Healing Foraged Salad: Bacula

This is one of my all-time favourite recipes for foraged greens, one I learnt from my wonderful mother-in-law, which is really adaptable for lots of different seasonal herbs.

Fresh Purslane

Bacula is a side salad made in Morocco with seasonal foraged greens. In spring, you’ll find the recipe with mallow, and summer, purslane. I’ve also seen other herbs such as nettle, wild spinach and… other greens I don’t know the names of! It’s a really adaptable dish to whatever you have available in your locality, and is packed with restorative goodness whatever you decide to put in it.

Your primary herb has to be a wild leafy green (if nothing else is available, spinach will do!). Nothing too fragrant or spicy, something subtle and packed with goodness. My all time favourite is purslane, a fantastically nourishing plant that adds a great texture to this dish.

Just be aware that the tougher the herb you use, the longer it will take to steam.

Ingredients

Fresh leafy greens – a great big bunch! (once everything is steamed the herbs will shrink a lot, so the more the merrier here)

A bunch of Parsley

A bunch of Coriander

(ratio of greens to parsley and coriander: 3:1:1)

One small bulb of garlic

Half a fresh lemon

Half a preserved lemon (or alternatively, fresh lemon)

1tsp Paprika

1tsp Cumin

1tsp Turmeric

1/2tsp Salt

Olive Oil

Olives to serve (preserved green/purple)

Method

Thoroughly wash and shake dry the greens, parsley and coriander.

Remove all stalks and poor leaves, chopping the remaining leaves as finely as possible. (exception: if you are using purslane, we do add about half of the healthy stalks)

Load your chopped herbs into a steamer or kisskass (couscoussier).

Chopped purslane ready for steaming (I’m not very concerned with these being VERY finely chopped, since they wilt so much in the steamer)

Remove the skin of the garlic, placing the cloves in the steamer, spread evenly through the herbs.

Take half of your fresh lemon and chop into thin half-moons. Add the lemon into the steamer, again spread evenly through the herbs.

In this experiment I put preserved lemon into the steamer, but I think it’s better with fresh.

Steam the herbs, garlic and lemon for 30 mins-1 hour, depending on the coarseness of the herbs. You will know it’s ready when the herbs are tender and wilted and the garlic is completely soft.

In a large frying pan, heat up a large glug of olive oil with your salt, paprika, cumin and turmeric. Take the garlic cloves out of the steamer and add them to the oil mix, pounding them with a wooden spoon until they are a paste. Remove the lemon from the steamed mix and add the herbs into the oil mix. If the oil doesn’t stretch through the herbs nicely, add a little more.

Pound the garlic into the mix before adding the herbs (some might sneak in)

Take your preserved lemon, squeezing the juice into the mix. To add some extra tartness, you could chop some of the rind thinly and add this too. If you don’t have preserved lemon, use fresh (but not the rind!).

Cook the mixture over a medium heat for 10-15 mins to ensure the flavours are completely married.

Herbs marrying oil and spice

To serve, place in small plates or bowls, with a garnish of thinly sliced preserved lemon and green olives.

Eat with bread and eggs for a restorative light dinner, or serve as a side to any other main dish.

FYI…

This dish is famous for having sustained Moroccans through many a drought and famine, when not much else was available. The purslane variation, known as Rajla, is particularly well known for this.

Does your family have a variation on this dish? Get in touch with me to tell me about it!

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