WEEDS

This salad is inspired by one currently on Rich Table’s menu: “LITTLE GEM LETTUCE, STRAWBERRY, BUTTERMILK, LOVAGE.” Little gems are crisp like romaine and sweet like butter lettuce. Lovage leaves have the perfume of anise and the taste of celery. Without having tasted the dish, I was intrigued and wanted to riff on it.  I ended up using the velvety, slightly tart leaves of purslane — classified as a succulent weed — at the suggestion of an enthusiastic vendor at the Pasadena Farmer’s Market. “It contains tons of omega-3 fatty acids.” Since every righteous salad needs a naughty outlet, I sprinkled gribenes (crispy chicken skin) over the top.

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PURSLANE, STRAWBERRIES, BUTTERMILK, CRISPY CHICKEN SKIN 

3-4 bundles of purslane (or mache, watercress, baby spinach)
a pint or so of local organic strawberries (small)
skin from 2-3 chicken thighs
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
1 generous teaspoon poppy seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt

Gently rinse and dry the purslane. Clean the strawberries and cut the leafy part off. Stir the buttermilk, garlic, poppy seeds, and vinegar together in a small bowl. Season the buttermilk conservatively with salt and generously with  black pepper. Set all of this in the refrigerator to chill. Meanwhile heat a nonstick skillet on medium heat and fry the skin until golden brown and very crisp on both sides, about 10-15 minutes, draining the fat as necessary. Transfer the crisped skin to a paper towel. When it is cool, break it into small pieces. To serve, drizzle some of the buttermilk dressing over the purslane. Plate the purslane, then add strawberries and bits of crispy chicken skin on top.

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