GROW FOOD slow food Have your garden and eat it too. A practical guide to organic gardening in the sub-tropics with step-by-step instructions and delicious seasonal recipes. Come with me too on some of my travels in Australia, Europe, Asia and beyond.

Purslane, walnut, garlic and yoghurt salad.

Semizotu in Turkish – where this dish comes from.

Sometimes you just get lucky. There we were in Marmaris, on the west coast of Turkey in 2008, and the hotel we had picked out from a reputable guide, turned out to be a dump. It was a fair way out of town with no other accommodation around.

What to do? It was getting late in the afternoon? We took one look at each other and decided to bolt back to the main harbour (I remember dragging our bags onto a local pink bus at this point?) to increase our chances of somewhere to lay our weary heads for the night – we had been travelling all day.

Then we got lucky. We saw a sign advertising 5 day cruises down the Anatolian coast on a traditional Turkish wooden yacht – a gulet – with one double cabin still available that was leaving in the morning. The price looked very reasonable too so we enquired in the nearby tourist kiosk. Ten minutes later found us stowing our bags in an en suite comfy cabin and having a drink in the galley with the crew who were in preparation to set sail in the morning. The other eight guests were coming aboard in the morning, but the Turkish captain (Jimmy!) said we could sleep there that night (at no extra cost) and take the pick of the cabins.

There were three male crew and two of them were preparing this purslane salad for lunchtime the next day – stripping the small leaves from their succulent stems and storing them in the fridge. I had no idea what this plant was and with no Turkish and them, with limited English, identification would have to wait for later – as with many of the bunches of leaves and vegetables that were stacked up on the galley benchtops. I could see that we were in for some unusual culinary treats though. We ate this salad the next day with chicken that had been cooked on the stern bbq (it had been marinated in yoghurt and spices) with crunchy herb potatoes. Yum! The scenery was pretty spectacular too.

Purslane Turkish Meze

  • 1 cup purslane leaves
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts – crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 2 cups thick yoghurt
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • salt and pepper

TO PREPARE: Just mix it all together and serve with flatbread

NOTE: if you find that this mixture becomes too thick (the walnuts absorb a lot of moisture) then add a little water and stir it through.

WHAT DOES PURSLANE TASTE LIKE? Like fresh and crunchy cucumber with a slightly lemony tang. This dish is a lot like the Greek tzatziki but, in my view, far superior in flavour with a more complex texture.

For more about other wild foods, that may be lurking in your garden, go to this previous post

For more about the super food that is PURSLANE – go to this post

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