This easy, fresh, and utterly delicious summer dish is based on a Cypriot recipe my friend Marilena Ioannides cooked on Facebook Live during one of her brilliant weekly presentations.
Even if you don’t speak Greek you can easily follow her cooking method, which in that case is extremely simple.
Marilena uses scallions but I prefer to flavor the tangy purslane and tomatoes with garlic. Also I substituted basil for the mint, as we have plenty in the garden. Note that contrary to Italy, the traditional herb used in Cyprus, as well as in Greece is mint, not basil.
But of course you can choose either, depending on your taste, and whatever you have in your garden…
We ate purslane in the summer, since I was a child, as it is one of the very few greens we have this very dry season in our part of the world. Lately it has become much sought-after for its health benefits. Yet, as I will never cease to repeat, my choice of ingredients and way of cooking is always based on what I learned from my mother and grandmother, as well as from friends who recorded old regional dishes of our area. I choose seasonal produce and combine them simply, to create wonderful, fresh flavors; whatever health benefits they have is an extra bonus!
1/2 -2/3 cup olive oil
3-5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced lengthwise
One large bunch purslane, washed, drained and coarsely chopped –discard only the very thick stems
1 1/2 pounds red, ripe tomatoes, diced –I don’t peel them or discard the seeds
A good bunch basil leaves, or fresh mint, coarsely chopped
Salt to taste
1-2 teaspoons Aleppo or Maras pepper, or freshly ground pepper to taste
1 pound Penne rigate cooked al dente, according to the package instructions, and drained
Fruity olive oil to drizzle the dish
In a deep skillet or sauté pan warm the olive oil, add the garlic and briefly sauté, stirring often on medium-high heat for just a couple of minutes, making sure the garlic does not color. Add the purslane and tomatoes, increase the heat and cook, tossing, for about 6-8 minutes, just to wilt the greens and tomatoes, adding salt and pepper.
Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and toss well to coat with the sauce; remove from the heat, add the basil or mint, toss well, drizzle with fruity olive oil, sprinkle with grated myzithra and serve immediately, with extra grated cheese on the side.