Saturday, 19 November 2011

Salad Days in Autumn

Carpaccio di Manzo con Zucca "Hokkaido", Feta, Mirtilli + Portulaca
Beef Carpaccio with Hokkaido Pumpkin, Feta, Blueberries + Purslane

I have to admit that given the choice, I will almost always choose a soup over a salad, especially in the colder seasons. But today, I stumbled upon a stall selling purslane lettuce at the market hall. I had heard of it before, but never actually made it myself. I pinched off a leaf and tried it- it was very mildly peppery, but had a nice "bite" to it and was juicy- in fact, the leaves remind you a little of a succulent- except for the very long stalks! In any case- I kicked the idea of a soup out of the window for this evening- I had to try out a salad made of purslane- it was as simple as that!

The next thing that caught my eye was a small Hokkaido pumpkin- my favorite variety- although this was unusual in that it was green on the outside, rather than red/orange. I love hokkaido's- not only because of their great flavor- but also because you can eat the skin and don't need to peel them! 

Next thing I knew, I was walking past the meat counter and seeing all that juicy, raw meat made me think of a great carpaccio... so of course that was the next thing to go into my shopping basket!

And obviously, you will have noticed that the blueberries somehow made it home from the market with me too... and mint... and pine nuts! It just all came together- a sudden flash of inspiration... and I am so glad that it did- as the result was pretty delicious!

I started off with the pumpkin... obviously, as it is the only thing that needed to be cooked! I fried it in very little clarified butter at quite a high heat- it doesn't need much cooking and is soon lovely and golden brown. I first spread a little mustard on my plate and drizzled it with honey. Then came the purslane, or "portolaca" as it is also known,which has rather long stems- but they are very tender and too delicious to be cut away or snapped off. So I arranged it so that the leaves were on the outside of the plate and the stems were pointing inwards. Which of course made it easier for me to lay out the beef carpaccio on top.

Next came a fine dice of Feta cheese and a few leaves of mint, a little freshly milled pepper and a hint of salt. Then came the pumpkin slices and the blueberries. The dressing was the juice of half a lemon, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of my "Salt of the Earth"- but sure- regular salt will do!

The combination of the beef, which gets dragged through the honey and mustard underneath it as you pick it up, combined with the salty feta and the sweet berries, the mild and nutty pumpkin and the fresh and delicious purslane is... well- just pretty damned good! And I sure hope you enjoy it too!


  1. Intriguing! I've actually never had purslane or a Hokkaido pumpkin. I really like the idea of a squash that you don't have to peel!

  2. Hi Frank! Strangely, the Hokkaido has become the most popular pumpkin in German- I would say that probably 90% of pumpkins eaten here are Hokkaido's. And yes- it IS great that it doesn't need peeling! Makes the best soups too! I used some in pancakes this morning... yum! Also, purslane, though not so widely eaten, is also readily available. One of those "foodie" foods I guess- but also, inexpensive and totally yummy! Wish you could get some to try yourself!