Now here is a salad with a medieval twist – purslane salad! If you read about medieval salad recipes, you will realise that it was nothing like the salad we enjoy today. The lettuce and tomatoes that we traditionally associate with a salad were not common in medieval Europe. Instead, our medieval forebears used herbs and flowers – and sometimes what we today call weeds – to make a salad.
Is Purslane Special?
Purslane has a lot to commend it. It is a green, leafy plant and its leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Purslane was one of the most popular medieval herbs which people not only ate, but valued for its health benefits. They are not likely to have known exactly why it was good for them but it was no accident that purslane leaves were used in many medieval recipes. Medieval gardens always had a herb section and purslane was always present there. In the modern medieval gardens that I have been fortunate enough to visit, I have always found purslane growing.
A Weed You Can Eat
Because purslane looks more like a weed than a plant, many people actually think of it as a weed. In fact, if they find it growing in their garden, they usually pull it out and throw it away! If they knew of its health benefits they might act differently.
Here is a great article called ‘weed eating‘ courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art which explains in more detail about the edible weeds that were grown and harvested in a medieval kitchen garden.
Purslane – Healthy Medieval Salad Ingredient
Purslane is low in calories and its leaves contain a high level of omega-3 fatty acids. Purslane leaves are also rich in vitamins and minerals. Another advantage of purslane is that the leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. The taste of purslane is also worth mentioning. A bunch of fresh leaves can add a nice tart taste to any salad.
Recipe For Egg, Tomato & Mozarella Salad With Purslane
A simple and easy salad recipe made extra special with purslane for extra flavour, texture and nutritional value.
Ingredients (serves 2)
Fresh tomatoes x 4 – washed and chopped
Mozarella cheese – 6 slices
Cucumber x 1/2 – washed, peeled and chopped into cubes
Hard boiled eggs x 2 – shelled and thinly sliced
Lettuce – from small head of lettuce – washed and dried
Cabbage – 1 cup of shredded cabbage leaves – washed and dried
Purslane – 1 cup of leaves (stems removed) – washed and dried
Instructions – Place all the ingredients together in a serving bowl. Toss the salad gently to mix together. Drizzle your chosen salad dressing over the mixed salad.
1. The dressing that I think really suits this salad is olive oil with balsamic vinegar. However, you can choose whatever you prefer. Most dressings suit egg, mozarella and tomatoes.
2. A great salad to accompany grilled fish or chicken.
3. Don’t like lettuce? Replace it with spinach!