I was at the Tuesday tianguis for my weekly ritual of devouring quesadillas. The market is always abundant in fresh produce and I take advantage discovering new food to cook.
I stocked up on my usual haul of onions, garlic, tomatoes and chilies. But as I was leaving, a woman was waving a large handful of greens at me and shouting, “Joven, diez pesos!” Though, the leafy green looked similar to watercress, I wasn’t sure what it was. As usual, curiosity got the best of me and I stopped to investigate this produce. It turns out it was verdolagas which is best known in English as purslane. I had heard of it growing up in California, but never heard of eating it. Come to find out, this annual succulent is actually one of the most nutritious greens on the planet packed with high levels of omega-3’s and vitamins.
Of course, I was up for this challenge, but I had no idea what to do with the waxy leafed plant. The woman rattled off several recipe suggestions to me, but the one that resonated with me with the idea of making it into a sauce to accompany chicken. I had already picked up some chicken at the market, so it seemed like the perfect plan. And it was.
I prepared a simple recipe that night using chicken covered with a sauce made of verdolagas and sprinkled with Mexican cheese. It was served with crispy fried potatoes and spring onions. Make it with the recipe below.
Chicken with Salsa Verdolagas (Purslane Sauce)
- 2 Chicken Breasts pounded flat
- 1 Bunch of Verdolagas (Purslane) chopped, 1-2 inch pieces
- 1 White Onion sliced
- 4-5 Cloves Garlic crushed whole
- 1 Small Serrano or Jalapeño optional, if you like it spicy
- 1 1/2 Cups Chicken Stock
- Juice of 1 Small Lime
- Salt to Taste
- 2-3 tbsp Oil for Cooking
- Prepare your ingredients. Slice onion, crush garlic cloves whole with side of chef's knife, chop verdolagas into 1-2 inch pieces.
- Sauté onions and garlic with a little oil on low-medium heat until they begin to caramelize. Remove and set aside once caramelized.
- Add verdolagas to the hot pot. You may need a splash of oil. Not much though. Let the verdolagas wilt down until the start to become tender. Remove from heat so you don't over cook them; otherwise, they will lose their color.
- Add all ingredients to blender and blend a couple minutes until smooth. If you are added a chili for some heat, chop it and add it into blender with rest of ingredients. Return salsa to a small sauce pan and cover or put on low heat to keep warm.
- Prepare your chicken breasts to be pounded flat. Holding your knife parallel to the cutting board, slice through the middle of the breast almost all the way through, keeping one side attached. Open breast, place between two pieces of plastic and pound flat with mallet or bottom of glass until about 1/2inch thick. When in Mexico you can buy chicken already pounded flat and thin -"aplanado" or "para milanesa". You can place between two pieces of plastic and pound flat with mallet or bottom of glass.
- Warm a skillet to medium heat. After it is evenly heated, add 1 tbsp of cooking oil to the skillet and let it get hot. Place your chicken breast into the skillet gently laying it away from you as not to splash yourself with hot oil. Let each side cook until light golden brown. Since these are pounded thin, they cook quickly; just about 3-4 min on each side.
- Served chicken with sauce poured over top. Sprinkle queso fresco over the top.