weeds. You're right, funny you can BUY it now!

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