Meet this bunch of tangled up roots that shoot into stalks only to abound into a crazy wig of bright green leaves.
I am referring to purslane, one of the first types of leaf to appear just as the winter is making its getaway.
Purslane is refreshing and slightly lemony in flavor. The only obstacle to eating it is getting it washed and dried without bruising its leaves.
This is really quite simple and only takes a moment.
It’s a question of cutting away the roots, thus allowing the wrapped up stalks to separate.
I soak the purslane in a big bowl of cold water and let it float. After that, I let the greens just drip dry in a sieve.
The next steps to a great salad is to toss the leaves gently by hand with the best olive oil available; add a pinch of sea salt flakes and a big squeeze of fresh lemon juice and the purslane is ready to serve.
Once again, a nice big bowl comes into the picture.
Purslane is one of my three favorite spring greens in this simple trilogy.
When I was younger, the name “turnip greens” did not sound appealing because I associated it with the root vegetable I preferred to avoid.
Later in life I discovered “raapstelen”, the name of the very same leafy tops, but then in the Dutch language.
I bring the greens home gratefully from the organic market and wash as I describe above.
There is something so reassuring about a bowl of greens floating in water just around supper time.
I love these leaves raw, tossed with olive oil and dressed with shavings of Pecorino Romano. Freshly ground pepper suits this salad well.
I love turnip greens even more, sautéed with wild garlic in a mixture of unsalted butter and extra virgin olive oil.
Greens are a sure sign of spring and are piled up in my plate to serve as a pillow to all the other foods I might be serving (like risotto for example).
The slightly anise-like flavor of delicate green chervil makes for a good match in mixed leaf salads.
Washing them is a breeze, just like the other greens in the trilogy.
A little goes a long way.
My favorite way to mix them is into a salad with the carrot-top greens tossed through some crunchy pale yellow endive leaves.
Chervil keeps well in a vase. Just like flowers, it responds well to some fresh water on a daily basis.
This green herb is often sprinkled over white asparagus, known as witte goud or white gold in the Netherlands.
Somehow its flavor seems to ask for a sprinkle of crushed walnuts.
Another simple favorite of mine is freshly chopped chervil stirred into butter with some chives.
The only ingredients needed to complete a late afternoon aperitivo is a chunk of sourdough bread and a bunch of radishes.
Here’s to spring greens and a new season !