Purslane (Portulaca oleracea, gr. glistrida, antrakla, adrahni) is a plant with fleshly leaves, growing wild all over Greece and also cultivated for use in horiatiki salad or eaten by its own with olive oil and vinegar.
Archaeobotanical researches have retrieved purslane seeds from a protogeometric layer in Kastanas and the Samian Heraion (7th century BC). Ancient doctors and herbalists found purslane helpful in treating inflammation in the urinary system (Hippokrates), mouth (Galen), digestive tract (Dioskourides) etc. Dioskourides thought that it could reduce the sexual desire, an opinion that was widely accepted until 17th century. The 17th century monk Agapius Landus from Crete suggested a fresh green salad made with purslane, basil, rocket, cress, and garlic to those suffering «the common cold». Modern researchers found that purslane is one of the very few plants that contain alpha linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid normally found in fish and some algae. It is an explosion of vitamin C, also contains some vitamin B and carotenoids, as well as minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron. Two types of its betalain alkaloid pigments, the reddish betacyanins and the yellow betaxanthins have been found to have antimutagenic properties in laboratory studies.
Although purslane is widely eaten raw or pickled in vinegar by Greeks, is rarely consumed cooked. Two Cretan recipes of lamb or chicken cooked with purslane could have been introduced by the Greek refugees from Asia Minor, since in Turkish cuisine purslane is used just like spinach. A salad with yogurt and purslane also reminds of the Turkish Yogurtlu Semizotu Salatas. However, in that case it could be a coincidence, one of those that happen to cuisines based on similar sources.
SALAD WITH PURSLANE & YOGURT
(ΣΑΛΑΤΑ ΜΕ ΓΛΙΣΤΡΙΔΑ ΚΑΙ ΓΙΑΟΥΡΤΙ)
1 cup purslane leaves, washed, dried and chopped
well-strained yogurt, enough to cover purslane leaves
½ cup green olives preserved in lemon without pits, cut into rings.
1 tb virgin olive oil, or more if you like
vinegar, a couple of drops
salt, black pepper
(optional 2 cloves garlic, crushed)
Mix yogurt, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and olives in a bowl. Add purslane and mix again. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until it is time to eat. Serve it with bread or with any roast or grilled food.